May 3, 2012

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Cara Facchina scored the game-winning goal with 11 seconds remaining in overtime to seal the fourth-seeded Ohio State women’s lacrosse team’s come comeback win over fifth-seeded Vanderbilt, 10-9, in the ALC Quarterfinal Thursday night at Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. The Buckeyes advance to the conference tournament semifinal for the second-consecutive season and improve to 11-5 on the season, while the Commodores complete their 2012 campaign at 8-8.

Ohio State now will play top-seeded Florida at approximately 7 p.m. Friday in the second ALC Semifinal contest. Second-seeded Northwestern will face No. 6 seed Johns Hopkins in the first semifinal at 4:30 p.m. with the winners facing off at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the ALC Championship.

Alayna Markwordt finished the Vanderbilt with with five points off two goals and three assists, while Gabby Capuzzi and Facchina both had a game-high tying three goals. Between the pipes, Tori DeScenza made nine saves, including one with :01 remaining in regulation to force Ohio State’s second overtime of the season and first in postseason play.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Vanderbilt” Alexis Venechanos, second-year Ohio State head coach, said after the game. “They definitely tested us to our limits. We weren’t expecting them to come out at the beginning of the game and they put us on our heels for the majority of the game … [I am] just really proud of the team and how they stuck in there until the end. We practice all of those situations at the end of the game and never know when you are going to get to use them.”

The Buckeyes jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the first 3:35 of action, building a small cushion before Vanderbilt stormed back with five of the next six goals to eventually build a 5-3 advantage. Neither team would lead the contest by more than two scores as the squads battled to a total of three ties and three lead changes in the contest.

Markwordt led the charge in the opening period, assisting on both of the first two goals and adding her own score at the 15:01 mark. Facchina, off an assist from Jackie Cifarelli, and Capuzzi, with a free-position goal, also found the back of the net in the opening stanza which ended with the Buckeyes trailing by one 6-5.

Vanderbilt took the lead back to two in the second before a scoring draught plagued both sides and over 15 minutes of game action ticked by without a score. Facchina ended the draught, however, converting on a pass from Markwordt at 9:17 before Capuzzi tied it up at 7-all less than two minutes later to erase nearly a 48-minute long deficit.

From there, the teams swapped scores with Jennifer Schmitt netting the equalizer on a free-position shot with 1:06 to play in the regulation. The goal was just the second this season for the graduate student, who came to Ohio State this season after three years at Rutgers during the Baltimore, Md., native’s undergraduate career. The Buckeyes survived a last-second scare by Ally Carey who launched the shot saved by DeScenza to send the teams into overtime.

Markwordt struck first in extra time, finishing off the Buckeyes’ third of four free-position goals at the 3:33 mark. Vanderbilt countered with under a minute to go, tying it up at 9-9 before committing a foul inside their 8-meter arc to give Ohio State the opportunity for a final scoring attempt. Facchina knocked it back and the Buckeyes won the ensuing draw control to maintain possession for the final seconds.

“I felt like I just had to relax and be poised,” Facchina said of her game-winning goal. “Whatever happens, happens. I knew if I was relaxed, whatever happened would be fine. I was glad we weren’t down by one because it would have been more of a pressure situation.”

That level of calmness and poise is what allowed the Buckeyes to stay in the game after relinquishing the early lead, a sentiment echoed by the opposition.

“I think they were a patient offense today,” Vanderbilt head coach Cathy Swezey said. “I think while we were holding them they also ran some ball possessions to try and give themselves a chance to get to tomorrow and play again. I think they had a great game plan. They changed things up at halftime and started pressuring us behind the goal offensively and that too was a good game plan. That changed things that we needed to do offensively.”

The final shot count was even at 21 apiece, while Ohio State finished with a narrow edge in groundballs (22-21) and Vanderbilt came out on top in draws (13-10),although the Buckeyes won in the center circle 4-1 in overtime.

Thursday marked the second ALC Tournament win for Ohio State in its six years of existence. The Buckeyes are 0-2 all-time in semifinal action, falling to Florida last season and to Penn State in 2009 after finishing second in the ALC and earning a quarterfinal-round bye. In the last meeting vs. the Gators, the Buckeyes fell to then-No. 5 Florida, 10-8, March 24 in Columbus. 

Postgame Notes

  • This is the Buckeyes’ second-consecutive trip to the ALC Tournament semifinals and the third overall … They are 2-5 in tourney action
  • Ohio State’s last overtime victory was March 25, 2007, against St. Bonaventure (15-14) … The win Thursday ended a three-game losing streak in OT games, including one earlier this season to No. 1 Northwestern (L, 13-12, March 31)
  • It was the first overtime game in the history of the ALC Tournament
  • The Buckeyes earned their 11th win of the season for the first time since 2009 when they finished the year 11-6
  • Ohio State is 1-3 against Florida all-time and 0-1 in the ALC Tournament action
  • Alayna Markwordt needs six assists to tie the all-time record for career assists (record is 139) … She already is the program record holder for career points (311) and goals (178)
  • Vanderbilt was playing with 18 players after suspending eight indefinitely for a violation of team rules