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Buckeyes (16-4) make NCAA appearance for sixth time in program history

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The seventh-ranked Ohio State field hockey team will play No. 15 Albany at 2 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in State College, Pa., on the campus of Penn State University. The Buckeyes (16-4, 5-1 Big Ten), who claimed their third Big Ten regular-season championship this season, advance to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in program history after receiving an at-large bid into the championship.

The winner of the Ohio State-Albany game will play the winner of the earlier game between Penn State and Syracuse at 2 p.m. Sunday for a chance to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Championship Nov. 19 in College Park, Md. The matchup between the Nittany Lions and fourth-seeded Orange will begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

LIVE STATS
Live scoring of the game Saturday will be available at www.gopsusports.com. A link to the “GameTracker” with live stats will be on the Buckeye field hockey schedule page on OhioStateBuckeyes.com

EARNING THE BID
Ohio State enters the contest with a 16-4 overall ledger, including a 5-1 Big Ten record to be named Big Ten regular-season co-champions with Michigan.

In all, four Big Ten teams will represent the conference in the 2010 NCAA Tournament in Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. It is the 10th straight season the conference has sent at least three teams to the national tournament and the third time in the last 16 seasons the league will send four or more teams.

MAKING THE TRIP
This will be the Buckeyes’ sixth trip to the national tournament and fifth under head coach Anne Wilkinson. Ohio State made its first appearance at the NCAA tournament in 1994 but did not return again until 2001 with Wilkinson at the helm. The 2010 campaign marks the second time in program history the Buckeyes have made back-to-back tournament after first doing so in 2005 and 2006.

Last season, Ohio State lost, 4-1, to North Carolina in an NCAA first-round matchup in Winston-Salem, N.C. The Buckeyes are 1-5 all-time in NCAA tournament games.

THE TOP FOUR SEEDS
2008 NCAA Champion Maryland earned the overall No. 1 seed, going 19-1 this season and winning the ACC title. North Carolina picked up the No. 2 seed while Virginia received the three-seed and Syracuse the four-seed.

A LOOK AT ALBANY
The Great Danes (16-5) punched their ticket to the tournament with a 2-1 win over Rider Nov. 9 in a NCAA play-in game to earn their second NCAA Division I Tournament appearance. Albany won the America East Conference field hockey championship Nov. 6 with a 3-2 victory over No. 19 New Hampshire.

The Great Danes also advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2008, where they fell to eventual national champion Maryland. Albany is one win short of the school’s all-time single-season record, as the 1997 team won 17 games at the Division II level.

The Great Danes have won 10 or more games for five straight years is led by Christina Patrick, a first team All-America East selection. She is second on the program’s single-season Division I goals and points chart with 15 goals and six assists. Albany also has the league’s rookie of the year and tournament MVP, Corrine McConville and the goalkeeper of the year Kristi Troch, who leads the nation with a .822 save percentage.

BUCKEYES VS. ALBANY
The NCAA tournament game between Ohio State and Albany Saturday will mark just the third meeting between the two programs. Last time out, the Buckeyes downed the Great Danes, 4-1, Sept. 9, 2005, in Columbus.

Series History:
Sept. 13, 2000 – Ohio State 4, Albany 0
Sept. 9, 2005 – Ohio State 4, Albany 1

BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
Junior co-captain Aisling Coyle leads the Buckeyes with 50 points and 22 goals, while sophomore forward Berta Queralt has 46 points on 10 goals and a league-high and OSU-record 26 assists. Senior midfielder Aisling McKeon is third with 28 points and has 20 assists. Senior forward Jena Cacciatore is second on the team in goals with 12 and has 26 points overall.

As a team, Ohio State has had a second-half surge in games with 163-56 shot advantage, 94-29 penalty corner advantage and 32-12 goal advantage in the final 35 minutes. Overall, the Buckeyes have a6 306-148 margin in shots this season and a 156-75 lead in penalty corners, while outscoring opponents 65-23.

BIG TEN, BIG HONORS
For the fifth-consecutive season, at least one Buckeye earned a player of the year award from the Big Ten as junior co-captain Aisling Coyle was named Defensive Player of the Year and Paula Pastor-Pitarque was named Freshman of the Year.  With the honor, Coyle and Pastor-Pitarque become the sixth and seventh Ohio State student-athletes to receive a major conference distinction, all under 15-year head coach Anne Wilkinson. Coyle is the first Buckeye in program history to win the top defensive honor, while Pastor-Pitarque is the third Buckeye to win the top rookie award.

