COLUMBUS, Ohio – The reigning Big Ten champion Ohio State women’s soccer team opened its 2018 season with team fitness testing and the first team training session Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and the upper practice fields across the street from Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Buckeyes, led by 22nd-year head coach and 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year Lori Walker-Hock, welcome back 21 letterwinners and eight starters from the 2017 squad that went 15-5-1, including 9-2-0 in conference play, to earn the first outright Big Ten championship in program history and advance to the eighth NCAA Tournament in the last nine seasons.
Ohio State will look to replace defender Morgan Wolcott and midfielder Nikki Walts, who both garnered United Soccer Coaches All-America recognition a season ago, along with forward Sammy Edwards, who scored a team-high 10 goals and joined Wolcott and Walts as first team All-Big Ten honorees. The Buckeyes return second team All-Big Ten goalkeeper Devon Kerr, who enters her senior season third on Ohio State’s career goals-against average list at 0.83 and tied for fifth on the career shutout list with 11, along with third-team All-Big Ten selections in senior midfielder Sarah Roberts and freshman defender Izzy Rodriguez. In all, the Buckeyes return 260 combined starts from their eight returning starters.
Ohio State will play nine regular-season contests against 2017 NCAA Tournament teams. The 18-match schedule kicks off with an opening stretch at Duke Aug. 16, at North Carolina Aug. 19 and at Florida Aug. 24 before the Buckeyes’ home-opener against Duquesne Aug. 26. Ohio State’s eight-match home schedule is highlighted by contests against 2017 NCAA participants Florida Gulf Coast Sept. 7, Rutgers Oct. 12 and Wisconsin Oct. 21.