Oct. 5, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team gets settled into fall practice, it does so with 13 newcomers to the roster. Alexis Venechanos, second-year Ohio State head coach, has added two transfers and 11 freshmen to the 2011-12 squad, who opened a challenging fall ball schedule Sunday vs. Louisville and Northwestern.

“We are very proud and excited for these new 13 Newcomers joining Buckeye Nation,” Venechanos said. “We were able to bring in athletes at each position on the field and together they will bring a dynamic element to team.”

The group hails from six states and includes three attackers, five midfielders, three defenders and two goalies. Two players will join their older sisters as current members of the Buckeye program, filling out the roster with three pairs of siblings.

Kelsea Ayers joins the Buckeyes from Mt. Airy Md., and Linganore High School, where she played basketball, volleyball and field hockey in addition to lacrosse for her father Chris Ayers. After starting her career as the rookie of the year, Ayers went on to earn MVP, First Team Frederick News Post and Gazette and honorable mention Washington Post honors as a senior midfielder. The 2011 team captain was the all-area points leader (73g, 50a) en route to leading her team to the MVAL Piedmont conference championship. Off the field, Ayers was the president of her graduating class all four years of high school.

A native of Rockville Centre, N.Y., Jackie Cifarelli played lacrosse under head coach Megan Healy at Southside High School, tallying 101 goals and 83 assists over her four-year career. An attack/midfield player, she earned All-Nassau County and team offensive player of the year honors as a junior and senior and helped lead the team to the conference championship in both 2008 and 2009. Also an accomplished soccer player, Cifarelli lettered four years on the pitch, playing forward for the Nassau County, Long Island and New York state champions who also finished first in the nation in 2007 and 2009.

Alli Dawson, a native of Arnold Md., played lacrosse under head coach Karen Tengwall at Broadneck High School. She was a First Team All-Met selection by the Washington Post, as well as by Capital and Coaches following her senior year. She tallied 48 of her 80 career goals and 24 of 48 career assists in her senior season as a midfielder, in addition to posting 40 groundballs and 41 draw controls to earn team offensive MVP accolades at the end of the season. Also a member of the soccer team, Dawson was the team MVP and a first team all-state, Baltimore Sun Second Team All-Met and First Team Coaches and Capital honoree as a junior and senior. Dawson’s older sister, Laura, is a junior on the women’s lacrosse team at American.

A product of Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, N.J., Tori DeScenza played soccer, basketball and lacrosse, the latter for head coach Chris Raichle. During her senior year, DeScenza played 21 games in goal with 175 saves and a .630 save percentage, earning first team all-shore, first team all-division and all-state honorable mention while helping the team to the conference championship. In total, DeScenza and Shore Regional captured three conference regular-season and tournament championships during her career and two state sectional titles.

Taylor Donahue hails from Shamong, N.J., and the Seneca High School lacrosse program under the coaching direction of Morgan Crothers. As a midfielder/defender, Donahue was a two-time U.S. Lacrosse First Team All-American and Academic All-American, as well as a First Team All-South Jersey, all-county and all-conference selection as a junior and senior. As a team captain, she led the county in scoring as a senior with 77 goals and 44 assists, helping propel Seneca to its first conference title in 2011. Donahue also lettered two years on the soccer pitch, earning the team captain title as a senior. All three of Donahue’s sisters played Division I lacrosse: Mia (Bucknell), Deona (George Mason) and Kirsten (currently a senior at Ohio State).

A native of Glenwood, Md., Mary Kate Facchina played tennis, basketball and lacrosse while attending Mount DeSales Academy. A team captain for head coach Abree Johnson as senior, Facchina was named the MVP as a junior and senior after leading the team in scoring both seasons as a midfielder. Also a letterwinner in tennis and basketball, she was the 2008 unsung hero, 2010 MVP and 2010 captain on the tennis court and 2010/2011 team captain and unsung hero for basketball. Facchina also was successful in the classroom, earning the athletic achievement award as a senior in 2011. Two of her sisters also are Division I athletes. Julia played tennis at Virginia Tech, while Cara currently is a sophomore on the lacrosse team at Ohio State.

