Buckeyes open 10th season of American Lacrosse Conference play at noon vs. the Gators

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team returns to action at noon Saturday against ninth-ranked Florida at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. The Buckeyes are 5-3 after winning each of their last three games, while the Gators are 9-1 on the season and riding a nine-game winning streak.

The Ohio State-Florida game can be watched live online (subscription rates apply), or followed via live stats, both through Florida’s Web site, and linked from the front page and women’s lacrosse schedule page of

The Buckeyes hold a three-game winning streak to their credit after defeating California, 16-4, last Sunday. They are led by Alayna Markwordt and Brittney Zerhusen on the attack with the pair tallying 40 and 31 points, respectively. In goal, Annie Carruthers has started all eight contests and holds a 9.21 goals-against average with a .412 save percentage. Kirsten Donahue, Maghan Beaudrault and Gabby Capuzzi have been among the strong defensive presences, combining for 20 caused turnovers and 37 groundballs on the season, while Capuzzi and Jayme Beard dominate draw controls with 27 apiece. The Buckeyes are led by first-year head coach Alexis Venechanos, who came to Ohio State in summer 2010 and promptly added Amanda Belichick and Christy Finch to her staff for the 2011 campaign.

The American Lacrosse Conference season is underway with Northwestern and Penn State each holding a 1-0 mark in the league after each defeating Vanderbilt. Florida and Ohio State open their respective conference schedules against each other Saturday, while Johns Hopkins, the final ALC school, will open ALC play April 3 vs. the Commodores. Overall, Northwestern and Florida are 1-2 in the league, with the five-time national champion Wildcats holding a 7-0 record and the Gators coming in at 9-1. Northwestern (No. 2), Florida (No. 9) and Vanderbilt (No. 15) each are ranked in the IWLCA Top 25, while Penn State and the Buckeyes currently are receiving votes. The ALC is in its 10th season of existence and has had an automotive bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2004.

Alayna Markwordt’s junior season has continued just as her sophomore campaign ended. She has tallied at least one point in 39-consecutive games and currently leads the team in goals (24), assists (16) and points (40). Markwordt’s 5.0 points per game place her second in the ALC behind Northwestern’s Shannon Smith and ninth in the NCAA.

The Buckeyes are ranked seventh in the nation in draw controls, averaging 15.13 per game after eight contests. They have out-drawn their opponent in all but one game this season, a 12-12 tie with Notre Dame, and hold a commanding 121-77 team advantage. Individually, Gabby Capuzzi and Jayme Beard have been dominant in the center circle, pulling down 27 draws apiece. The duo is ranked No. 20 in NCAA Division I lacrosse and third among American Lacrosse Conference players.

After starting its season with an overtime loss to No. 3 North Carolina, second-year varsity program Florida has rattled off nine victories in a row, including three over ranked opponents in then-No. 20 Denver, No. 9 Georgetown and No. 11 Syracuse. Bolstered by the nation’s leading goal scorer Kitty Cullen’s 43 goals and Ashley Bruns’ 45 points off 29 goals and 16 assists, the Gators have the sixth-ranked scoring offense in the country heading into this week of competition. In goal, Mikey Meagher has absorbed all 10 decisions, tallying a 7.29 goals-against average and .436 save percentage. Meagher’s GAA is tops in the ALC and eighth in the country.

Jayme Beard scored a career-high tying four goals as the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team cruised to its third-consecutive win by defeating California, 16-4, last Sunday after at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Alayna Markwordt finished with a game-high seven points off three goals and four assists, joining Beard, Brittney Zerhusen and Gabby Capuzzi as multi-goal scorers. Buckeye goalie Annie Carruthers tallied six saves on the day, all coming in the first half, as the Scarlet and Gray defense held the Bears to just two shots in the second period.

Following the game Saturday vs. Florida, Ohio State returns to action at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 3 at Louisville. The Cardinals are 6-1 on the season with games scheduled vs. Cincinnati and Vanderbilt before the Buckeyes come to town.