In the second round of the Big Ten tournament a season ago, the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team pulled off a stunning upset when it took down No. 1 Maryland 11-10.
The No. 8 Buckeyes (11-1, 2-0), currently off to the best start in program history, have a chance to serve another upset to the top-ranked Terrapins (12-0, 2-0) this Saturday.
OSU heads to College Park, Maryland, amid a nine-game winning streak, the most recent being a victory over No. 12 Penn State last weekend. That win, along with last season’s upset, is giving the Scarlet and Gray confidence heading into the major test.
“That win over Penn State has given us a lot of confidence,” said senior attackman Rainey Hodgson. “We can compete at that high level and (the win) is reassuring us.”
The Nittany Lions had been a thorn in the Buckeyes’ side for quite some time. Prior to Saturday, OSU had lost nine of its last 10 games against Penn State. After jumping over that hurdle, Hodgson said the team has worked on practicing at the level it’s been playing at in the games.
“We’re really using that momentum in practice and hoping to transfer it over to the game,” she said.
The Buckeyes are expecting there to be a great deal of excitement on Saturday, said senior midfielder Christine Easton. Maryland is one of the premier programs in the country, having won back-to-back national championships, so its games usually draw a sizable crowd. Plus, it’s senior night for the Terrapins, likely adding another dimension to the atmosphere.
That isn’t going to faze the Buckeyes, though, Easton said.
“It’ll be a fun environment,” she said. “We love playing in front of big crowds.”
Added Hodgson: “They’re going to be hyped up, but we’re super excited for it also.”
A look at Maryland
When trying to find reasons for the Terrapins’ success, look no further than their offense. Maryland boasts one of the nation’s most high-octane scoring units, registering 15.42 goals per game, which is good for second in the country. For comparison, OSU averages 12.83 per contest.
The Terrapins light up the scoreboard by spreading around the wealth. They have eight players who have double-digit goal totals, with sophomore attackman Megan Whittle leading the way with 40.
“Maryland is very team-oriented. They’re all really good,” Hodgson said. “It’s not like there is one or two main people that you’ve got to focus on.”
As good as Maryland’s offense is, its defense isn’t something to be overlooked. The Terrapins are tied for fifth in goals allowed per game, surrendering a mere 6.50. They have yet to allow an opponent to score double digits.
The Buckeyes know all about how talented the Terrapins are, but they’re not backing down.
“Maryland is very good, but so are we,” Hodgson said. “We beat them before by being us, and want to continue that.”
To continue that, both Easton and Hodgson said it will take an all-around solid performance.
“We need every single person to play their best,” Easton said.
Hardware for Hodgson
Hodgson was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after her stellar performance on Saturday against Penn State. She recorded a career-high eight points with four goals and four assists. Hodgson leads the Big Ten with two assists per game and is second in the conference with four points per contest.
It was the first time in her career collecting the award.
“It was really cool,” Hodgson said. “But our team as whole really went out this weekend and killed it, and it was really inspiring to be such a big part of that.”
Easton said Hodgson isn’t just a key cog to the Buckeyes’ overall success, but to her personal success, as well.
“I could not score any goals without her,” Easton said.
Hodgson, at times, acts as the glue for the Buckeyes, taking command of the other nine players and holding them together during critical moments, Easton said.
“She really knows what she’s doing,” Easton said. “It brings the team together having her out on the field.”
After taking on the Terrapins, the Buckeyes have another East Coast opponent on the docket in Rutgers (3-10, 0-2). The game is set to begin at 7 p.m. on April 21 in Piscataway, New Jersey.