Around The Oval

By Jeremy Birmingham on November 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm
The Buckeye hockey team continues to dominate the CCHA

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.

Welcome back to your Tuesday afternoon update, friends. It's Around The Oval time here at #11W, and it's been another busy week for the student-athletes who don the scarlet and gray.

Last week, we checked in on the white-hot hockey team and the women's soccer team as they tried to make a deep NCAA tournament run, among other things. Both of those squads were in important action again this past week, so we'll once again focus on the ice and the pitch.

buckeyes face that school up north in weekend showdown

In 2010, the Michigan Wolverines hockey club ran through most of their competition on their way to a berth in the NCAA championship game. They would lose a heartbreaking 3-2 decision in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth, but they returned 16 letter winners and were set up to make another deep run through the CCHA and eventually, the NCAAs.

In four meetings with the Wolverines a year ago, Ohio State was able to come away with one win, a 3-2 overtime win in the first match-up, before losing the next three to the hated Maize and Blue. As this new season has begun to unfold, this past weekend's twinbill began to take on some significance for both teams and not just for their spot in the CCHA standings. Michigan, ranked #7 nationally, had an opportunity to put an end to the #14 Buckeyes seven game unbeaten streak, and to make sure the upstart Buckeyes didn't start to get too big for their britches. The Buckeyes, for their part, would get another go-round with a highly ranked national opponent on the road, their first such opportunity since a two game split with Notre Dame in mid-October.

Ohio State at Michigan Playing at the Yost Ice Arena is never an easy task, and the Buckeyes were greeted by a crowd of 6600 plus as they made their way into the famed arena. The first period saw both teams feeling out the other, with neither squad able to find much of rhythm offensively. Finally, at the 15:26 mark of the first, Michigan's Mac Bennett was able to get a one-timer past Ohio State's Cal Heeter to give UM a one goal advantage. That lead would not last long.

Two minutes and sixteen seconds later, Darik Angeli beat Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick for his fourth goal of the year, and evened the score at 1-1, a score that would hold as the teams made their way to the locker rooms for intermission. Neither team would break the tie in the second period, despite 27 shots on goal, including 15 of them by Ohio State. Power-play opportunities for both teams (two for each squad) proved to be ineffectual, as both goaltenders were excellent, keeping their teams in the game.

The third period saw two more unsuccessful power-play chances for Michigan, but the Buckeye defense stifled the Wolverines, only allowing one shot on the two chances. With the score still knotted up at 1-1, Ohio State freshman Al McLean prevented a clearing attempt by the Wolverines, and found Angeli who was able to get a ricocheting goal off of Hunwick, putting the Buckeyes up 2-1 with 12 minutes to play. Ohio State held firm, killing the last of the Michigan PP opportunities with five minutes left in the game, and withstanding an empty-net last minute rush, to pull out the 2-1 win in the series opener. Heeter stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced to improve to 8-1-1 on the year in net.

Game two on Saturday night in Ann Arbor would have a much different feel than the opener.

Ohio State once again found themselves down a goal in the first period, as Michigan's Mike Chiasson put the Maize and Blue on top quickly, scoring his first goal of the season against Heeter only 2:56 into the first period action. As they have all year, the Buckeyes fought back - and did so quickly. Alex Lippincott and Chris Crane each scored first period goals, their 2nd and 7th respectively, and Ohio State took a 2-1 lead into the break.

The second period was as exciting as the first, and saw a redux of game one's penalty parade. After UM's Luke Moffat tied the game at 2-2 at 1:54 of the second period, Ohio State took advantage of a number of Wolverine penalties, with freshman forward Ryan Dzingel leading the charge. Dzingel scored two power-play goals a mere 16 seconds apart at 8:16 and 8:34 of the second period, and Ohio State held a 4-2 lead. The Wolverines kept fight, cutting their deficit in half three and a half minutes later on their own power-play goal. Now 4-3, the Buckeyes struck again, this time in five-on-five hockey, as Max McCormick found the net for his second goal of the season. A frenetic second stanza came to an end and Ohio State took a 5-3 lead into the final frame.

The third started as the second ended, with fast paced, penalty riddled hockey. With Ohio State on the power-play, Michigan's Derek Deblois blasted a howitzer past Heeter on a short-handed breakaway goal at 1:46, and UM appeared to have turned the momentum back in their direction as the last period got underway. As they have all year long, Ohio State bounced back quickly, and once again it was Lippincott who was able to silence the UM faithful, sliding one past Hunwick at 4:48 of the third, once again extending the Buckeye to lead to two goals, 6-4. Michigan would persist, drawing to within 1 with less than two minutes to go, but as they did on Friday night, the Buckeyes found a way to escape with the one goal victory, sweeping the Wolverines, 6-5. The Buckeyes swept Michigan in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1986.

Ohio State's Mark Osiecki:

“We talk about growth for our team. Coming in with a young group, we ask our guys to take the next step and continue to improve, build on what we’ve been doing. The guys are really worried about themselves, not the other team, and continue to get better.”

