On a day where the class of 2014 is slated to be honored, the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team is set to host a top 25 matchup against Penn State.
The No. 17 Buckeyes (10-4, 3-1) are set to host the No. 8 Nittany Lions (8-5, 2-2) while honoring five senior athletes and their OSU careers: Tayler Kuzma, Kaila Gottlick, Cara Facchina, Katie Chase and Heather Gravinese.
Penn State enters the match up coming off a 13-8 victory against Cornell Tuesday. The Nittany Lions force an average of 9.8 turnovers per game, which is good for second in the conference and also sit at third in draw controls with 13.7. The team is led by sophomore midfielder Madison Cyr with 32 points and junior attackman Kelly Lechner with 25 points. The Nittany Lions are strong in the net with their sophomore goalie, Emi Smith, who has a .447 save percentage.
OSU coach Alexis Venechanos is anticipating her team to have a hard battle Sunday in order to send the seniors out on a high note.
“Penn State is really similar to us,” Venechanos said. “They have seven or eight really strong threats to goal, likewise we spread the ball around pretty well, so in that sense, we are similar.”
Venechanos said the teams have played similar schedules this season and have had some tough competitions, so the skill sets each team has are compatible.
“It’s going to come down to the little things,” Venechanos said. “50-50 balls and who is going to work the hardest. That is what it is going to come down to.”
Junior attackman Jackie Cifarelli said she knows the competition is strong, but is confident in the progress the Buckeyes have made thus far in the season.
“We’ve definitely stepped up from the beginning of the season after a few losses,” Cifarelli said. “We have been coming out strong and having a different mentality going into these big (American Lacrosse Conference) games.”
Cifarelli said in the past, the team has had close games with Penn State, but is hopeful a strong start to the game will help the team capture the win.
Chase also expects the intensity of the team to set the tone of the game. She said things the squad has been working on this week in practice have prepared them.
“(We’ve been) working on fundamentals,” Chase said. “Cleaning everything up and working together.”
Chase said she hopes they can go out on a good note for Senior Day.
The first draw is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.