Penn State WLAX vs Michigan, Dupcak (2)

Midfielder Samantha Dupcak (2) runs with the ball during Penn State's second women's lacrosse game against Michigan on Sunday, March 21, 2021 at Panzer Stadium in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions beat the Wolverines 13-12.

Against Big Ten cellar dweller Ohio State, Penn State more closely resembled the conference’s last place team.

The Nittany Lions dropped their second game in a row against the Buckeyes, falling 11-9 Sunday afternoon in Columbus.

Early on in the first half, both sides circled the ball in their opposition’s side. However, Ohio State came out aggressive, creating turnovers on defense and hitting the goal post a handful of times.

The Buckeyes utilized Penn State’s turnovers to their advantage, opening the scoring off a turnover as sophomore Ashley Turner collected a goal off a beautiful inside feed from Lindsay Epstein.

Despite going down early, the blue and white responded with three consecutive goals midway into the first half. Senior Sophia Triandafils beat goalie Jillian Rizzo with a spectacular wrap around shortside. Quinn Nicolai and Olivia Dirks followed by increasing its lead to 3-1.

Near the end of the first half, both sides traded goals as Ohio State responded with two goals in just over a minute. Penn State countered back by scoring two goals of its own.

In the dying seconds of the first half, Lindsay Epstein made it a one-goal game by capitalizing on a free position shot.

In the second half, the Buckeyes carried the momentum from the first period, scoring twice in the opening minutes and four more goals shortly after. Penn State mounted a mini comeback to make it a one goal game 9-8, but Ohio State added two more goals to complete the series sweep.

Ohio State’s dominance on the free position

The Buckeyes’ execution when given a free position opportunity was flawless as they scored five goals on 10 opportunities. Senior Lindsay Epstein, who scored two free position goals on the day, showcased great accuracy and power.

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Teammates Sophie Baez, Ashley Turner and Nicole Ferrara all took advantage of the blue and white’s costly penalties by scoring one goal each on the free position.

However, the Nittany Lions’ high amount of penalties is unquestionably a component of their game that needs to be addressed.

Penn State’s resiliency

After being upset last Friday, Penn State was in prime position to win with a 5-3 halftime lead.

However, Penn State came out flat-footed in the second period as it struggled to create offensive opportunities. As the game went on, Ohio State started to find its game and it took a 9-5 lead with 16 minutes left in the contest.

Instead of accepting defeat, Penn State stuck to its game and notched three straight goals to make things interesting.

Mary Muldoon, Kristin O’Neill and Olivia Dirks all rose to the occasion to shrink the Buckeyes’ lead to 9-8 with seven minutes left.

Muldoon would once again cut the Ohio State lead down to a one goal game, but it wouldn’t be enough as Sophie Baez iced the series win for Ohio State.

Turnovers plague both sides

In total, both Penn State and Ohio State combined to make 39 turnovers. The Buckeyes had 24 while the Nittany Lions had 15.

Lisa Hernandez had the highest total for Ohio State with seven giveaways while O’Neill had the largest amount for Penn State with five.

In any sport, maintaining ball possession is critical to victory. While the blue and white did win the turnover battle, it still found itself falling at the hands of the Buckeyes because of their multitude of turnovers.

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