There is little doubt that the Buckeyes, now unbeaten in their last nine games, are improving. Ohio State has outscored their opponents 35-12 in the nine game unbeaten streak, and before the five goals they allowed in Saturday's game, had granted their opponents only 6 goals in the previous six games. At 10-3-1-1 overall, and 7-3-1-1 in the CCHA, Ohio State finds themselves alone at the top of the standings heading into a week off. Following the holiday break, the Buckeyes will head home for two games against Lake Superior State and one against the Miami Redhawks.

For their efforts against UM, Lippincott and Dzingel were named the CCHA Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively. Ohio State jumped from 14th in the national polls to #9 following the two big road wins.

women's soccer fights for their right to party

At 10-8-2, when the Ohio State women's soccer team received their at-large invitation to the NCAA tournament, there were not many who thought that invitation would be for admission to multiple venues. The Buckeyes faced a top 25 team (Tennessee) on their home turf and that would be the end for them. The Buckeyes, however, had other ideas, and upset the Volunteers last week 3-0, setting up a date with the 15th ranked University of Milwaukee Panthers who, at 19-2, had already established a school best for wins and had advanced to their first ever NCAA tournament. This match-up would not be a road game, for the Buckeyes, but rather it would be played in Durham, North Carolina, on the campus of Duke University. The winner would advance to the Sweet Sixteen, and a chance at #3 ranked Duke.

The game started quietly, at least on the scoreboard. Ohio State was aggressive in a first half that saw them take 11 shots, forcing Panthers' goaltender Jamie Forbes to make four first half saves. Ohio State's offense kept the pressure off of Katie Baumgardner and their defense, allowing only 2 shots in the first half. Despite the offensive energy, the first 45 minutes ended with no score.

Milwaukee couldn't stop Ohio State, but Duke could.

In the second half, both teams cranked up the pace, Ohio State once again putting double digit shots towards the net, and Milwaukee returned in kind, finally forcing the Buckeye defense to play back on their heels. Still knotted up at 0-0, Ohio State's Paige Maxwell took a pass from Danica Wu and drove a shot past Forbes from 20 yards out to give the Buckeyes the first advantage of the game at 67:45. Fifteen minutes later, Caitlyn Martin put the Buckeyes in the driver's seat 2-0 with an assist from Tiffany Cameron. Milwaukee would claw their way for a goal at 89:45, but it would not be enough, as the Buckeyes beat the Panthers 2-1, to advance to the Sweet 16.

The Buckeyes made important half-time adjustments to try and help their cause against Milwaukee's Forbes, according to head coach Lori Walker.

"At halftime we talked about how we were going with one or two players in the attack and that we needed to really have a commitment of five players .We drew that up and looked at it and a lot of it was needing to come from shooting balls wider and having more width in the attack. We were coming down central, taking too many shots from outside areas, and Milwaukee has an excellent goalkeeper so those weren't going to be particularly dangerous for her. Attacking from wider positions was much more dynamic for us in the second half."

After dispatching the Panthers, the Buckeyes would face Duke, hoping to secure the team's first ever spot in the Elite 8. The Blue Devils, 4-0 all-time against Ohio State, entered the game 19-3-1 and ranked #3 nationally. The home team got a bit more than they expected from the upstart Buckeyes right off the bat.

Coach Walker's team struggled to gain any offensive momentum, but were able to fight off the Blue Devils, and despite only getting two shots in the first half, the Buckeyes led the Blue Devils 1-0 at the break. Paige Maxwell once again came through for Ohio State, beating Duke goaltender Tara Campbell to the shortside of the net at the 28 minute mark.

The second half once more saw a steady stream of pressure from the Blue Devils, as they swarmed the Buckeyes on both sides of the pitch. 12 shots, including 10 on Baumgardner were more than the Buckeyes could handle, and when the smoke cleared from the assault on goal, Duke had eradicated the deficit and stood on top with a 2-1 lead with less than ten minutes left on the clock. Baumgardner's eight saves gave the Buckeyes a chance, but they were unable to create a single shot opportunity in a second half that was dominated by Duke.

The Buckeyes season ended with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Dukies. The senior class leaves Ohio State with 51 victories, which is tied for the most in school history.

buckeye bits

The Ohio State men's cross country team finished 23rd in the NCAA championships, the 11th time in school history they have finished in the top 25 nationally. Wisconsin took home the national championship.

The Buckeye wrestlers continued their hot start to the season, as they knocked off #15 Virginia Tech 21-12 on Sunday. The Buckeyes, ranked tenth in the country, were led by three freshman who helped secure the win. Logan Stieber (133), Hunter Stieber (141) and Cam Tessari (149) all came out victorious in a tightly contested match. Ohio State will take a week off before traveling to Las Vegas for the 30th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

After being swept 3-0 by Purdue for their fourth straight loss, #25 Ohio State's women's volleyball team welcomed a chance to play Indiana, who entered the contest 1-16 in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers were just what the Buckeyes needed, as Mari Hole and Kaitlyn Leary led Ohio State to a 3-0  (25-7, 25-18, 25-19). The Buckeyes will finish up their regular season play this week, hosting Penn State Wednesday and traveling to Ann Arbor for the season finale on Friday. The Buckeyes are now 18-13 overall, and 8-10 in Big Ten conference play.

The women's hockey team improved to 7-4-1 overall, sweeping two games against Syracuse in New York this past weekend. Laura McIntosh had two goals and two assists on the weekend.

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