March 28, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 14-ranked Ohio State women’s lacrosse team will take on Hofstra and No. 1 Northwestern this week. The Buckeyes travel to Hempstead, N.Y., to face the Pride at 4 p.m Thursday before continuing on to Foxborough, Mass., for a neutral site contest vs. the undefeated Wildcats in Gillette Stadium at 3 p.m. Saturday. The latter is part of a doubleheader with No. 2 Syracuse and Harvard, who will take the field at noon. Tickets for the first women’s lacrosse event at Gillette Stadium, home of the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at the gate the day of the game.
IN A NUTSHELL
After starting the season 5-0, the Buckeyes now are 7-2 on the season following just its second game of the year to No. 5 Florida last weekend. They are led by Alayna Markwordt, a candidate for the 2012 Tewaaraton Trophy, with 20 goals and 22 assists for 50 points, the second-highest total in the NCAA this season. Jackie Cifarelli, a Rockville Center, N.Y., product who will make her return to Long Island for the Hofstra game, is second in scoring with 19 goals and 18 assists, while Gabby Capuzzi comes in third with 32 points off 24 goals and eight assists. Capuzzi also leads the team in draw controls (32), caused turnovers (23) and groundballs (23). Freshman goalie Tori DeScenza has made eight of nine starts and has an 8.30 goals-against average and .487 save percentage.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Hofstra: The Pride is 2-7 on the season after dropping each of its last five games, including two last week to Denver (8-5) Friday and California (15-11) Sunday. Jill Maier and Maryann Miller are tied for the team lead in scoring with 15 points this season with Maier holding 14 goals and one assist and Miller tallying 10 goals and five assists. Series history: This is the first meeting between Ohio State and Hofstra.
Northwestern: The Wildcats are undefeated through nine games, including five victories over Top 20 opponents. Shannon Smith is leading the scoring charge with 32 goals and 11 assists for the NU scoring offense which is second in the ALC and fourth in the nation. As a team, the Wildcats average 16 goals per game, while allowing a national-low 6.33 per game. Brianne LoManto leads the NCAA with a 5.7 goals-against average and is ninth in save percentage at .511. Series history: Northwestern holds an 8-2 advantage in the all-time series, winning each of the last eight meetings. Ohio State last defeated the Wildcats during the 2002 and 2003 seasons.
Ohio State head coach Alexis Venechanos and assistant coach Christy Finch each have ties to the Northwestern program. Venechanos served as an assistant coach to Kelly Amonte Hiller for three seasons (2004-06), helping the Wildcats to their first two of five-consecutive NCAA championships before departing to take the reins at UMass.
Playing for Venechanos her first two seasons, Finch was a four-time national champion with the Wildcats (2005-08) and was named the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Defensive Player of the Year and an All-America selection in 2007 and 2008. As a senior, Finch led the nation in caused turnovers with 70 and was honored as a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist, Defender of the Year by Inside Lacrosse, Womenslacrosse.com and WomensLax.com.
Gillette Stadium will be a familiar venue for assistant coach Amanda Belichick, daughter of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Prior to leading coaching in various roles in the NFL since 1975, the Belichick patriarch played lacrosse at Wesleyan in the early 1970s.
In addition to the official website of Ohio State athletics, OhioStateBuckeyes.com, the women’s lacrosse team can be followed through social media outlets Facebook (facebook.com/ohiostatewomenslacrosse) and Twitter (twitter.com/OhioState_WLAX).
LAST TIME OUT
Kirsten Donahue tied her season high with four goals, including three in the second half, but the 12th-ranked Buckeyes dropped a 10-8 decision to fifth-ranked Florida March 24 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The loss was just the second for the Buckeyes this season, both to ranked opponents, as they drop to 7-2 overall and 0-1 in the ALC. Florida improves to 10-2 on the season and 1-0 in the conference. Jackie Cifarelli also had a four-point game, tallying two goals and two assists, while Tori DeScenza made nine saves in goal to limit the Gators to their second-lowest scoring output of the season.
The Buckeyes will continue the three-game road swing at ALC foe Vanderbilt by facing the 12th-ranked Commodores at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 8 in the Vanderbilt Lacrosse Complex. Vandy is 5-3 on the season and 0-2 in the conference with game scheduled against New Hampshire (March 28), Johns Hopkins (April 1) and Presbyterian (April 4) before hosting Ohio State.