COLUMBUS, Ohio – Down 1-0 in the final minutes of regulation, the seventh-ranked Ohio State field hockey team rallied to defeat No. 15 Albany, 2-1, Saturday afternoon in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Penn State’s Field Hockey Complex in State College, Pa. Freshman Paula Pastor-Pitarque scored both goals for the Buckeyes, tallying the first score with less than two minutes remaining in regulation and followed with the gamewinner in overtime.
Ohio State (17-4, 5-1 Big Ten) will now play No. 4-Seed Syracuse at 2 p.m. Sunday with the winner advancing to the Final Four Nov. 19-21 in College Park, Md. The victory over the Great Danes ties the Ohio State single-season wins record with 17 first set during the 1976 campaign. The 17 wins are the most for a Buckeye squad under 15th-year head coachAnne Wilkinson.
“This team worked so hard for this win,” Wilkinson said. “With the pressure on we were able to execute with composure. Paula really stepped up not just finishing on offense but running 85 yards in overtime to make a goal line save to keep us alive and moving on to the next round.”
The Buckeyes are now 2-5 all-time in NCAA tournament games. The second round game vs. the Orange will be the second time in program history Ohio State has advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals first doing so during the 2006 campaign.
The first 35 minutes of play went scoreless until the Great Danes went ahead, 1-0, off a penalty corner to close the first half. Daphne Voormolen scored her 11th goal of the season with assists coming from Christina Patrick and Suzy Clephane at 35:00 on Albany’s second penalty corner.
Ohio State outshot Albany, 10-3, in the first half and had a 4-2 lead on penalty corners. Junior back Jenn Sciulli made a defensive save in the first half for her seventh of the season, which leads the Big Ten.
In the second half, the Buckeyes continued to push the ball offensively but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard until the final minutes of the game. With 1:30 remaining, Pastor-Pitarque answered for Ohio State with a shot from the right side of the circle for the goal with assists from junior co-captain Aisling Coyle and sophomore Berta Queralt to tie the game and sending it to overtime.
In extra time, both teams had multiple chances to claim the win. On a counterattack eight minutes in, Albany pushed the ball through the Buckeye midfield with numbers. However, the native of Barcelona, Spain, Pastor-Pitarque did not give up on the play, running 80 yards back on defense to make a key defensive save in front of goal denying Albany a gamewinner.
Minutes later, she completed the comeback victory at 80:49 when she gained possession inside the circle and fired a shot into the right side of the cage for the unassisted goal. The 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Pastor-Pitarque now has nine goals on the year with 25 points.
Senior back Bri Doak made her 80th-career start, breaking the program record set by former Buckeye Kelly Terwilliger (2004-07) with 79 career starts.
Junior goalkeeper Ally Tunitis made five saves vs. the Great Danes and improves to 17-4 in 2010.