Jillian Shive is one of the best players in Ohio high school history. That’s why she started her career in the Atlantic Coast Conference at Louisville. Now, she’s leading Ohio just a year after being at Louisville.
Shive has been the best attacking player for Ohio this year; she has nine goals. Her goal scoring ability has been crucial because senior Kendall Ballard, who led the Bobcats last season, hasn’t played this year.
Shive’s ability in front of the goal separates her from other players. She thrives in the chaos that often occurs inside the shooting circle.
“She's got really quick hands, so she's able to get into that chaos and make something out of a terrible situation. Whether it’s a shot on goal, she gets a goal or she'll get a corner,” coach Ali Johnstone said.
Ohio did not have a natural center forward on its roster before Shive transferred. The Bobcats lost Maria Russell, who graduated. Russell scored 26 goals in her career.
Shive has stepped into that role and excelled in front of goal, something Louisville coach Justine Sowry could see when she was recruiting Shive.
“Jillian is a pure striker with a nose for the goal,” Sowry said in a news release when Shive signed her National Letter of Intent to Louisville. “Her competitive attitude, feistiness and quick stick work has enabled her to be a viable threat in the circle earning either penalty corners or shots on goal.”
At Louisville, Shive played in 18 of 22 games, but she wasn’t involved in the attack. She only had one shot, which came in a 6-0 win over Ohio.
Shive felt restricted in what she did, and she decided to transfer to find a school at which she would thrive.
“It really came down to — I wanted to be somewhere where I could contribute and make a big difference, and it just wasn't happening at Louisville,” Shive said. “I had to dig deep down and realize what was going to make me happiest and grow as a player.”
The Lebanon, Ohio, native decided to return to her home state and to Ohio University, where her older sister graduated from, to find playing time.
Additionally, she has had more freedom at Ohio in first-year coach Johnstone’s system. Here, Shive gets to play her preferred position.
"I definitely am able to play more of a high forward for Ohio, which I wasn't able to do, and that's more of my type of game,” Shive said. “I like to be up there and press high and irritate the defense and stay up and get the rebounds.”
Against UC Davis on Sept. 20, the press used by the Bobcats succeeded. Shive scored the lone goal less than two minutes into the game after stealing the ball from an Aggie backfield player.
The high press the Bobcats use can only work if all the players are working well together. That’s happened on the forward line. Shive is joined on that line by juniors Brittany Keen and Karynne Baker.
She led Ursuline Academy to the Elite Eight all four years and twice to the Final Four while being the All-Southwest Ohio Field Hockey Player of the Year three times. She holds the league records for single-season goals, assists and points.
Additionally, she has the most goals in Ohio high school history.
Shive has experienced international field hockey through three years spent living in Australia as a child. She also played on a club team, where she played for U.S. National Team member and two-time Olympian, Keli Smith-Puzo.
All but three of her 27 shots this year have been on goal, and she’s forcing goalies to make saves. That is in part due to the team’s focus early on getting shots on goal. With that strategy, there is a chance a goal can be scored.
Shive has scored on 33 percent of her shots this year, and she’s been one of the main reasons the team is better attacking than last year.
"She's coming from the ACC, and we're very lucky for her to come from a top program — a top-10 program — to Ohio University,” Johnstone said.
As Shive continues to develop, along with the Bobcats becoming more comfortable with the new system, she could climb into the Ohio record book.