Returning home from their brief trip to Florida, the OSU women’s lacrosse team (2-0) is hoping to continue to rack up wins before reaching the heart of Big Ten play. The Buckeyes will face the Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0) for the third consecutive year this Sunday at 2 p.m. in Ohio Stadium.
OSU is undefeated against Cincinnati, boasting a 5-0 record that dates back to the 2008 season. The closest game that the Bearcats have given the Buckeyes came at Cincinnati in 2015, when OSU won 13-8.
The Buckeyes struggled to score early in their eventual win over Jacksonville last week, but they are confident their attack will generate offense during games. Senior midfielder Christina Turner said there was no panic when the Buckeyes were down five goals last week.
“We just tried to stay calm and composed,” Turner said. “We knew we’d be able to come back from that deficit so it was really just staying calm and trusting what we had been practicing.”
The Buckeyes will continue to look to their whole team for offense, with 10 different players scoring so far. Sophomore midfielder Baley Parrott and freshman Liza Hernandez have been a source of constant points in the first couple of weeks. Parrott has been near perfect on the offensive end, converting on five of six shots she’s taken this season with three of them coming off of free position starts.
“We have threats everywhere,” Parrott said. “Playing against us opponents have to worry about all seven players at one time so it opens everything up and it’s giving me and my teammates more opportunities.”
Hernandez has continued to impress her team in the opening two weeks, but she’s also caught the attention of the conference. For the second consecutive time she was named Big Ten Freshman of the week after her six point outing against Jacksonville.
“We think she’s someone who, with the ball, is really a triple threat,” OSU coach Alexis Venechanos said. “She can dodge, she can feed and she can create for others around her. We knew that this was going to happen and opportunities are coming to her and she’s making the most of them.”
The game Sunday will be the Bearcats’ first game of the season, so it is hard to know exactly what their identity this season will be. Cincinnati finished last year with a 4-13 record, losing all of their conference games.
Cincinnati coach Gina Oliver graduated from OSU in 2005 and during her time as a Buckeye she was a four year letterwinner and three time All-American. She is OSU’s current leader in ground balls (236) and caused turnovers (201) and sits sixth in goals scored at 125.
Oliver will need to find new sources of offense as, similarly to OSU, their top two points getters have graduated. This could, however, be a tough task for the Buckeyes’ coaching staff. There will be a good number of fresh faces playing for Cincinnati, which is already a team that OSU does not have a breadth of knowledge about.
“I think their coach is the best player in our program’s history,” Venechanos said. “She’s going to get them ready and they are always prepared for us so we’re going to have to be sharp from the start.”