No. 11 Ohio State takes on struggling Penn State

The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team gathers before the March 22 Ohio State-Dartmouth game. Ohio State won 12-6. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | photo editor

No. 11 Ohio State hosts Penn State Friday night at Ohio Stadium as both teams look to earn their first conference win of the season.

The Buckeyes (6-3, 0-1 Big Ten) are coming off a loss to the No. 4 Rutgers as they lost 18-7 on Sunday in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Nittany Lions (2-7, 0-1 Big Ten) have struggled tremendously this season and are hoping to win in Big Ten play after losing to No. 1 Maryland on Sunday 18-7.

“They’ve definitely proven they can play with anyone in the country and beat some really good teams,” head coach Nick Myers said. “They are very even teams who are going to play hard and play a great game.”

The Buckeyes led the way in their powerful offense with senior forwards Jack Myers, Jackson Reid and Colby Smith. The Buckeyes have the 13th best offense in the nation with an average of 14.22 goals per game.

Jack Myers is sixth in the nation in assists per game with 2.89 per game and also produces 2.33 goals per game.

Smith ranks fifth in the Big Ten in goals per game and leads the team with an average of 2.78 goals. He has several goals in four consecutive games.

Smith said he sees the relationships with his offense as a way to click through and continue his success.

“We kind of know what each other’s tendencies are,” Smith said. “We are gelling very well in attack at the moment which will help us in the next battle.”

The Buckeyes stuck with Rutgers in the first half, scoring the first three goals of the game, but things started to fall apart in the second half.

Rutgers scored seven goals between 1:19 of the second quarter and the end of the third quarter, giving the Scarlet Knights a 12-6 lead at that time.

Ohio State only found the net twice in the second half. Smith led the way with two goals alongside senior forward Scott White, who scored two.

On the other hand, Penn State has struggled this season after losing NCAA all-time leading scorer Mac O’Keefe, who finished his career with 221 goals. Nick Myers said O’Keefe’s absence changed the Buckeyes’ game plan.

“They look a lot more balanced,” Nick Myers said. “Of course Mac was a special player, but I think when you look at them they are very balanced when it comes to scoring.”

Penn State is second to last in the conference in scoring offense, as the team averages 11.89 goals per game. Penn State is also last in goals against per game with 13.44.

The Buckeyes are looking to capitalize on Penn State’s struggles on the faceoff, as the Nittany Lions rank last in the conference in faceoffs – with a winning percentage of just .436. Senior faceoff specialist Justin Inacio is fifth in the nation in faceoff percentage with 119 of 189 faceoffs won.

In goal for Penn State is redshirt junior Aleric Fyock, who ranks 61st in the nation in goals against per game with 13.96.

For the Buckeyes, senior goaltender Skylar Wahlund has been given the nod for graduate transfer Caton Johnson. Wahlund has 34 goals against and 33 saves in two starts and five games overall.

Penn State’s offense comes from senior midfielder Jack Kelly and forward Jack Traynor, who have 29 combined goals.

Nittany Lions freshman forward Will Peden was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after scoring twice in Sunday’s game.

The game will be played at Ohio Stadium on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.

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