It’s 30 degrees on an unseasonable mid-October afternoon and The Ohio State Field Hockey team is headed to a double overtime against their arch-rivals Michigan. Michigan gets off a couple of shots on the Ohio State goal but an orange jersey-clad Buckeye goalkeeper dives, again and again, to make outstanding saves to keep her team in the game, just as she has done all season. That young goalkeeper is Aaliyah Hernandez and she’s a long way from the warmth of her Virginia Beach home. But she perseveres and will give her all for her team until the very end.
Hernandez is in her freshman year at Ohio State and is one of head coach Jarred Martin’s recruits. Martin, who along with his assistant coaches Homero Pardi and Kate Lipton, have really helped bring the program back to respectability. Martin recruited Hernandez out of Bayside High School And Health And Sciences Academy where she was a Four-year letter winner and 2017 team captain and Three-time All-Coastal Conference selection and Max Field Hockey Top 50 player. He had seen her play through the futures field hockey program. And although she had other offers she chose Ohio State over all of them.
“I chose Ohio State because the atmosphere here is amazing,” Hernandez stated. “Everyone has a ton of school pride, the academics are great, and the team was so welcoming and nice even though I hadn’t even committed yet.”
Hernandez has been playing field hockey since 5th grade but has been goalie since 7th grade. She was playing a game on indoor turf in her city and they had an extra set of goalie gear and she volunteered to put it on and since that fateful day, she has remained a goalkeeper.
“I feel anxious being the Ohio State goalkeeper because I want us to make it as far as we can and I want my team mates to know I have their backs and that I’m going to make the saves I can,” the young Hernandez said.
When she’s on the field she doesn’t feel like a freshman yelling out to upperclassmen, she feels simply that she is a goalkeeper communicating to her defense to assist them and guide them to keep from getting shots at their cage. And that positive team-first attitude is why she is a Buckeye and why she was named freshman of the week for the week of October 15th. With 1.69 goals against average, 11 wins, and 3 shutouts she’s shown why she deserves that accolade and maybe more.
Although she is 600 miles from home she has adjusted well because of all her travel time with field hockey when she was in high school. One thing she has not got used to is the Midwestern cold weather. In her spare time, when she has some, she likes to read but mainly she focuses on her sport and her academic classes as she is majoring in Biology and it’s been her desire since the very beginning of High school for her to become an e.r. nurse.
Hernandez gives much credit to her father Toby and mother Maddy as they have pushed her and supported her to achieve a college education because they want better for her then what they had. And although they can’t make many games because of the long distance they support her any way they can.
“My little sister Zoe is so awesome,” Hernandez smiled. “She’s my biggest fan and is so supportive of my field hockey career. Well, all of my family are my biggest fans”
Hernandez and the Buckeyes have a big game Sunday at Buckeye Varsity Field at 1 p.m. as they host a postseason quarterfinals game against 10th ranked Rutgers (13-4 season, 4-4 Big Ten).
“I really think that if we keep working together as a team like we have been then the Ohio State Field Hockey is going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Hernandez exclaimed!