COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team opens the 2011 season at 2 p.m. Saturday against fourth-ranked Duke in Durham, N.C., and the Blue Devils’ Koskinen Stadium.

“The coaching staff and players are all excited for this season,” Alexi Venechanos, Ohio State head coach said. “The fall was great for us to learn each other’s tendencies on and off the field. We got to know each other a little bit better.  We’ve started off the preseason good and have had a strong start with a lot of weeks of practicing. Going into our first game I think we’re well prepared and we’re just excited to have the opportunity to play.”

In the all-time series, Ohio State holds a 1-0 advantage after defeating the Blue Devils in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, 10-7, in Durham, N.C. Saturday marks the first regular-season meeting between the teams.

“We know Duke is a tough opponent,” junior captain Gabby Capuzzi said. “We’re excited though, we have a tough schedule this year. But we get to play against new opponents and play new defense against us. It’s someone to run our plays against and see different faces other than our team.”

The Buckeyes begin the season with three-consecutive road games. Following Duke, they will travel to Annapolis, Md., to take on Navy Feb. 18 before venturing to the Nation’s Capital for a contest with American Feb. 20. Ohio State opens the home portion of its schedule vs. St. Bonaventure at 2 p.m. Feb. 27 on the indoor turf field in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

The 15-game schedule features six home games and five total contests vs. teams in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.

Annie Carruthers and Alayna Markwordt each earned a spot on the preseason All-ALC team, announced recently. Both earned all-conference and all-region honors a year ago and are poised for even greater success this season. A senior goalie, Carruthers was the 2010 ALC Goalie of the Year after leading the conference throughout the regular season in save percentage (0.506) and saves per game (10.1), totals that ranked her third and sixth in the NCAA, respectively.
      Markwordt, a second-team honoree a year ago and the 2009 rookie of the year, finished 2010 second on the team in both goals and assists. She tallied 43 and 29, respectively, for 72 total points. The Woodbine, Md., native had 12 multi-goal games, including back-to-back five-goal performances vs. Northwestern and Florida.

A trio of Buckeyes were selected captains of the 2011 squad during the preseason. Seniors Annie Carruthers and Maghan Beaudrault and junior Gabby Capuzzi were bestowed with the honor and will lead Ohio State this season.

Alexis Venechanos became the second head coach in Ohio State women’s lacrosse history July 1, 2010. Venechanos was the head coach at Massachusetts for the four previous years after a three-year stint as assistant coach Northwestern and a successful playing career at Maryland. A winner on every level, Venechanos (pronounced: ven-eh-CHAN-ohs) has been a part of four NCAA titles (as a player and coach) and a total of eight conference championships. She replaced Sue Stimmel, who resigned from her position last May after 15 years as the only previous head coach in Buckeye program history.

Amanda Belichick and Christy Finch were named assistant coaches of the Buckeyes last August to complete Venechanos’ staff. Belichick, who coached under Venechanos at UMass in 2010, previously was the head lacrosse coach at Choate Rosemary Hall for two years after her playing career at Wesleyan in 2007.
      Finch, a native of Hudson, Ohio, joined the Buckeyes after one season as assistant coach at Cincinnati following her playing career at Northwestern, where she was coached by Venechanos her first two seasons. A four-time national champion with the Wildcats, Finch was named the IWLCA Defensive Player of the Year and an all-America selection in 2007 and 2008.

The Buckeyes finished the 2010 season with a 9-8 overall record and a 1-4 mark in the American Lacrosse Conference, earning the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament. Their season ended May 6 with a 14-12 loss to Penn State in the ALC Quarterfinals.