Field hockey has been a part of Ohio University’s history dating back to the 1960s. Traditionally, it’s a female sport played during the fall, but the Mid-American Conference elected to postpone this upcoming season to the spring.
During this time, it’s important to look back and honor the efforts of those who laid the foundation for others to come. Ohio field hockey has a rich history that has helped grow the female athletics spectrum at the university, providing opportunities for many.
The 1970s were the beginning of a steady incline for the Bobcats. During the 1970-1971 season, the Bobcats only lost one game under third-year coach Catherine Brown.
Despite the success, Brown was out after the 1972 season and Peggy Wynkoop took over the reins. Wynkoop remained with the team for one season, leading them to a 2-0-4 record. From 1973-1974 the team was led by Barbara Berry, winning six games and losing three.
The next season, Peggy Pruitt was named the head coach of the Bobcats. Coach Pruitt would lead the team to a 13-4-2 record, making a lasting impact. 1977 introduced Coach Kathy Martin to the field, her team earning a 3-7-1 record. Up until this point, the coaching staff for the Bobcats had never been solidified; however, this would change when Coach Kim Brown joined the staff in 1978.
In their first season under Coach Brown, the Bobcats did not do as well as they would have liked, but made progress, nonetheless. With the past season in mind, 1979 was a monumental year for the field hockey team. The university granted the team three scholarships to give to current athletes and recruits, giving the Bobcats an edge for coming years. The team earned a record of 12-6-2 and would go on to win the 1979 state championship against the Miami RedHawks, capping off an outstanding decade.
The 1980s brought big changes for the Bobcats field hockey team. Coach Kim Brown would remain with the team, taking them to new heights each season. The Bobcats would finish the 1980 season with an 11-6-1 record and a third-place finish in the state tournament.
This success would go on to encourage the team to join the Mid-American Conference and NCAA in 1981, opening the field to newer competition. The 1981 team had a 16-4-1 record earning them their first MAC championship. 1982 would prove to be a big year for the team as well, setting the team records for season goals (69) and most wins (20).
The Bobcats continued to be successful in their new conference, winning their division in 1983 and another MAC championship in 1987, with a 11-5 record. 1988 would be Coach Kim Brown’s last season with the Bobcats, ending a 10-year career with a 123-81-18 record. The Bobcats would find another long-term coach in Mary Milne, who began her career in 1989 with a 2-11 record.
This decade proved to be a breakout time for the Bobcats, ending with 17 All-MAC athletes, an All-American and two conference championships in their first 10 years with the MAC.
Coach Mary Milne remained with Ohio for the 1990 season, going 8-5-1. The Bobcats’ success was in part due to freshman standout Marilyn Caccavo, who would go on to win the MAC Freshman of the Year award and All-Mac honors.
In 1991, the Bobcats went 5-12-2, placing three athletes on All-MAC teams. The 1992 season would be a breakeven year for the team with a 7-9-1 record and a first time win over opponent Michigan State 2-1 in overtime. The Bobcats once again had a split season in 1993, going 10-9 and finishing in a tie for second in the MAC and earning second in the conference tournament.
From 1994-1998, the Bobcats would win 39 games and place third in the MAC during the ’97 and ’98 seasons. The 1998 season would be the last under Coach Milne, introducing the team to Shelly Morris in the 1999 season.
In her first season with the team, Coach Morris finished with a 13-9 record. 1999 also saw the nomination of Ali Johnstone to the NFHCA All-American team. The 1990s proved to be a decade of continued excellence for Ohio, with 81 total wins and 30 All-MAC athletes, with Marilyn Caccavo being nominated all four years of her career. Ohio University field hockey would continue to be on the rise for years coming.
The Bobcats would begin the decade still under the direction of Coach Shelly Morris and with a brand new field named after former coach Peggy Pruitt.
The 2000 season was a split-even year with the team finishing with a 10-10 record that earned them second place in the MAC. Next season proved to be a huge year for the field hockey team, with a 16-5 record and their first MAC Championship since 1987.
The team also made a splash during the 2001 season when they went to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. The success of this year also earned Coach Morris the NFHCA West Region Coach of the Year and player Ali Johnstone the MAC Player of the Year and Ohio Female Student Athlete of the Year awards.
Johnstone would also go on to earn her second round of All-American honors, and Lauren Mazziotto would earn her first. The Bobcats would continue to be successful, winning 28 games from 2002-2004, with the ’04 season being Coach Morris’ last. Coach Neil Macmillan would take over the program in 2005, the team going 8-12 his first year and player Lindsay Rotherberger winning MAC Player of the Year.
The 2006 and 2007 seasons brought back-to-back MAC Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances for the Bobcats, earning Coach Macmillan the MAC Coach of the Year award in 2006 and the NFHCA West Region Coach of the Year award in 2007. The Bobcats went 11-12 in the 2008 season, placing third in the MAC, but would go on to win another championship in 2009. Ohio also made its third appearance in the NCAA tournament in the decade during the 2009 season.
Coach Macmillan also won his second MAC Coach of the Year honor for the outstanding work of the 2009 team. Freshman Andrea Biegalski earned the honor of MAC Freshman of the Year, capping off an incredible season. The 2000s were dominant years for the Bobcats, they placed 46 player on All-MAC teams, giving them confidence going into the next decade.
Coach Macmillan stayed with the Bobcats to begin the new decade and started it with a third-place conference finish at 12-10. The next season was another big one for the Bobcats, finishing 19-5 and with another MAC championship and NCAA tournament appearance.
Coach Macmillan would win his third MAC Coach of the Year award for his efforts, while players Cayleigh Immelman won MAC Freshman of the year and Louzeth Schutte won MAC Player of the year.
The Bobcats continued the momentum into the next few seasons under Coach Macmillan, going 39-63 from 2012-2017. Due to her outstanding presence on the field, player Luli Gomez Temel won the MAC Player of the Year award for her efforts during the 2013 season.
The 2018 season began with a coaching change for the field hockey team, bringing alumnus Ali Johnstone in to take over the program. In her first season, Coach Johnstone led the Bobcats to a 5-12 record, finishing fourth in the MAC. Next season would be a split record of 8-8, with player Kendall Ballard earning the MAC Offensive Player of the Year award.
While the outlook for the future regarding sports may be uncertain, it is certain that Ohio field hockey will remain a force to be reckoned with within the Mid-American Conference. The team has been an important part to university history and will continue to be for years to come. Although the 2020 season may be on pause, there are lots of things to celebrate about these athletes.