The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team is set to kick off its 2016 season on Feb. 13 against Detroit, with a scheduled 3:30 p.m. start time at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“Traditionally, Detroit is a very skilled and fast team, so hopefully with these next two weeks of preparation we will get some of our jitters out,” OSU coach Alexis Venechanos said. “Our girls are really hungry and excited for the new opportunity to be playing at home, so I think we’ll be ready.”
Senior midfielder Christine Easton said her coach is focusing mainly on team communication going into the 2016 campaign.
“We’re a pretty young team, so getting to know everyone on and off the field is important,” Easton said. “We want to improve our weaknesses and exploit the strengths we have on the field.”
A win on Saturday could give the Buckeyes the confidence and motivation to continue their success into Big Ten play and reaffirm their belief that they belong with the top lacrosse teams in the country.
The Buckeyes, ranked No. 18 in both the Lacrosse Magazine and Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association preseason polls, were picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten, which has become arguably the toughest women’s lacrosse conference in the country.
After an overall 2015 record of 13-8 and a first-round NCAA tournament exit against Notre Dame, Easton said the Buckeyes are motivated to hurdle some obstacles this season.
“My big goal is for the team to win an NCAA tournament game, because we’ve gotten to the first round four times and have never been able to win one,” Easton said. “Another one is to win the Big Ten, because it would be important for our program to win some big games and get our name out there.”
Venechanos, in her sixth year with the Buckeyes, said she’s excited to see how competitive her team gets in season play, as they are self-driven and determined.
“We haven’t really talked about rankings, and we’re really excited to have a strong out of conference schedule,” Venechanos said. “Last year we were picked to finish No. 4 and we finished in the championship game, so hopefully these experiences will help prepare us for tournament time.”
Attackman Rainey Hodgson said while the team has a big picture in mind for the season, the players are working hard to keep their mind on what has to be done immediately.
“We’re focusing on a lot of aspects of our game, but we’re mostly looking to find our niche,” the senior said. “This game will be a little preview as to what the season will be, so we’re looking to go out and make a statement.”
Big Ten players to watch
Senior attackmen Cian Dabrowski and Hodgson, as well as Easton, represented the Buckeyes on the 2016 Big Ten players to watch list, making up three of 18 players honored.
Dabrowski enters her senior season with team-high 69 goals and 25 assists in her career.
Hodgson, who started 15 of 21 games last season, has 35 career goals with 19 assists heading into her senior season.
Easton has 44 career starts heading into her senior season, the most on the active roster.
After the home opener against the Titans on Saturday, the Buckeyes will prepare to fly to Berkeley, California, to face California on Feb. 19 to continue their out-of-conference schedule. The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.