Nov. 3, 2011
"In the first half I thought we were sitting back and waiting to see what Michigan State was going to do," 16th-year head coach Anne Wilkinson said. "They had a great game plan, but I think after we came out at halftime, we really went after the ball and communicated and that created opportunities for us offensively."
With the victory against the Spartans, Wilkinson is now one win shy of 200 victories as head coach of Ohio State.
The Scarlet and Gray will now play No. 3 seed Penn State in the semifinals at approximately Noon Friday. No. 1 seed Michigan and No. 4 seed Iowa will play in the first semifinal matchup beginning at 10 a.m. ET.
It was a big day for senior tri-captain Jenn Sciulli, the 2011 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, who scored the game-winning goal at 51:06, while also notching her Big Ten leading tenth defensive save of the season in a key moment early on the in the second half. The native of Palmyra, Pa., Sciulli also started her 83rd-consecutive game as a Buckeye, passing former teammate Bri Doak (2007-10) for first on the OSU career starts list.
"I'm so proud of her and the way she is playing right now is what she does every day in practice," Wilkinson said. "She brings everything she has since she first stepped on the field as a freshman. I'm really happy for her that she is receiving the results she is getting."
The Buckeyes held a 13-1 advantage in shots and a 6-1 lead in penalty corners in a scoreless first half of competition.
In the beginning of the second half, the Spartans claimed a penalty corner and had a good opportunity to the tie the game, but Sciulli, who positioned herself at the right side in front of the cage, blocked the shot and sent it out of the circle for the defensive stop. She now has 24 career defensive saves, which is second most in program history.
Minutes later, a key play happened on the other side of the turf. Sophomore Arielle Cowie gave the Scarlet and Gray a 1-0 lead at 39:48 with an unassisted goal. The native of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, Cowie, lobbed a beautiful shot from the right side over MSU goalkeeper Molly Cassidy into the back left of the cage to claim her first postseason goal of her career.
However, the Spartans came right back to tie the game, 1-1, at 48:38 when Abby Barker found the back of the net with assist from Adelle Lever.
But the Bucks rebounded quickly to regain the lead three minutes later as coach Wilkinson's pregame talk to "work as a unit" paid off for the Buckeyes. Following a penalty corner, the OSU offense jelled several passes together inside of the circle when sophomore midfielder Paula Pastor-Pitarque, a 2011 Second-Team All-Big Ten selection, found Sciulli open eight feet in front of the cage to begin the OSU score. The Buckeye back finished it off with a blast into the back of the board for her fifth goal of the season.
Ohio State held strong in the final part of the game, denying Michigan State a shot on goal for the last 21:22 to claim the victory. The team is now 8-1 away from Columbus in 2011.
Senior tri-captain goalkeeper Ally Tunitis improves to 12-7 overall, collecting a pair of saves, while Cassidy falls to 7-13 overall, notching 13 stops.
Ohio State held a 20-7 lead in shots and a 10-5 advantage in penalty corners against the Spartans.