COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State midfield group features a mix of young and old but talent across the board.
2020 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Peyton McNamara is back healthy, as is Norway native Kine Flotre. McNamara scored six goals and had three assists during a spectacular freshman campaign but played in just five matches last season due to injury. Flotre also played in all 14 matches in her first season, registering three goals and an assist. Last year, she was showing glimpses of the special talent that caught head coach Lori Walker-Hock’s eye as a recruit but was sidelined with an injury midway through the year.
Both McNamara and Flotre are back and should anchor a midfield that also returns senior captain Emaly Vatne, fellow senior Kitty Jones Black and junior Christin Baumbick. Vatne played in all 20 games last season, appearing both in the midfield and on the forward line. She scored a goal and had four assists last season but her biggest contribution to this year’s team is her leadership. A veteran of 62 games, the Sterling Heights, Mich., native will bring a calming presence both on and off the field. Jones Black started 17 of the 20 matches last season and was third on the team with five assists. Baumbick appeared in 16 matches and scored her first collegiate goal in the 2-1 win at Maryland.
All three newcomers in the midfield should challenge for time this right away. Ella Giannola is a talented midfielder from Ladera Ranch, Calif. She has great vision and can play at any of the three midfield positions. Kira Watase is a native of Mililani, Hawaii and played her club soccer for Whitfield SC. Gabriela “Guzzy” Rotolo was one of the top prospects in the Columbus area. She is a powerful player and is an asset in many ways on set pieces.
Associate head coach Brian Jankowski’s thoughts on the midfielders
Missing most of last season with injury, Peyton is healthy and ready to attack this fall. She has reached several milestones in her career thus far, including being named B1G Freshman of the Year as well as playing with the Jamaican youth and full national teams. Peyton is a dynamic midfield player that not only supports the attack but can join the attack from her midfield position. She is a competitor and has the attitude and demeanor of a champion.
This tricky Norwegian will return to the Buckeye midfield continuing to connect the lines as she has the last two seasons. Kine missed the second half of last season with a broken foot but is now back healthy. She can score goals in multiple ways as well as create chances for others. Kine is no doubt one of the most skillful players in the Big Ten. Known for her game intelligence, Kine will often move herself into wide areas to assist in the build. As good as she is going forward, Kine is also a great defensive midfielder, cutting out passes, winning aerial duals and making important tackles.
Buckeye nation is lucky to have a player and leader like Emaly Vatne returning. This veteran midfielder has logged a ton of minutes in the Buckeye midfield. Prior to Ohio State, Emaly developed in the Michigan Hawks program and also in the youth national team set-up for The United States. Emaly has transformed her soccer ability into the ability to not only lead but also to coach. She will be an excellent coach one day and until then, she not only provides her services in the midfield but also as an on-field coach for the team.
Hailing from Hawaii, Kitty Jones-Black moved into central midfield last season and did not look back. She continued that progression creating multiple assists and goal scoring opportunities with her skill, passing ability, and aggressive defending. Another tremendous athlete in the midfield, Kitty can play multiple positions and is as dangerous out wide as she is in the middle of the park.
Skill, stamina, technique, and game intelligence are all words that can accurately describe Christin Baumbick. This center midfielder from Cleveland, Ohio played her club soccer for both Internationals and Ohio Premier. Christin is one of the best athletes in the program and is a player who fans credit as being fun to watch.
This California based, left footed central midfielder has all the characteristics of being and excellent Buckeye midfielder. Ella can play any position in midfield, possesses high levels of awareness and vision and is as very comfortable on the ball in crowded midfield areas. Finishing chances is another strength of Ella’s as she has many different ways to find the back of the net in her shooting arsenal.
Another exciting Hawaiian, Kira will play in the middle of midfield for the Buckeyes. Kira is extremely comfortable with the ball at her feet and is equally difficult to take the ball from. Kira also possesses high levels of athleticism and will be able to play heavy minutes in the Buckeye midfield because of her dedication to her fitness routines. Kira has all the tricks and passing range that will make her a favorite of the forwards for which she will supply the ball.
Gabriela “Guzzy” Rotolo
Returning from an injury, Guzzy will be slowly working her way into the team this fall. This local product played her club soccer for Ohio Premier under the direction of Chris King and Willie Gage. When healthy, Guzzy is an old school powerful midfielder who will not shy away from physical confrontations and is very good in the air. Guzzy will play in the holding midfield role for the Buckeyes. You will see a player who will do anything to keep the ball out of the net and is also very dangerous on set plays.