Irish face Buckeyes in top-15 battle
Manuel De Jesus | Friday, March 20, 2015
After splitting a pair of games against No. 6 Denver and No. 8 Virginia last week on the road, No. 3 Notre Dame will return home to host No. 15 Ohio State on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.
The Irish (4-1, 1-0 ACC) have a long history playing against the Buckeyes (7-2, 0-0 Big 10), going as far back as the 1981 season when Notre Dame became a varsity program. Saturday will be the 40th time the Irish will play the Buckeyes, with the Irish leading the series 30-9.
Notre Dame has won 12 straight meetings against Ohio State, including last season’s 13-7 win in Columbus, Ohio. The last time these two teams matched up, junior attack Matt Kavanagh tied the single-game school record for goals in a game with seven scores. In that contest, the Irish were scoreless in the first quarter before erupting for five straight goals in the second quarter. Notre Dame features a very similar squad this season, but sitting at 7-2, Ohio State enters the game riding a three-game win streak.
Led by senior midfielder Jesse King, who has compiled 21 goals and 14 assists, the Buckeyes recently surprised No. 6 Denver with a 13-11 upset in Columbus. Notre Dame’s sole loss on the year came against the Pioneers, 11-10 in overtime. The two teams share another common opponent this season: Dartmouth. Both Notre Dame and Ohio State defeated the Green Wave, 20-5 and 15-5 respectively.
Ohio State also ranks as one of the best defensive teams in the country. The squad allows 7.22 goals per game, good for fourth in the nation. Notre Dame is sixth in the NCAA in scoring, averaging 14.4 goals per game.
“I think their offense definitely contributes to how good they are defensively,” Irish junior midfielder Kyle Trolley said. “We’ve been watching film on them all week, and when they took the lead against Denver last week in the last nine minutes of the game, Denver did not get a sniff. Ohio State was really patient and selective with what they were doing offensively. So that offensive skill and confidence that their guys play with definitely helps with the defensive side of the ball.”
Last week, Notre Dame was challenged by two top-10 opponents, winning against Virginia and losing to Denver. In its first ACC contest against the Cavaliers, Notre Dame held them scoreless for more than 22 minutes while scoring the first seven goals of the contest en route to an 11-9 win. The Irish’s offensive and defensive prowess in the game would eventually help earn two of their players ACC honors that week.
Freshman attack Mikey Wynne earned ACC offensive player of the week. Against Virginia, Wynne scored five goals to add to his team-leading 19 tallies. He is also second on the team in total points and first in percentage of shots converted while ranking third in the nation with 3.8 goals per game.
On the other side of the ball, junior defenseman Matt Landis was named ACC defensive player of the week. Notre Dame’s defense held the Cavaliers to a season-low nine goals.
“Team success is definitely more important than personal success, but seeing two guys get something like that out of like 350 guys that play lacrosse in the ACC [was great],” Trolley said. “Landis is a junior so we know what he’s capable of and what he’s been doing for us, but Mikey Wynne, it’s pretty cool for him to get it as a freshman. He’s been tearing it up for us. He scored like six goals in his first game, so he’s been putting it in the back of the net for us from the start.”
The Irish will look to continue their recent offensive output against Ohio State’s defense as the two will face off for the 40th time Saturday at Arlotta Stadium at 4 p.m.