Alex Frank | Sports Director
Sometimes looking beyond the final score can assist in understanding the narrative of a game.
That was the case for the Bearcats women’s lacrosse team today against Ohio State where Cincinnati was on the short end of a 16-6 defeat.
The final score could lead one to infer the game was a blow-out.
It certainly did not feel that way watching the entire game unfold.
Cincinnati had their chances offensively – they fired off 28 shots.
For me, that indicates a one or two-goal game. Not a 10-goal game.
“We got to do a better job as a coaching staff of preparing our offense,” head coach Gina Thomas said. “We faced the same goalie, had 17 goals on 29 shots last year and this year we had 28 shots and six goals. So, their goalie stepped up and made 16 saves and that was the big difference, and we just have to do a better job as a coaching staff of getting our kids ready to go and putting the ball in the back of the net.”
Ohio State came out firing early with three goals in less than nine minutes, including two in less than the first three minutes of the game.
Cincinnati responded with goals from two American Athletic Conference preseason all-conference members Sam Mlkvy (junior midfielder) and Monica Borzillo (junior attacker) sandwiched around another Buckeyes goal to cut the deficit in half at 4-2 halfway through the first 30 minutes.
Ohio State, though, would close the first half on a tear, and, combined with their stingy back-line defense, they outscored Cincinnati 6-1 over the final 15 minutes of the first half.
It was a total team effort from Ohio State as four different players scored over the final 15 minutes to help the Buckeyes build a 10-3 lead at halftime.
While it might have appeared that it was Ohio State’s back-line defense preventing Cincinnati from putting the ball in the net, Thomas noted that the Buckeyes were changing defenses throughout the game and that it was Ohio State’s zone defense that gave the Bearcats trouble.
“We were prepared for that,” Thomas said. “We scouted and had some video to know that. We were prepared for their zone. We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.”
Cincinnati got off four more shots in the second half than they did in the first half – 16 in the final 30 minutes compared to 12 in the first half – but they only managed three goals in the second half.
Cincinnati did keep the score within 13-5 in the first third of the second 30 minutes, but the Buckeyes put the game away with three goals in just over three minutes – spanning from 11:40 to 8:33 in the second half.
Despite the lopsided score in terms of goals, Cincinnati did get major contributions from players named to the All-AAC Preseason team.
Mlkvy led the Bearcats with a hat trick (three goals) on five shots, while also winning 11 draw controls.
Borzillo also found the net multiple times as her two goals and assist moved her closer to Cincinnati’s all-time points record.
Borzillo entered this afternoon 20 points shy of Laura Simanski’s (2009-12) school record of 162. Her three assists now have her 17 points away from the program’s top spot.
Cincinnati will be back at Gettler Stadium Sunday to play host to the Kent State Golden Flashes, who will be playing in their first ever NCAA lacrosse match.
“We don’t know what we’re going to face,” Thomas said. “We just have to be the best version of ourselves and play solid defense and put the ball in the back of the net.”
Thomas did note that it was good to have an evaluation of today’s performance against Ohio State to go into and prepare themselves the best they can.
This was only the first game of the season.
Sometimes execution isn’t mastered right away.
There are 16 games left to master it, but at least the Bearcats effort on offense was there today.
That is something they can build upon.