Nov. 18, 2010

By Jeff Seidel
Special to NCAA.com

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The Ohio State field hockey team has spent much of this week fielding congratulations and well-wishes after earning its first trip to the NCAA Division I field hockey championships. Coach Anne Wilkinson wants her Buckeyes to enjoy their accomplishment but not to forget the task at hand.

It will be fun,” Wilkinson said. Were excited to be playing, [but] once the whistle blows, you just have to go out and play.”

Ohio State (18-4) will face top-seeded Maryland at the schools Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Terrapins (21-1) are playing in their 14th national semifinal, including seven of the last eight.

No. 2 North Carolina (21-2) meets No. 3 Virginia (18-3) Friday at 2 p.m. in the other semifinal. The championship game will be at noon Sunday.

Ohio State scored overtime victories over Albany and Syracuse to earn a trip to this weekends national semifinals.

Albany held a 1-0 lead over the Buckeyes with under two minutes left before Paula Pastor-Pitarque tied the game. She then scored in overtime to give Ohio State a 2-1 victory and a spot in the second round versus Syracuse.

Junior co-captain Aisling Coyle scored two goals to help the Buckeyes pull out a 3-2 victory over Syracuse. Coyle got the game-winner on a penalty stroke in overtime. Her other goal tied the game at two with 12 minutes left in the second half.

We knew the Final Four was the goal from the start of the season,” said Coyle. Everyone truly believes that we can go all the way, and wed love to come back to campus as national champions.”

Wilkinson knows that feeling. She played on a national championship lacrosse team at Delaware in 1983 - with Maryland coach Missy Meharg - her then roommate. The two are still good friends and talk every other week during the season.

But both are concentrating on Fridays game, and Wilkinson has learned many lessons from being in a few big games herself as both a coach and player. Shes going to pass on a simple piece of advice to her Buckeyes.

Were going to tell them to continue to do what theyve been doing,” Wilkinson said. We know Maryland has been to the Final Four many times, and theyre very experienced, but our team has experience as well and knows how to win games.”

And those two come-from-behind playoff victories have only given the Buckeyes more to believe in.

We know that we can beat anyone no matter what the score is,” Coyle said. Its never over until the final whistle blows, and we believe it.”