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Women’s lacrosse: Ohio State begins vital four-game road trip with high-powered offense

Caption: Freshman goalie Jill Rizzo saves a shot against Vermont Credit: Walt Middleton – Courtesy of OSU Athletics

The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team is set to embark on a four-game road voyage, beginning with Duquesne at 3 p.m. on Friday. Their previous five games, however, have been the start of a new era for Division I women’s lacrosse, the shot-clock era.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel implemented a 90-second shot clock for the first time in collegiate women’s lacrosse history beginning this year. This was done in hopes of reducing the impact of clock management and to speed up the pace of play.

“You know from two different perspectives, every team is always in it, right? Even if you are down by five or six goals,” OSU coach Alexis Venechanos said. “Maybe in that second half you are going to have an opportunity to get the ball back and continue to execute well and on attack, get back in the game.”

Similar to basketball, the men’s lacrosse game adapted a shot clock prior to the women’s game. The possession timer in men’s lacrosse is 60 seconds shorter than the women’s shot clock, but serves the same purpose of forcing play to be initiated quickly.

Already this season, the OSU women’s lacrosse team is averaging five more shots per game than they were last year, giving the Buckeyes an increase in goals scored per game, 11.94 last season compared to this year’s 13.20. Senior midfielder Paulina Constant, however, doesn’t feel like the shot clock has changed the team’s strategy.

“It speeds the game up a little bit, it’s nothing too dramatic,” Constant said. “In practice we practice with the shot clock … but other than that there is no really game plan with the shot clock, you’re aware of it. When it gets to a certain point we have a play to get into.”

The shot clock will count down from 90 and will only be reset once a shot on goal has been attempted. In 2018, the rule will also be instituted at the Division II and III levels.

The Buckeyes have seemed to benefit from the new shot clock but much of that benefit has to do with a deep offensive repertoire. OSU has the top two leading scorers in the Big Ten — four-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week, freshman midfielder Liza Hernandez and junior attacker Molly Wood — with 15 and 14 goals, respectively.

“All athletes want to compete and get shots up and use their natural athletic ability,” Venechanos said. “If we continue to shoot well those five more possessions will end up with some goals.”

The Buckeyes will begin their road stint against the Duquesne Dukes (0-1) who dropped their first game of the year to Penn State. Games against Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Harvard round out what will be a true test of what this year’s team is capable of.

“We have different styles we’re going to have to be ready for,” Venechanos said.

The No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 6-1 on the season and boast wins over Michigan and fellow lacrosse powerhouse, No. 9 Duke. Notre Dame’s leading goal scorer (27) and points getter (35), senior attacker Cortney Fortunato, poses a real threat to the Buckeyes’ defense.

The game against Duquesne is set for a 3 p.m. face-off on Friday, while the match-up with Notre Dame will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in South Bend, Indiana.

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