The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team (6-5) has dropped four of their last five games, three of which came on the road to Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Harvard. The latest loss came in a one-goal, overtime contest at home against Michigan.
The Buckeyes now head to New Jersey on Friday to take on Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights were responsible for ending OSU’s 2016 campaign, when they beat the Buckeyes for the second time in the Big Ten tournament.
“After last year we kind of have a rivalry,” senior attacker Molly Wood said. “They ended our season last year and no matter who ends your season you have a chip against them in the next year.”
OSU will need to come out and find a source of offense as they’ve only averaged 8.75 goals per game over their last four contests. The offense has not been at full strength for the last couple games, as freshman attacker Liza Hernandez has missed the previous two games.
“She’s working hard to back on the field,” OSU coach Alexis Venechanos said. “We’re going to continue to work together as a unit. I think our offense, midfield, defense and goaltending is picking it up and that’s all you’ve gotta do is control what you can bring.”
While the Buckeyes have hit a rough patch, they could not have been a better spot in the season for a slump to occur. Their last four losses have been by an average of just 2.75 goals against some very tough competition on the road. That coupled with the fact that Big Ten play is still young bodes well for OSU (0-1 Big Ten) if the team is able to come out on the right end of this swing in New Jersey.
“With Big Ten play, we all know how important this part of the season is,” sophomore midfielder Baley Parrott said. “I think we’re all going to come out really fired up for the rest of the season.”
Rutgers (5-4, 0-1 Big Ten) are coming off an 18-7 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions, but were riding a three-game win streak prior. Their leading points getter, senior attacker Amanda Turturro, has 14 goals and 11 assists, and will look to continue to be a steady stream of production for her team, but the Scarlet Knights are able to find goals from many different players. Their leading scorer, junior attacker Nicole Kopyta, has found the back of the net 17 times coming off of the bench.
“We all have some of our closest friends that pgo and play lacrosse at Rutgers so I think it makes it a friendly rivalry in a way,” Parrott said. “I think we’re all that much more motivated with the way our season ended last year. We’re that much more motivated to come back this year and beat them.”
The Buckeyes will remain in New Jersey over the weekend to take on the University of Southern California on Sunday. The No. 10 Trojans are 6-2 on the season and will also arrive to the Northeast on Friday, when they take on Stony Brook. The game between OSU and Southern Cal will take place at a neutral site — Mountain Lakes High School.
“We love playing in the Northeast,” Venechanos said. “A majority of our players are from there … so I think it’s an opportunity for both of our programs to play in front of some friends and family but also play against a strong opponent.”
The first game of the weekend is set for a 7 p.m. face-off against Rutgers, with the second game scheduled to start at noon on Sunday.