A resounding 12-4 loss to No. 15 Penn State on Saturday was not how the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team intended to start Big Ten play.
Many players saw the start of the conference season as a new beginning, a chance to reset after barely exceeding a .500 record with five wins and four losses in the non-conference portion of the regular season.
After Saturday’s result, the Buckeyes (5-5, 0-1 Big Ten) will look to put an end to their losing streak of four games and must now make their way to Baltimore to confront No. 5 Johns Hopkins (7-2, 1-0 Big Ten). Ohio State players said after an exhausting week of practice they felt prepared to take on the Blue Jays and prove themselves by getting their first Big Ten win of the year.
“I think we’ve always matched up well with Hopkins. We’ve always given each other trouble, I’d say,” redshirt senior midfielder John Kelly said. “I feel good about how we match up with them this year and we’re going to have to sit down and play good defense. We’re going to have to make sure we control the ball on offense, take good opportunities — not just any opportunities we see. If we do that and we play a little bit tougher than we have been, then I think we’ll be good.”
Johns Hopkins has posted six straight wins and has scored 13 or more points in each of those games. It picked up its most recent win Sunday, knocking off No. 9 Rutgers 13-12. The Blue Jays are 7-3 all-time against the Buckeyes, but two of Ohio State’s three series wins came last season.
Kelly said while he couldn’t speak for others, he felt focusing on rank and stats alone would not be beneficial to his team.
“I grew up near Hopkins and I know a lot of those guys now,” he said. “They’re a good team, they’re a talented team, but I feel very strongly in the way that we present ourselves and our brand and this team right here that if we can go out and play our best lacrosse we will take it to them.”
Ohio State senior midfielder Trevor Hodgins agreed with Kelly, saying he viewed the matchup as another chance for the Buckeyes to pick up their first conference win. He said winning groundballs and maintaining solid defense will be especially important.
Kelly also noted that the necessity of giving maximum effort in every area of the game was one of the biggest takeaways from the team’s loss to Penn State, and putting forth that effort Saturday would help Ohio State maintain a competitive edge to propel it to a win.
The Buckeyes’ tilt with Johns Hopkins begins at noon Saturday.