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Field Hockey: No. 24 Ohio State looks ahead to weekend matches with two ranked opponents

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Leanne Bough looks downfield as she dribbles the ball during the Ohio State-Iowa game on March 19. Ohio State lost 2-1. Credit: Christian Harsa | Special Projects Director

The No. 24 Ohio State field hockey team is looking to add to its four-game winning streak as it travels Friday to East Lansing, opening up conference play with No. 25 Michigan State. The Buckeyes will return to Columbus and host No. 11 Virginia Sunday.

The Buckeyes (5-1) look to cap off their three-game road trip with a win against the Spartans (5-0).

Ohio State was victorious last weekend as it entered the state of North Carolina, knocking off then-No. 14 Wake Forest and following up with a 2-0 win over Appalachian State.

Michigan State is red hot as well, starting off the season on a five-game winning streak, including a 7-1 victory over Ball State in its last matchup.

The Spartans are the top defensive team in the Big Ten, tying for just two goals allowed this season through five games. The Buckeyes, in contrast, are tied for last in the conference in goals scored with 11.

“Their defense is tough. They do a good job of playing together as a unit,” head coach Jarred Martin said. “We have to put people in the right place at the right time to score on them.”

The Buckeyes will look to junior midfielder Leanne Bough, who is fourth in the conference in goals and shots. Bough is also coming off a three-goal weekend in North Carolina.

“She’s really important. The way she works on both sides of the ball is unbelievable,” Martin said. “She’s able to score a lot of different ways, so it’s tough for people to defend.”

Ohio State’s defensive presence will create an impact come Friday.

Senior goalkeeper Aaliyah Hernandez was recently named Big Ten and NFHCA defensive player of the week, making a season-high 10 saves against Wake Forest. Hernandez is also second in the Big Ten in saves and boasts a save percentage of .846.

“She’s a great, experienced goalkeeper. Having her between the nets anchoring our defense is relieving,” Martin said.

Ohio State is 2-11 all-time against Virginia (4-1), last beating the Cavaliers in 2014.

“It would be great for the team and the program to notch the win. It starts a five-game homestand for us and we want to get off to a strong start,” Martin said.

The Buckeyes play the Spartans at 3 p.m. Friday, following up in Columbus on Sunday against Virginia at noon. Both games will be broadcasted on BTN+.

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