The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team won their season opener against Vermont 13-9, led by a second half surge by freshman midfielder Liza Hernandez, who scored three goals and picked up an assist. The win moved OSU to 1-0 and dropped Vermont to 0-2.
In the first matchup between the Buckeyes and the Catamounts in the history of the program, Hernandez was able to spark a stagnant second half OSU team to claim a victory.
Both teams went on extended goal streaks — the Buckeyes closed out the first half with seven straight goals giving them a 9-4 lead at the break, while Vermont began the second half with four consecutive goals narrowing OSU’s lead to just one. OSU would then come back with four successive scores, ending Vermont’s hopes for a comeback.
“I thought we showed resiliency,” coach Alexis Venechanos said. “This game was a game of runs, we had a good nice run that first half and in the second half we couldn’t buy a goal. But I’m glad we stepped up and converted when we needed to.”
The scoring was initially broken open by Buckeye midfielder Bailey Parrott when her free position shot found the back of the net, her first of two. Vermont was able to respond with a goal of their own by midfielder Molly Little before OSU’s senior midfielder Morgan Fee added another, putting them up 2-1.
Vermont would then go on to score twice within the next three minutes off of unassisted goals from senior midfielder Brynne Yarranton — her first of two — and junior attack Becca Olsen giving them a 3-2 lead over the Buckeyes.
From that point OSU would begin to fill up the net and take an overwhelming 9-3 lead with second goals from Fee and Parrott, along with goals from Hernandez, two from junior attack Molly Wood, one from freshman attack Alex Vander Molen and a final first half goal from sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Maring.
During the first half, OSU was able to force nine Vermont turnovers, allowing them to dominate the ball throughout. Little was able to tally on one more goal for the Catamounts, dropping the Buckeyes’ lead to five and sending them into the halftime break up 9-4.
Vermont come out firing in the second half, striking twice early. The first on a free position goal from attacker Meredith Moore and the second coming from attacker Elena McWright, cutting OSU’s lead to just three.
The Buckeyes continued to struggle late into the second half, giving up another two free position goals to Vermont’s Yarrington and midfielder Courtney Cole. OSU’s lead would be nearly completely erased, leading 9-8 with 12:42 minutes remaining in the game.
OSU’s offense was nonexistent in the early parts of the second half, turning the ball over nine times — one less than the 10 shots they took during that time.
“I think we lost our way for a little bit there,” Wood said. “But I was so happy with the mental toughness we showed all over the field to not let their run scare us at all.”
And with 11:22 left in the game the flood gates were reopened for the Buckeyes. Hernandez would add her second and third goals of the game within 30 seconds of one another, stretching OSU’s lead back to three and energizing her side for the remainder of the game.
“I knew something had to change,” Hernandez said. “I knew we had to pick up the momentum. So Coach [Venechanos] drew up a play and I told myself, ‘This is it, you need to change the game around and really push it,’ so I did.”
Maring and senior defender Shannon Rosati would go on to add their first goals of the season, giving OSU a commanding 13-8 lead with just 4:31 remaining. The Catamounts tried to fight back when Moore scored her second goal with 2:31 left in the game, but the Buckeyes proved to be too much, holding on to win 13-9.
In a game where freshmen accounted for four goals and freshman goalie Jill Rizzo was able to get seven saves in a win, Hernandez proved to be the catalyst that OSU needed to get back on track.
“[Hernandez] has been doing a great job for us in the preseason and this game we thought she had a good matchup,” Venechanos said. “We wanted to keep putting the ball in her hands, she makes good decisions. […] Liza did great, great first game and we’re going to need a lot more of that.”
The Buckeyes will be headed to Florida to take on Jacksonville University in their next contest. The game is set for a 1 p.m. face off on Sunday.