The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team (3-0) scored early and often in its 17-8 win over Cincinnati (0-1) on Sunday. The Buckeyes solved their early-scoring woes of the previous two games, netting five unanswered goals in the first four minutes of play.
“The theme the whole week was getting off to a fast start,” coach Alexis Venechanos said. “I felt like we came in really focused and we were really on a mission. We knew Cincinnati was going to be well coached.”
This was the sixth meeting between the two schools and the third in the past three seasons. The Buckeyes’ win kept them undefeated in six meetings against the Bearcats, with the series dating back to 2008.
Within the first two minutes, sophomore midfielders Mackenzie Maring and Erika Keselman scored giving OSU the early lead. Then, for the second time this season, freshman midfielder Liza Hernandez scored two goals within 30 seconds, her first two of four on the day.
“We wanted to just come out and play our game,” Hernandez said. “It feels amazing (to score four times). I just know I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and everyone around me.”
Senior midfielder Morgan Fee added a goal of her own — her first of two in the first half — putting the Buckeyes up 5-0 with 25:16 remaining. The Bearcats would win the next draw, gaining possession of the ball for the first time in the game.
Cincinnati took advantage of their first time with the ball when junior midfielder Brooke Kovinsky scored the first goal of the year for her program at the 24:52 mark in the first half. OSU went on to win 11 draw controls and take 25 shots compared to Cincinnati’s five and 12, respectively, showing how much the Buckeyes dominated the ball early. Venechanos said that a lot of that is attributed to the stellar play of Fee, who won 7 draw controls in the game.
“She stepped up huge,” Venechanos said. “We put her in for the last five draws of the last game and she got those. So she’s been working really hard and I’m really happy for her.”
Maring and Keselman again would score back-to-back goals moving OSU’s lead up six with 22:06 left in the first half. The Bearcats would respond with two goals from freshmen Monica Borzillo and McKenna Rushford.
Up 7-3, OSU went on a 5-1 scoring run to close out the half, which included a hat trick from junior attacker Molly Wood, Fee’s second of the game and sophomore midfielder Baley Parrott’s sixth goal of the year.
“We were just ready to show what we are and show what we’re made of this year,” Wood said. “We were firing on all cylinders today, we were all in control. It was really fun.”
The Buckeyes opened up the scoring yet again in the second half when freshman attacker Alex Vander Molen scored her first of the day, second of the year, giving OSU a 13-4 lead. Cincinnati would try and fight its way back into the contest, going on a 3-1 scoring run cutting the Buckeyes’ lead to seven with 13:43 to play.
OSU was plagued with turnovers in the second half, committing eight, turning their offense stagnant until Hernandez was able to score her fourth goal with 5:42 left on the clock. The Bearcats netted another goal, but OSU closed the game out with two more goals giving them the win, 17-8. One goal came from junior attacker Lauren Sherry and the other from sophomore attacker Alyssa Amorison in her season debut for the Buckeyes.
For the second straight game freshman goalie Jillian Rizzo collected double digit saves, this time 11 on the day. Rizzo has been a constant safety blanket for this OSU team, helping them hold leads and coming up with big saves when needed.
“She’s amazing,” Hernandez said. “She literally keeps us in games sometimes. I know she’s a freshman but she really doesn’t play like a freshman and we definitely need that.”
In a game that was moved to Ohio Stadium due to some serendipitous February weather, OSU led from wire to wire. The Buckeyes, who took 40 shots compared to the Bearcats’ 25, were able to couple an aggressive attack on the offensive end with stout defensive play.
“It’s always fun to score in the ‘Shoe,” Wood said. “But it was a team effort and that was what was really special.”
OSU has the Stanford Cardinal up next, Friday at home at 6 p.m. Stanford is currently 1-3 on the year and have a game at Saint Mary’s on Tuesday before making the trip to Columbus.
“Stanford is going to give us new challenges,” Venechanos said. “So we’re going to watch film this week, work on ourselves and then worry about Stanford … but it will be a big test for us.”