Ohio State operates the NCAA's second-largest athletic department. Eleven Warriors is committed to keeping you informed of what's happening with those sports that make Ohio State athletics more than just football and basketball. Around the Oval will be your weekly update on these teams.
Another week has passed, and here we are once again Around the Oval, talking Buckeye sports and enjoying the fact that the Scarlet and Gray are everywhere you look. Hockey, tennis, golf, soccer, volleyball, cross-country, field hockey, oh my - we could literally fill byte upon byte of server space talking about all of them. Instead, let's just talk a bit about a few, eh?
buckeyes battle fighting irish to series split
A week after their season opening series split at home against the Quinnipiac Bobcats, the Ohio State men's hockey team went on the road to beautiful South Bend, Indiana to skate against the #2 ranked Notre Dame hockey club this past weekend.
In their CCHA conference opener, the Buckeyes quickly got out to a 1-0 lead, as senior Danny Dries scored his first goal of the year a minute into the game on an assist from freshman AJ McLean, who was making his collegiate debut. The Buckeyes would stretch the lead to 2-0 ten minutes later as Dries found the net once again, this time with a helper from sophomore Curtis Gedig. Now up two goals, the Buckeyes offense went dormant, and the Irish got back to Fightin'.
Notre Dame's Austin Wuthrich got the Irish on the board at 17:35 of the first period, and the teams entered the first intermission at 2-1, Buckeyes. Both teams registered seven shots on goal, but it was clear that momentum was shifting away from Ohio State, and big 'mo continued to trend Notre Dame's direction throughout the second period, as they peppered OSU goalie Brady Hjelle with 16 shots before the Irish evened up the game at 2-2 on a 5-on-3 power-play goal with four minutes left in the second. Ohio State put nine shots on ND's Mike Johnson during the period to no avail, and the Buckeyes and Irish were knotted up at two heading into the final period.
As the third got underway, Notre Dame didn't let up and the Buckeyes were unable to stop the onslaught, finally succumbing to the pressure of the Irish attack and relinquishing the lead for good, four minutes into the final stanza. With the Irish now up 3-2, the Buckeye offense could not mount any serious attack, and Hjelle, making his first start for Ohio State, remained under heavy fire to the tune of 12 more shots against him in the third period. When the final horn blew, Notre Dame had taken the first game of the two-game series, 5-2. For the game, the Irish outshot Ohio State 35-22, and more importantly, the Irish had six power-play opportunities to Ohio State's two.
Game two on Saturday was a historic slate, as Notre Dame's 43 year-old Joyce Center hosted its final game, and the Buckeyes made the most of their Saturday night.
Led by freshman Max McCormick who scored his first goal of the season and assisted on two others, and another freshman, Ryan Dzingel, who notched his third goal on the young season 11 minutes in to the second period, the Buckeyes held what looked to be an insurmountable 4-0 lead. However, as they did in the series opening match-up, the Irish stormed back. Ohio State's Cal Heeter stone-walled Notre Dame for the first two periods, but as the Irish cranked up the heat, Cal melted a bit, but fortunately not enough for the Irish to complete the comeback, and the clock hit 00:00 with the Buckeyes clinging to a 4-3 victory, and a series split against Notre Dame.
For his efforts on the weekend, McCormick was named the CCHA Gongshow Rookie of the Week, the first Buckeye to earn CCHA honors this season.
Ohio State will stay on the road as they continue CCHA action this upcoming Thursday and Friday, traveling to East Lansing for a two game set with Michigan State.
Blaz continues to rola
Sophomore Blaz Rola continued his hot start to the men's tennis season, leading the Buckeyes to an impressive outing this past weekend during the 2011 USTA/ITA Division I Men’s Midwest Regional Championship. Rola, the #1 overall handled Michigan's best, Evan King, in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to win his second consecutive regional title on his way to the national tournament. In winning his second regional title, Rola becomes the first Buckeye tennis player to ever win that title in back-to-back years, and the fifth Buckeye in the past six seasons to win the region.
Rola did not escape the day unscathed, but some losses are easier to deal with than others, especially when that loss is to teammates. Rola and Connor Smith, a junior; ranked first amongst the doubles teams, were upset by #2 ranked and Buckeyes teammates, Peter Kobelt and Chase Buchanan 8-3 in the doubles final.
Up next for the Buckeyes tennis is the 2011 Big Ten Indoor Tennis Championships in Iowa, but it will be a split-squad, as some of the Bucks will head to Virginia for a USTA Challenger event.
Valparaiso can't light the lamp(son)
There are many reasons that soccer gets a bum rap throughout the US, and the biggest among them is the lack of offensive firepower. This past Sunday, in Columbus, the Buckeyes and Valparaiso did little to change the dissenters mind, but to the purist, they played a wonderful match of futbol.
Buckeye goalie Matt Lampson earned his third shut-out of the season, stopping five shots on net. Lampson had some big saves, including four in the first half, and a game-saver on a header from the goal box area in the 97th minute. The Buckeyes were led by Kenny Cunningham, playing in his first match in over a month, who put two shots on goal, but they too failed to finalize on any of their offensive opportunities, and the game ended after 120 excruciating minutes at zilch-to-zip.
Ohio State now sits at 7-5-2, and will get back to conference play this upcoming Sunday against Penn State in Columbus.
hoosier state of mind
I don't pretend to know much about the landscape of woman's volleyball throughout the NCAA, but I would be surprised if there were many teams who have played a more daunting schedule than the Buckeye girls have this season.
Six B1G teams, including the Buckeyes, currently reside in the top 25 rankings according to the AVCA, including the top-ranked and undefeated Illinois team, and the 4th ranked Cornhuskers of Nebraska. Aside from those two, each of whom has knocked off the Buckeyes this year, the Buckeyes (14-7) have five more losses: #8 Hawaii, #6 UCLA, Long Beach State (ranked #23 at the time of the contest), unranked Wisconsin and their latest loss, on the road against #11 Purdue.
The Buckeyes traveled to Indiana Friday night, before heading to West Lafayette to play Purdue on Saturday. A Hoosier state weekend, is there anywhere else you'd rather be?
If you've taken the time to read on AtO about women's volleyball this year, then it will come as no surprise to you that once again the Buckeyes were led by Emily Danks and Mari Hole on their way to finishing off Indiana in four sets on Friday, 3-1(25-16, 23-25, 25-12, 26-24). Danks posted a career-high 26.5 match points and Hole contributed 16 of her own, including 16 kills.
The Buckeyes fates swung on Saturday, as they ran into an overpowering Boilermakers team that buzzed through the Buckeyes, 3-1 (25-16, 18-25, 25-16, 25-20). Hole paced the Buckeyes with 16.5 match points, but Purdue was too much for the Buckeyes to handle.
Ohio State will once again be on the road as they travel to Happy Valley to take on Penn State Thursday evening before returning home Columbus for two big games against Nebraska and Michigan State.
That will wrap up this week's version of Around the Oval, see you next time, Buckeye fans. Me love you long time.