Postseason field hockey is here. No. 2 Maryland field hockey will take on No. 20 Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. The game is scheduled for Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. on Big Ten Plus.
The tournament will take place at Buckeye Varsity Field in Columbus, Ohio, home of the aforementioned Buckeyes.
Maryland (16-2) is the two-seed after a successful 2022 campaign, highlighted by 10 victories over NFHCA top-25 ranked opponents. The Terps had two seven-game winning streaks this season, with notable victories over reigning national champion Northwestern, then-No. 3 Iowa and then-No. 8 Michigan.
Ohio State finished the season with momentum, going 7-2 from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30. After an early season five-game losing streak, the Buckeyes gained steam, highlighted by an impressive offensive outing in their 7-1 victory over Central Michigan on Oct. 7. The Buckeyes are back in the conference tournament for the first time since 2020 and will look to pull off the monumental upset of the Terps.
Maryland leads the all-time series with a perfect 16-0 record that includes two victories in the postseason. The Big Ten rivals met on Nov. 2, 2018, with Maryland cruising to a 9-1 victory. Following their playoff matchup, Maryland would secure its most recent Big Ten Tournament title.
These two teams met this season, with Maryland using a fourth-quarter scoring explosion to carry it to a 4-2 victory on Sept. 16. Their meeting was entertaining earlier in the season and figures to be the case to open the Big Ten Tournament.
Now let’s look at the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio State Buckeyes 11-7 (3-5 Big Ten)
2021 record: 7-11 (1-7 Big Ten)
Head coach Jarred Martin is in his sixth season leading the charge for the Ohio State field hockey program. Martin has won 63 games in his first six seasons, highlighted by an appearance in the 2020 Big Ten championship game.
The former Duke coach finished his first season with Ohio State in 2017 with a 10-9 record, which included an impressive 8-3 slate in nonconference contests.
Under his leadership, Ohio State had one of the best offensive seasons in 2019. The Buckeyes were 10th in the NCAA with 3.1 goals per contest.
The 2018 season was a successful season for Martin and the Buckeyes, as their 12 victories that season were their most since 2011.
Martin has established excellence in his time on campus, with two seasons of at least 10 victories. Ohio State has been a perennial contender in the Big Ten and will be a team to monitor this postseason.
Players to know
Sarah Charley, senior forward, No. 25 — Charley is tied for fourth in the Big Ten with 11 goals on the season. In the Buckeyes’ recent 4-0 victory over Ball State, she filled the stat sheet with four shots, one goal and two shots on goal. The Washington, Ohio, native led the team with 55 shots and four game-winners this season. Charley lifted Ohio State to a 2-1 victory over Indiana with an athletic fourth-quarter goal. Ohio State’s offense starts with Charley’s ability to be aggressive and limiting her effectiveness bodes well for chances of advancing in the conference tournament. She recorded a goal in the team’s 4-2 loss to Maryland earlier this season.
Leanne Bough, senior midfielder, No. 1 — On senior day on Oct. 30, Bough recorded the second goal in Ohio State’s 4-0 victory against Ball State. Bough is second on the team with eight goals and 49 shots this season. She added five shots and one shot on goal in Ohio State’s 2-1 victory over Michigan State on Sept. 30. The senior midfielder chipped in three assists to add to an aggressive Ohio State attack. Bough will use her speed and agility to find favorable scoring opportunities. Defenses would be wise to monitor Bough’s whereabouts because she is relentless when attacking opponents’ cages.
Makenna Webster, junior forward, No. 28 — Webster is a key piece of an Ohio State offensive attack that looks to pressure opponents the entire duration of a game. She recorded a hat trick and six shots in Ohio State’s 5-1 victory over Bellarmine on Oct. 23. The St. Louis native recorded two shots, one goal and one shot on goal in the Buckeyes’ 3-0 victory over Albany on Aug. 28.
Webster is a player to watch when the defense is keying in on her teammates. With the defense focusing on stifling others, she has shown the ability to get involved on the offensive end. She has had a unique college career, previously playing two seasons of ice hockey at Wisconsin and being named the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player during the team’s 2021 national championship run.
Defense. The Buckeyes play in one of the toughest conferences in the country with several talented programs in the Big Ten. With offensive juggernauts on its schedule, Ohio State’s defense held serve by not allowing more than five goals in a contest this season. Junior goalkeeper Abby Danson leads the Big Ten with 72 saves on the year. The Buckeyes’ defense has played well this season and figures to play a role in their outcome in the Big Ten Tournament.
Goals. Ohio State is fifth in the Big Ten with 2.7 goals per contest. The Buckeyes have one player (Sarah Charley) on their roster with at least 10 goals scored this season. The next closest athlete to Charley’s clip is Bough, who only has eight. Finding a way to produce more goals alleviates the pressure of their defense. With the Buckeyes seeking a conference title, this is an area for improvement for the host of the Big Ten Tournament.
Three things to watch
1. Will the Terps advance past the first round for the first time since 2018? Maryland will be seeking its first victory in the Big Ten Tournament since 2018. Last season, the Terps fell to Penn State, 3-2, on a fourth-quarter goal by Anna Simon. This season, Maryland has been clicking on all cylinders. The Terps finished the season on a two-game winning streak with triumphs against then-No. 5 Virginia and then-No. 13 UConn. With a team loaded on both ends of the stick, it will be a disappointment if they fail to advance past the opening round.
2. Can Maryland continue its defensive dominance? The Terps are 7-1 in the conference with a strong defense led by junior defender Rayne Wright and senior defender Maura Verleg. The two have been instrumental for a Maryland defense that is sixth in the Big Ten with 1.4 goals relinquished per game. Maryland seems to be hitting its stride at the perfect time, as it has limited its previous two opponents to 10 penalty corners and one goal. The Terps’ defense has also benefited from the interchangeable goalkeeping duo of senior Christina Calandra and sophomore Paige Kieft.
3. Which offense will show up for the Terps? Maryland possesses one of the best offensive units in the country, with three players scoring 10 goals or more this season. Maryland’s depth allows its offensive attack to wreak havoc on teams, as 13 different Terps have registered a goal this season. The Terps have combined for 22 shots and 10 penalty corners but only four goals in their current win streak. When Maryland’s offense is clicking, it is tough to slow it down. But the Terps have shown the capability to play in a low-scoring game as well, with seven of their victories having a one-goal margin.