[Audrey Paquette | WOUB]

Ohio field hockey opens its season with a 3-1 victory over California

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – Opening its season and non-conference game play, the young Ohio field hockey team started their season off right with a 3-1 win over the California Golden Bears.

It was a defensive show in the first half, which was started by a couple of key saves early on from Ohio’s goalkeeper, Nele Graner.

“Early saves are always a great way to get in the mood to get ready,” fifth-year senior Nele Graner said.

Ohio’s Katelyn Whittle led a couple of good chances throughout the first quarter, but they worked to no avail, as Cal’s defense was stout early on.

After a scoreless first quarter, Cal came out firing and took control throughout the second quarter, as it came up with two good chances and a corner early in the second. Cal couldn’t get the zero off the board, though, as the game was tied 0-0 going into halftime.

Ohio defense swarms a California player in a defensive battle
Ohio defense swarms a California player in a defensive battle [Maria Monesi | WOUB]

Ohio finally got the scoring started just 30 seconds into the second half, as freshman Mijntje Ligtenberg fired a shot from close range to notch her first Ohio goal. Katelyn Whittle’s aggressiveness from early on paid off as well, as she assisted on the goal putting Ohio up 1-0.

With 6:37 remaining in the third quarter, Cal tied the game at one with a goal from Sara Stone, which was assisted by Rachel Buttinger. Ohio’s defense was excellent to this point, but they slipped up letting the goal get by. 

Ohio’s defense rebounded well, as they went the rest of the game without allowing a goal and getting crucial stops. Ohio head coach Ali Johnstone emphasized how big it was that the Bobcats’ young defense stepped up in the first game of the season. 

“We’ve been talking about it all spring that defense needs to be more of a mindset, like a team mentality,” Johnstone said.  

The game stayed tied at 1-1 entering the fourth quarter but Ohio took complete control right away. Ohio earned two corners within the first couple minutes of the quarter. Those goals were followed up by what would be the go-ahead goal from freshman Emma Long putting the Bobcats back on top.

Anouk Plaehn (18) advances the ball for Ohio in between a number of California defenders
Anouk Plaehn (18) advances the ball for Ohio [Maria Monesi | WOUB]

Cal had the ball deep in Ohio territory at times during the fourth, but those hopes of forcing a draw were gone after Ohio drew a penalty with just over 30 seconds left in the game. Sophomore Meela Kopp converted the penalty shot to put Ohio up two and eventually lead to the victory. 

The Bobcats started their season off right and they will look to continue the momentum on Friday at Central Michigan with game time set for 3 p.m.