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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Well-rounded Irish look to defend their undefeated record against Ohio State

| Thursday, February 21, 2019

Two undefeated squads will face off early in the season this week, as the No. 20 Irish head to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the Buckeyes.

Notre Dame (3-0) and Ohio State (3-0) are both undefeated on the year, as the Irish have taken down Marquette, Canisius and Liberty, and the Buckeyes have defeated Cincinnati, Detroit Mercy and Brown, with their final win coming in overtime. The Irish have defeated their opponents by a margin of 54-18 so far, a 36-goal differential, while the Buckeyes have given up 25 goals to their opponents, defeating them by a 25-goal margin over the course of the first three games.

The Buckeyes are led offensively by junior midfielder Liza Hernandez, who has 19 points and 13 goals on the season, leading the Buckeyes in both categories. Hernandez currently sits at fifth in the country in goals, with 13 scored, and Irish senior attack Samantha Lynch is atop the leaderboard, leading the nation with 15 goals scored this year in three games. Lynch is returning from missing her junior year due to injury and has made her presence known immediately.

Observer File Photo

Irish sophomore midfielder Andie Aldave prepares to pass the ball during Notre Dame’s 15-10 win over Marquette on Feb. 28 at Arlotta Stadium.

The Buckeyes’ Baley Parrott, a senior midfielder, also sits at a tie for 13th in the nation for goals scored with 10.

One of the biggest challenges for the Irish will be scoring on the Buckeyes, as junior goalie Jill Rizzo is one of the top keepers in the country at the moment. She is sitting at ninth in save percentage, at 0.600 with 33 saves. Rizzo led the Big Ten in ground balls and ground balls per game last season, and finished the year at eighth in the country in saves with 187.

The Irish sit near the top of the national leaderboards in a variety of categories. Junior attack Jessi Masinko is second in the nation in assists with nine, and senior goalkeeper Samantha Giacolone is fifth in the goals against category, giving up just an average of 4.97 goals. The Irish also sit at fifth in points scored per game as a unit, while the Buckeyes are in 15th position.

The Irish draw-control unit is also one of the top in the country, between draw control specialists sophomore midfielder Andie Aldave and junior midfielder Savannah Buchanan, who are in 23rd and 26th place in the nation in draw controls, respectively. Notre Dame is the sixth-best draw-control squad in the country, with a 0.684 percentage.

The last time the Irish and the Buckeyes faced off was in 2017, when Ohio State came to Arlotta Stadium and Notre Dame came out ahead, 16-13. In that game, now-senior attack Nikki Ortega and Buchanan each picked up a hat trick, while Lynch scored twice. Giacolone picked up the win with the full 60 minutes in goal, nabbing five saves.

Once the Irish face off against the Buckeyes at 3 p.m. on Friday, they will head home to host Kent State on Sunday.

The Golden Flashes (0-2) are winless so far this season, dropping games to Cincinnati and Robert Morris. They will take on Butler on Friday before facing off against the Irish.

Kent State is led by a young corps this season. Freshman midfielder Abby Jones has been a bright spot for Kent State in its first two games, tallying six goals and seven points on a 0.545 shooting percentage. Freshman goalkeeper Grace Merrill has also played all 120 minutes for the Golden Flashes so far this year, picking up 33 saves in her team’s two losses, with a 0.524 save percentage. Merrill has allowed 30 goals on the season. She also leads the team in ground balls, with 11.

The freshman success continues with freshman midfielder Madison Rapier, who leads the squad in draw controls, with seven on the season.

The Irish will face off against Kent State on Sunday in Loftus Sports Center at 1 p.m. after they take on Ohio State on the road Friday at 3 p.m.

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