Notre Dame prepares for tough matchup against No. 7 Ohio State
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, March 21, 2019
After posting a winning record on the road in their last three games behind a 10-7 win against No. 13 Denver, a 13-11 loss at No. 9 Virginia and a 12-9 win against Michigan, the No. 11 men’s lacrosse team will return home this weekend for a top-15 matchup with No. 7 Ohio State on Saturday in Arlotta Stadium.
The undefeated Buckeyes (6-0, 0-0 Big Ten) will be the fourth ranked opponent the Irish (4-2, 0-1 ACC) have seen so far this season, and the game will mark their transition into the back half of the season. With the matchup, Notre Dame will look to preserve their perfect record of 2-0 at home, which they achieved behind a season-opening, resolute 19-6 win over Detroit Mercy and a 14-13 overtime thriller victory at the beginning of March over then second-ranked Maryland (now No. 4). The match with the Ohio State will also be the the last out-of-conference game the Irish play before having back-to-back ACC games with Syracuse and Duke.
Coming into the game, both teams have posted incredibly efficient offensive performances. Notre Dame is currently averaging 12.3 goals per game while holding their opponents to an average of 9.5, while for their part Ohio State is averaging 13.83 and 9.3, respectively. The Irish are winning .556 percent of their faceoffs and converting on .357 percent of their man-up opportunities, and the Buckeyes are in similar form with .600 percent faceoff victories and .316 percent success on their power plays. Both teams are shooting similarly as well, with Notre Dame finding the net on .564 percent of their looks and Ohio State on .693 percent of theirs.
As similar-caliber programs, the game should be a gritty matchup, but fortune may favor the Irish as they come into the contest with significantly more competitive experience. In six games, they have seen four teams ranked in the top-15, while the highest-ranked opponent Ohio State has faced has been No. 20 UMass (5-3, 0-0 CAA). Beyond the Minutemen, the Buckeyes have not seen any ranked opponents so far this season, nor have they played any in-conference Big Ten games. Notre Dame is also a slightly deeper team than Ohio State, with 21 players playing in all six of their games compared to the Buckeye’s 18.
Ohio State, however, holds the advantage in points-per-player, as three of their current starters have season point totals over 20. Notre Dame, on the other hand, has no players totaling 20-plus, and their highest individual point possessor is senior midfielder Brendan Gleason, who has recorded 18 on the season behind his 12 goals and six assists.
On the other end of the field, both squads are fairly evenly matched. The Buckeyes have an advantage in their starting goalie’s save percentage, but the man in the same spot for the Irish has been stopping more looks per game. For Ohio State, redshirt sophomore goalie Josh Kirson has stopped .593 percent of the looks opponents have fired his way, while Irish sophomore goalie Matt Schmidt is sitting just about a percent behind Kirson at .476 percent. On the other hand, Schmidt has saved an average of 9.37 shots per game, while his Ohioan counterpart has blocked an average of 8.76 shots per game.
The matchup between No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 7 Ohio State will undoubtedly be a competitive one. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.