In addition, Coyle was a unanimous First Team All-Big Ten honoree along with sophomore Berta Queralt. Senior midfielder Aisling McKeon, junior back Jenn Sciulli and Pastor-Pitarque were named to the second-team. Senior back Bri Doak was Ohio State’s Sportsmanship Award honoree.

The two Big Ten Player of the Year awards ties the program record set in 2006. The five All-Big Ten selections ties the program high accomplished first in 2001 and again in 2005.

REVIEW: 2010 BIG TEN TOURNAMENT
The Buckeyes, who earned the No. 1 seed, advanced to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament for the third time in program history after defeating Michigan State, 2-0, Nov. 5 in the semifinal game. However, Ohio State fell, 2-1, to No. 2-seed Michigan in the championship final Nov. 7. Aisling Coyle and Paula Pastor-Pitarque were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team.

THE SYRACUSE ORANGE
Led by head coach three-time Big East Coach of the Year Ange Bradley, Syracuse (15-4) makes its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament after advancing to the quarterfinals in 2009 and the semifinal game in 2008. The team has won its last eight outings and 10 of its last 11, including two victories against No. 4 Connecticut.

Martina Loncarica leads the Orange with 27 points with a team-high 10 goals and seven assists. She is first in the Big East with seven game-winning goals. Freshman midfielder Leonie Geyer has registered 22 points off five goals and a team-high 12 assists. Junior forward Heather Susek has scored nine goals and tallied three assists for 21 points. Goalkeeper Leann Stiver has a 12-4 record in cage. She recorded a 1.08 goals-against-average, a .780 saves percentage and 64 saves while registering four shutouts.

THE PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
The Nittany Lions (14-5) are making their 25th appearance in the NCAA Tournament this weekend after earning an at-large bid as hosts for the first and second rounds of the championship. In the past 10 years, Penn State has advanced to the NCAA Tournament seven times and competed in the finals on two occasions.

The team is led by first team All-Big Ten selection Ayla Halus, a sophomore goalkeeper who ranks third in the country with a .815 save percentage, posting six shutouts. Kelsey Amy and Jessica Longstreth were named first team All-Big Ten selections.  Amy, a sophomore forward, leads the team and ranks third in the conference with 19 goals. Longstreth, a junior midfielder, stands second on the team with 35 points and is one of only five players in the country with at least 10 goals and 15 assists. Freshman midfielder Brittany Grzywacz was named to the second team All-Big Ten list, leading the Nittany Lions with three defensive saves.

ROAD WARRIORS
Ohio State has been one of the top teams on the road in 2010. The Buckeyes are 10-2 away from Columbus with key wins over nationally ranked opponents, including Louisville (Sept.  8), Duke (Sept. 18), Wake Forest (Sept. 19) and Michigan (Oct. 22). Their only two losses were in a neutral-site game against third-ranked Virginia, 4-2, Sept. 11 and No. 11 Michigan, 2-1, Nov. 7 in the Big Ten tournament championship game.

On the road, Ohio State has outscored its opponents, 32-16 with a 148-92 advantage on shots and a 91-50 advantage on penalty corners. The Buckeyes are the only team in Division I with an undefeated road record at 8-0 and are 2-2 in neutral-site games.

OHIO STATE AT NO. 7
Ohio State is No. 7 in the Kookaburra/NFHCA Division I Poll released Tuesday by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association. Five Big Ten programs received votes in the 10th 2010 standings with Ohio State leading followed by eighth-ranked Michigan, No. 10 Penn State and No. 11 Michigan State.

Ohio State started 2010 at No. 14 and has stayed in the Top 10 for the last eight weeks. The Buckeyes are sixth in the nation in RPI, which leads all Big Ten schools.

STAT RANKINGS IN THE NCAA
Three Buckeyes are among the best in the nation in offensive categories (as of Nov. 7). Berta Queralt is third in assists per game (1.3), while Aisling McKeon is sixth (1.0). Aisling Coyle is seventh in the nation in goals per game (1.1) and 10th in points per game (2.5). Jenn Sciulli is seventh in defensive saves with six. Goalkeeper Ally Tunitis has a 1.13 goals against average, which is 10th in the country.

As a team, Ohio State is third in assists per game (3.4), fifth in points per game (9.9), sixth in winning percentage (.800), eighth in goals against average (1.12) and scoring margin (2.04) and 10th in scoring average (3.16).

STAT RANKINGS IN THE BIG TEN
Several Buckeyes rank among the top 3 in various Big Ten categories (as of Nov. 8). Aisling Coyle is second in the conference in points (50), points per game (2.50) and goals (22). Berta Queralt is first in the league in assists with 26 and third in points (46). Aisling McKeon is second in assists (20).

