Ohio State women’s lacrosse has dropped both of its road games this season.
But heading into its second of five straight road contests, the Buckeyes can’t afford another loss.
The Buckeyes (4-2) take on No. 19 UMass (2-1) in Atlanta Sunday, the third straight year Ohio State and UMass have squared off. In the past two seasons, the Minutewomen have won both games by a one-goal margin.
Ohio State head coach Amy Bokker said the Buckeyes go into every game with the same mindset and focus, regardless of previous experiences.
“You can only control the moment that you’re in, so we try to stay focused on our game plan and execution,” Bokker said. “We take that approach into each new game because that’s the bonus of playing different teams. You get a different look and someone’s different best every game, and that’s really exciting.”
The Minutewomen have lost their leading scorer of the 2019 season in then-redshirt senior attackman Kiley Anderson. Anderson had seven goals against Ohio State in the 2019 meeting.
UMass is coming off a 21-8 win against UMass Lowell, following a 15-11 upset loss against then-No. 22 Dartmouth.
One point of emphasis for the Buckeye defense will be to stop UMass senior attackman Kaitlyn Cerasi. Cerasi is the second-highest scorer for UMass and was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week after leading the Minutewomen in their victory against Boston College.
The Buckeyes also need to keep their sights on junior attackman Haley Connaughton, who leads the Minutewomen with 12 goals on the season. Connaughton has scored four goals in each of the team’s first three contests.
In their most recent matchup this past Sunday, the Buckeyes were dealt their second loss of the season 18-7 against No. 2 Notre Dame. Ohio State stayed in the game early on but got buried by the Fighting Irish offense during the second half.
“Notre Dame was a great opponent, and we learned we need to play 60 minutes,” Bokker said. “We felt encouraged and positive coming out of the first half, but the game is 60 minutes, not 30, so we need to keep our energy, stay locked in and focus.”
It was the second loss in three games for Ohio State, which lost to Stony Brook 20-7 on the road Feb. 15.
As the season continues, senior goalie Jill Rizzo said she wants the team to grow together and play more cohesively.
“I’d like to see us all playing together as a unit, having some chemistry and connection between offense and defense,” Rizzo said. “When our defense makes a stop, having support and goals on the offense end and vice versa. When the offense scores, we want to make sure we support them and make stops on defense.”
Bokker said she is confident in the Buckeye seniors to bring leadership and skill into Sunday’s game.
“We rely on our senior class,” Bokker said. “Jill Rizzo has done a great job leading from the back of the goal cage, Kimberly Apuzzo has done a really great job on our defensive end orchestrating our zone and Liza Hernandez does an amazing job on the offensive end by setting the pace, so we’ll continue to look to them on the field.”
The Buckeyes will try to stop history from repeating itself against UMass at noon Sunday.