April 7, 2013

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Bolstered by a seven-point performance from Jackie Cifarelli, the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team rolled to 19-4 win over Vanderbilt in a BTN-televised game Sunday afternoon on Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Field at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Now winners in each of their last three contests, the Buckeyes (6-6, 1-2 ALC) found goals from nine players as they rolled to their largest margin of victory since the 2012 season opener (19-4, vs. San Diego State).

Kelsea Ayers finished with a career-high six points off five goals and an assist, while Cara Facchina (2g, 1a), Mary Kate Facchina (3g) and Kaila Gottlick (2g, 1a) each added three points. With Tayler Kuzma, Taylor Donahue, Heather Gravinese and Kelsey Heine as anchors, the Buckeye defense forced 13 turnovers and allowed just 17 shots in the game. Tori DeScenza made five saves on 14 shots faced in 46 minutes before giving way to Caitlin Hester.

“It was a great team effort all over the place,” Alexis Venechanos, Ohio State head coach, said. “Defensively we played one of our better games, if not our best game. We followed our game plan to a `T’ and our attackers were confident and made some great decisions.”

It took over six minutes for the Buckeyes to find the back of the net, but once Mary Kate Facchina finished off a pass from Cifarelli at 23:40, they began to score at a frenetic pace. Ayers would hand a hand in four of the team’s 10 first-half goals, including back-to-back tallies less than a minute apart to give Ohio State a 3-0 lead. The advantage would stretch to 5-0 before Vanderbilt (2-12, 0-4 ALC) would score its first at 11:45.

The Buckeyes finished the half with five unanswered goals as part of an 8-0 run spanning 17:55 of game action. After tallying a pair of assists in the opening scoring spree, Cifarelli scored each of her two in the second period, teaming up with Jennifer Porretto, Gottlick and Ayers to build the nine-goal lead at halftime, 10-1.

Momentum stayed in favor of the Buckeyes in the opening minutes of the second half, which was one of their primary goals after losing a similarly large lead in a Wednesday night win over San Diego State, 19-11. They built a 13-1 lead over the first eight-plus minutes in the period before relinquishing a second goal to the Commodores at 20:51, their first in nearly 21 minutes of play.

“We talked about at halftime how we knew Vanderbilt is really explosive,” Venechanos said. “We talked about the importance of the first five minutes and I was really excited with how we responded.”

Three of the usual suspects – Gottlick, Ayers and Mary Kate Facchina – each scored again, with Mary Kate scoring off a pass from older sister Cara Facchina for the second time in the game. Now leading 16-3 after a goal from Vandy at 9:12, the Buckeyes worked on their depth, getting two goals from Alli Dawson and one from Rainey Hodgson, each of their first career tallies.

The Buckeyes finished with the advantage in shots (31-17), groundballs (20-15) and draw controls (13-12) in their fifth-consecutive win over Vanderbilt. They scored 19 goals in both of their wins this week, producing the most goals (38) in back-to-back games since the 2011 season when Ohio State earned wins over Vanderbilt (17-16, April 10) and Detroit (26-3, April 12).

With no mid-week game for the first time in three weeks, the Buckeyes return to action against eighth-ranked Penn State Sunday, April 14 at noon on Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pa. The game will once again be televised live on BTN, the fourth appearance on national TV for Ohio State this season. The Nittany Lions are 7-4 on the season and 2-1 in the ALC after falling to Northwestern Friday night. They are 4-0 at home this season and have won each of the last seven games against the Buckeyes.