Defensively, Jenn Sciulli leads the Big Ten in defensive saves with six, while goalkeeper Ally Tunitis is first in shutouts with seven and leads the conference in goals against average with a 1.13.

As a team, Ohio State is first in several statistics, including scoring margin (2.04), scoring average (3.16), shutouts (7), goals against average (1.12), goals scored (65), goals scored per game (3.25), goals allowed (23), goals allowed per game (1.15), assists (68) and assists per game (3.40).

DOAK TO BREAK CAREER STARTS RECORD
With a start vs. Albany Saturday, senior co-captain Bri Doak will break the Ohio State’s career starts record with 80. Doak, a native of Selinsgrove, Pa., has been a key component to the Buckeye backfield starting in every game for Ohio State since her freshman season. She passes former Buckeye Kelly Terwilliger (2004-07) who had 79 career starts. Doak is two starts away from breaking the career games played record set by Curlyne Wynn (2003-06) who played in 81 games for the Scarlet and Gray.

OFFENSIVE FORCE
Berta Queralt adjusted to the double and triple teams from opposing defenses this season. The sophomore All-American had three games with multiple goals and eight games with multiple assists. She was held without a point just three times and had six games with four or more points, including a six-point performance vs. Ball State (Oct. 27).

26 AND COUNTING
Berta Queralt has accomplished something no Buckeye before her has done. Her 26 assists this season is a program record, breaking the previous mark set by Mieke van Ulden (1994-97) who recorded 20 assists during in 1996. Queralt stands third on the career assists record with 38.

A HELPING HAND
Sophomore forward Berta Queralt and senior midfielder Aisling McKeon have played major roles in the Buckeye offense. The two have combined for 46 of Ohio State’s 68 assists while playing key roles on the OSU penalty corner unit. Queralt’s 26 and McKeon’s 20 assists are both career-highs. 

DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING
Jenn Sciulli leads the conference in defensive saves this year with six. The back from Palmyra, Pa., has 12 in her career, which is tied for fifth with Tracey Senich (1993-96) and Traci Massielo (1990-93) on the Ohio State’s all-time list.

GREAT SCOT
Aisling Coyle, the 2010 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, is having a big season offensively as well in her third season at Ohio State. The junior midfielder continues to lead the team in goals (22) and points (50), both career highs. Her goals this season are more than the previous two years combined after recording five in 2008 and six in 2009. The co-captain from Glasgow, Scotland, has scored in 15 of 20 games this season and has been held without a point just three times.

Coyle is only the third Buckeye this decade to cap the 20-goal mark along with Linda Haussener (20 in 2008) and Vanessa Immordino (22 in 2002). With her goal vs. Michigan State in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament Nov. 5,  Coyle became just the fourth Buckeye to have at 50 or more points in a season.

SOPHOMORE SUCCESS
Danica Deckard is one of the key factors for the Buckeyes’ this year. In the last 11 games, the sophomore forward has 15 points on seven goals and an assist. Her eight goals, one assist and 17 points are all career-highs.

SHUT THEM DOWN
In the last 11 games, the Buckeye defense has allowed just six goals. Led by senior Bri Doak, juniors Jenn Sciulli and Aisling Coyle and freshman Nora Murer, Ohio State’s defense has only allowed an average of 1.15 goals and 7.4 shots per game this year. 

Defensive highlights:
• Denied Ohio a shot in the final 42:22 minutes of a 2-1 (OT) win, Aug. 31.
• Outshot Kent State, 16-0, Sept. 5, and Robert Morris, 34-0, Sept. 29.
• Limited Indiana (Oct. 2) and Penn State (Oct. 17) to just four shots.
• Held Ball State to only two shots and did not allow a penalty corner the entire game, Oct. 27.

SHE’S A WINNER
Junior goalkeeper Ally Tunitis leads the league in shutouts with seven this season. In conference play, the Macungie, Pa., native leads the Big Ten with a 1.13 goals against average in 1419:38 of total action. Tunitis made two saves in the back-to-back wins over Penn State, 3-0, Oct. 17 and Michigan, 2-1, Oct. 22 and had four saves in the 3-0 shutout of Iowa in the final game of the regular-season Oct. 30 and in the 2-0 win over Michigan State Nov. 5 at the Big Ten Tournament.

With 16 wins to her credit, Tunitis broke the Ohio State’s season record, passing Lindsay Quintiliani, Lindsay Williams and Allison Blanton (since 1985).

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