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Ohio University midfielder Maeve Gordon attempts to keep the ball away from Saint Louis during their game on August 8. The Bobcats defeated the Billikens 4-1. (FILE)

Field Hockey: Two Ohio players' unique path to Athens through Siena College

When Maeve Gordon and Alex Worrallo began their college field hockey careers in August 2017, Ohio wasn’t in their plans. 

A year later, they are both playing for Ohio after having to leave Siena College in Loudonville, New York, They had to if they wanted to continue playing at the collegiate level.

That decision occurred on March 12 when Siena announced it was cutting its field hockey team after having not hired a coach after the previous one left at season’s end. The players were wondering what was going to happen with no coach, and they weren’t ready for the news that they had to transfer if they wanted to continue playing.

“When we didn't have a coach, we were thinking ‘what is happening?’” Worrallo said. “We were a bit confused going into spring season, but it did come as a shock to us, definitely.”

They had picked Siena because they wanted to spend their entire career there. But they found themselves searching for a new college just a year later. 

“Spending a lot of high school trying to find a school that you want to go to and then having (the program) cut, it was devastating,” Gordon, the West Milford, New Jersey native, said.  

Worrallo was in her first year in the United States from Kidderminster, England, where she’s from. She was unsure what to do in the uncommon situation. 

They were given to option to stay at Siena as students on scholarship, or they could transfer to another school to play field hockey.

"It was really stressful cause it was like you had to decide whether or not you wanted to leave your school,” Gordon said. 

Both wanted to continue playing, so they had to find schools that had openings on the team. The recruiting cycle for incoming freshman was over, and they found themselves up against friends for spots on teams. 

“There’s a whole team of hockey players out there trying to continue their careers in this game and their love of the sport,” Ohio coach Ali Johnstone said. 

At that point, there were few teams still looking for players, but Ohio was one that needed more players. Ohio only returned 11 players from the 2017 team; two of them were goalies. Most teams have around 20 players on their respective teams.  

Even with its incoming freshman, Ohio was still short and looked to transfer players to fill out its roster. Johnstone wanted players who could player her high-pressure style. 

“We were short obviously quite a few players and very late to the recruiting game once we got here,” Johnstone said. 

Johnstone was able to recruit Gordon and Worrallo to Ohio, which was lacking experience from its bench.

Gordon has appeared in seven games this season as a midfielder. She’s averaging 20 minutes per game. Worrallo has only played in four games this season, and she’s only played more than 10 minutes once.

The game against UC Davis this year was when they both had significant playing time in the Bobcats’ 1-0 win. Worrallo logged 41 minutes and Gordon had 33. 

Through nine games, Gordon and Worrallo already have been part of more wins — four — than all of last year at Siena, who went 1-16 a season ago. 

Ohio has a new head coach, returning and new players, including the two transfers. The Bobcats, new and experienced, have the opportunity to show what they can do to help the team. 

“It’s a new beginning for them and it’s a new beginning for us,” Johnstone said. “It's a win-win situation."


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