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Women’s lacrosse: Ohio State looking to right the ship against perennial powerhouse Northwestern

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Ohio State freshman midfielder Sage Darling receives a pass in the offensive zone against Rutgers on March 25. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team (6-8) have not had the easiest path to get where it is at this point in the season, and it is not going to get any easier. The Buckeyes have three games remaining against three of the best teams in the country: No. 17 Northwestern, No. 1 Maryland and Johns Hopkins, who sits just outside the 20th spot in the Inside Lacrosse Poll.

While OSU began to get its offense back on track against No. 6 Penn State — scoring 12 goals for the first time since March 7 — they will need to summon even more production in the remainder of their games.

“I thought we had some good chemistry on the attack,” coach Alexis Venechanos said of the team’s loss to the Nittany Lions. “I thought we limited our turnovers in the midfield, and when you’re playing these conference games, those little details are going to matter.”

Northwestern has, historically, been dominant against the Buckeyes, winning 13 of the 16 previous matchups, with OSU’s most recent win coming in a 2014 overtime game. Venechanos spent three years on the Wildcats’ staff (2004 to 2006) as an assistant, so it means a lot to her for them to be one of the big rivals in their conference.

“It was a great learning experience. I learned a lot on the field and off the field,” Venechanos said. “(Northwestern coach Kelly Amonte Hiller) is a great competitor. She taught me how to compete, and I’m glad we have an opportunity to play them every year.”

Hiller has led the Wildcats to seven NCAA championships, with last season being the first year that they had not reached at least the NCAA quarterfinals in 14 years. While Northwestern’s record at first glance is similar to the Buckeyes at 6-6, the Wildcats’ schedule has been stacked with great competition.

The Buckeyes will still be without freshman midfielder Liza Hernandez, but they can still be capable of generating offense. Junior attacker Molly Wood and sophomore midfielder Baley Parrott have both stepped up to lead their team in scoring.

“We’re working on ourselves right now,” Wood said. “We’re working on the little things, the fundamentals and to see those getting better is huge for our team.”

OSU will be looking to continue its development as the season winds down, but Venechanos said they are most excited for the present.

“We’ve challenged our players to get a little bit better from the previous week, the previous day and even in the drill we are doing — let’s get better this time,” Venechanos said. “We’re moving some people around, they’re stepping up.”

The game is set for a 7 p.m. start time on Thursday, in what will be OSU’s first game of the season at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

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