The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team (5-2) will return to Columbus after an opportunity missed in a close 16-13 loss to No. 8 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on Tuesday.
The Fighting Irish historically have given the Scarlet and Gray trouble, with OSU now having just a .348 winning percentage in 23 all-time matchups. Notre Dame defeated the then-No.9 Buckeyes 19-7 in their meeting last season.
Freshmen midfielders Sage Darling and Liza Hernandez led the Buckeyes in scoring with four and three goals, respectively. Notre Dame freshman midfielder Savannah Buchanan and sophomore attack Nikki Ortega each scored a hat trick.
In what was a strong defensive outing for both teams in the first few minutes, Notre Dame struck first, scoring three goals in less than a minute of play. Irish senior midfielder Casey Pearsall scored her 11th goal of the season to begin the onslaught. Ortega and fellow sophomore attack Samantha Lynch would add one each in a span of 23 seconds, stretching their lead to three.
Darling scooped up a loose ball in the offensive zone and scored her third goal of the season as she was falling to give the Buckeyes their first point of the day. Ortega then added her second goal of the game before Darling found the net again for OSU.
Down 4-2, OSU pulled to within one after sophomore midfielder Erika Keselman bounced one past Notre Dame sophomore goalie Samantha Giacalone. But the Fighting Irish responded with three consecutive goals, moving their lead out to four.
The third goal came from senior attack Cortney Fortunato for her 29th of the year.
Ortega secured her hat trick with 12:39 left in the first half, pushing the Fighting Irish lead to five. Hernandez scored her first goal of the day, weaving through traffic before shooting as she fell to the ground.
Notre Dame picked up two more goals in less than a minute, one from Savannah Buchanan and the other from Fortunato, the second goal of the game for both players. Keselman also scored her second of the contest with 6:51 left in the half, keeping them down 10-5.
Fighting Irish senior attack Grace Muller netted her first of the day with 3:07 remaining in the half to give her team a six-goal advantage headed into half. Notre Dame outshot OSU 25-10 in the first and were kept at arm’s reach from the Irish the entire way.
OSU sophomore Baley Parrott opened up the second half with two goals, her 14th and 15th of the season. Hernandez added a free-position goal a few minutes later to cut the Notre Dame lead down to three.
Darling earned her first career hat trick when she found the net in the second half. Darling’s goal was followed by junior attack, and Co-Big Ten Player of the Week, Molly Wood’s first score of the day, cutting the Buckeye deficit to just two.
Ten minutes later at the 8:51 mark, Notre Dame’s Pearsall scored her second of the game giving her team the 13-10 lead, before sophomore defender Hannah Proctor added her first of the year, moving that lead to four.
OSU answered quickly with two back-to-back goals from Darling and Hernandez trailed by just two with 6:26 remaining in the game. OSU continuously found a way to get within striking distance, but the Irish scored a few goals of their own to dispel any comeback.
Leading 14-12, Notre Dame found a way to net two more goals putting them up by four yet again, this time with just 3:25 left in the game. The Buckeyes added another goal with just 1:29 left when Wood scored her second of the game, but it was too little too late. The Fighting Irish gained possession and ran off the remaining seconds on the shot clock.
While OSU had the advantage in draw controls, the Buckeyes turned the ball over a season-high 18 times and were outshot by 10. The win gave Notre Dame its eighth consecutive win of the season.
The Buckeyes travel to Worcester, Massachusetts, on Saturday to play Holy Cross at noon.