Kaila Gottlick joins the Scarlet and Gray as a sophomore transfer from Stony Brook where she started in every game as a freshman midfielder and was in the Top 3 in points off 19 goals and seven assists, while also tallying 14 draw controls and eight groundballs. Gottlick originally hails from Madison, Conn., and is a product of Daniel Hand High School and head coach Kevin Sidlecki. She was a First Team All-American, All-SCC and all-state honoree, as well as the MVP of the SCC Championships as a senior in 2010. In her final two seasons at Hand, Gottlick had 48 goals, 27 assists and 24 groundballs.

Jessica Hassett comes to Ohio State from Rocky Point, N.Y. where she played midfield at Rocky Point High School for head coach Dan Spallina. A team captain as a senior and three-time all-county selection, Hassett finished her career with 65 goals and 26 assists. She helped lead the team to two county championships in four years, earning all-tournament honors as freshman in 2008. Hassett also was a letterwinner in soccer, recording 35 goals during her soccer career.

A native of Haymarket, Va., and product of Battlefield High School, Caitlin Hester played four years at goalie for head coach Jenny Tran. Hester was the 2010-11 district and region player of the year, as well as a member of the all-district, all-region and all-metro teams both seasons. As team captain and MVP, she helped lead Battlefield to the 2011 regional championship and three-consecutive state quarterfinal appearances in 2009-11. Earlier in her career, Hester was named to the UnderArmour underclass DC-area all-star team. The No. 4 goalie in the country according to ESPN Rise, Hester finished her career with a 56-21 record, while recording 665 saves, nine groundballs and 7.5 goals-against average with a .700 save percentage on free-position shots.

Hallie Keselman joins the Buckeyes from Colts Neck, N.J., where she was a member of the Colts Neck High School soccer, indoor track and lacrosse teams, the latter of the tutelage of head coach Troy Madison. The nation’s leading scorer as a senior in 2011, Keselman had school-record totals of 125 goals, 73 assists and 78 groundballs, earning News Transcript Female Athlete of the Year, All-New Jersey and team MVP honors at the end of the season. She finished her career with 321 goals, 146 assists and 242 groundballs, point totals that give her the school career record and rank her fourth in state history in total goals and points.

Jennifer Porretto hails from Smithtown N.Y., and Hauppauge High School where she played soccer, basketball and lacrosse. Coached by Abigail Zeltmann, Porretto was the 2011 Suffolk County and Long Island Player of the Year and holds the school records for goals, assists and points after tallying 71 goals and 64 assists for 135 points as a senior. The ninth-ranked player in the nation according to ESPN rise, her assist total was first among all Long Island players, while her points were third. Hauppauge advanced to the county championship game each of Porretto’s final two seasons, winning the final in 2011 and setting up the midfielder/attacker for First Team All-Metro honors. She was a previous all-league and all-county selection earlier in her career, and was a member of the Suffolk County championship soccer team in 2010.

Jennifer Schmitt joins the Buckeyes as a graduate student after playing three seasons, 2008-10, at Rutgers. She tallied 39 goals, 13 assists, 52 points and 51 draw controls in 43 games with 21 starts as a Scarlet Knight. As a sophomore in 2009, Schmitt had career-best totals of 19 goals, seven assists, 22 draw controls, 11 groundballs and seven caused turnovers while starting 14 of 15 games on the season. Prior to her time at Rutgers, Schmitt was a four-year starter and senior captain for Jen and Joe High at Perry Hall High School in Baltimore, Md., leading the team in scoring as a junior and senior.

Emily Valli joins the Buckeyes from St. Louis Mo., where she attended John Burroughs School and played three seasons at midfield under head coach Megan O’Malley. A two-time first team all-state selection, Valli led the team to state championships in 2009 and 2011. She was the state’s leading scorer with 65 goals and was the Missouri Girl’s player of the year following the championship run as a sophomore in 2009. After missing the 2010 season with an injury, Burroughs came back in 2011 with 19 goals, two assists and 17 groundballs as a team captain. Also a four-year letterwinner in field hockey, she was a three-time First Team All-MWAA selection as a midfielder and helped the team to the 2010 state championship.