COLUMBUS, Ohio – On a frigid and windy afternoon on the shores of Lake Michigan, the fifth-ranked Ohio State field hockey team advanced to the final of the 2010 Big Ten Tournament Friday after defeating No. 10 Michigan State, 2-0, at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Ill. With the win, the Top-seeded Buckeyes (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten) will play No. 2-seed Michigan at 2 p.m. CT Sunday in the championship game televised live by The Big Ten Network.
The championship appearance will be the third time Ohio State has advanced to the tournament final in program history after playing in the title game in 2001 and 2008. The Buckeyes have won the tournament once in 2001.
Along with its advancement to the final, the victory over the Spartans gives the Buckeyes 16 wins in 2010, which is a program-high under 15th-year head coach Anne Wilkinson. The 2010 Big Ten regular-season co-champions have now won 10-consecutive games this year.
Ohio State scored one goal in the first half and added another goal late in the final 30 minutes of competition, while holding off the Spartans for its seventh shutout of the year.
“We knew the second half was going to be really tough,” Wilkinson said. “I think we initially got our legs moving and we were able to move the ball. We knew they were going to come after us in the second half because they had nothing to lose and that’s what makes it really hard. We had to take care of the ball extremely well and really step up and be smart with it. We will have to prepare to bring a different game Sunday with a different look, but still be able to get the result we are looking for and that’s a Big Ten tournament title.”
The Buckeyes were led by junior co-captain Aisling Coyle and freshman Paula Pastor-Pitarque, who each tallied goals. Sophomore forward Berta Queralt had two assists, while senior midfielder Aisling McKeon also recorded an assist.
The first 25 minutes of play went scoreless until Ohio State got on the board first following a penalty corner when Coyle, the 2010 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, blasted a shot inside the circle at 25:56 with assists coming from Queralt and McKeon. With the goal, Coyle has now posted six gamewinners this year and also becomes the fourth Buckeye in program history to have 50 or more points in a season. The Second Team All-Big Ten selection, McKeon now has 20 assists this year.
The Buckeyes closed the door on the Spartans late in the second half going ahead 2-0 when Pastor-Pitarque fired a shot from the right side of the circle following a pass from Queralt at 65:56 just seconds after a penalty corner. Queralt, a 2010 First Team All-Big Ten honoree, adds to her Ohio State season assists record to 25, while Pastor-Pitarque, the 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, hits the 20-point mark this season and now has 21 on seven goals and seven assists.
Buckeye goalkeeper Ally Tunitis improves to 16-3 this year, breaking the single-season program wins record for an Ohio State goalkeeper after Lindsay Quintiliani, Lindsay Williams and Allison Blanton each had 15 victories in 2006, 2005 and 2001, respectively. Tunitis also ties the single-season record for shutouts with seven this year after Kim Willis and Susan Dunmire each had seven in 1985 and 1984, respectively.
In the team’s win streak, Ohio State has outscored its opponents, 41-4, and outshot its opponents, 173-53. The Buckeye defense has also been a major factor, limiting opponents to just 5.3 shots per game.