The No. 12 Ohio State women’s lacrosse team (10-1, 4-1) is off to a program-best start and riding high on an eight-game winning streak. The Buckeyes are set to put those marks to the test on Saturday with a matchup against No. 8 Penn State (9-2, 4-1) at home.
The Buckeyes will be honoring nine seniors prior to the game. This class has collectively won 44 games, and a victory on Saturday would tie the 2015 record for most wins. This group of Buckeyes will also be looking for their third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, which would be a first in the history of the program.
With it being senior night and huge rivalry matchup, senior midfielder Olivia DiCarlantonio said the team just wants to go out and produce a full-squad effort.
“A lot of the girls are saying they want to win it for us,” DiCarlantonio said. “They beat us last year and we still have a chip on our shoulders from that, so we’re all focusing on getting that W.”
OSU ranks second in the Big Ten in draw controls and shot percentage and third in goals, assists, total points, shots and saves. In the attack, senior attackers Cian Dabrowski and Rainey Hodgson rank in the top five in nearly every offensive category. Defensively, senior goalkeeper Katie Frederick is second in the Big Ten in goals-against average and third for saves per game.
Sharpening the sword
Senior attackman Kelsey Gallagher said the team has been focusing on collective energy and execution, which are two key components in the success thus far this season.
“Our chemistry as a team, from defenders to midfielders to attack, and being a whole unit on the field is huge,” Gallagher said. “We’re just making sure we’re not making mental mistakes and have two-way communication with everyone.”
OSU is getting to the point of the season where turnovers lead to goals, and the team can’t afford that, DiCarlantonio said. The Buckeyes are focusing on sharp passing, effective movement and acting with purpose.
“We’ve been having practices where we’re not really focused on contact, and more focused on practicing our technique,” DiCarlantonio said. “We need to keep sharpening our swords for the game.”
In preparing for the game, Frederick said the defense is focusing on its own tactics instead of worrying about the opponent’s.
“We’re breaking some things down and we’re paying attention to the details rather than the bigger picture,” Frederick said. “The key points for us include the defense being the enforcers rather than having Penn State be the influencers.”
Gallagher said the attack has been training to make sure the players have patience and execution.
“We’re going to make sure we take our time to get the right look, and to not rush our opportunities,” Gallagher said. “We need to be taking the best chance that we have and capitalize in those moments.”
Scouting Penn State
Penn State also boasts some standout players, including Madison Carter, a freshman who has already won three Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. Carter is third on the team with 27 goals and is the fourth-highest-scoring freshman in the country. The Nittany Lions opened the Big Ten with a 16-9 win over Rutgers at home last weekend.
Gallagher said Penn State is a tough squad, and this game is the biggest of the season to date.
“We don’t like Penn State and they don’t like us, so we’re looking to come out on top,” Gallagher said. “We need to get a win against this team if we want to carry on to the postseason, and we have a lot to make up for with a little revenge from last season.”
Penn State leads the all-time series with OSU 19-5 and won the last two meetings. The last seven contests have been decided by three goals or fewer. Last season, the teams met twice, first in the regular season and then in the Big Ten championship. The Buckeyes lost 14-13 during the season and got knocked out by the Nittany Lions, 13-11, in the final game of the tournament.
DiCarlantonio said the two are always competitive programs even though each side has completely different teams than they’ve seen in the past, having graduating several seniors.
“The last time by class beat them was my sophomore year, and we’ve only beat them once in my four years so we’re not going to go down easy,” DiCarlantonio said. “It was such a huge win for us to beat them, and I want the other girls to experience that feeling.”
After Saturday, the Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to play Maryland in College Park, Maryland, on April 16 at noon.