No. 10 Ohio State Faces No. 14 Notre Dame in Battle of Unbeatens

Go Buckeyes! Tayler Kuzma is among team leaders in GBs and CTs.
Go Buckeyes!
Tayler Kuzma is among team leaders in GBs and CTs.
Go Buckeyes!

March 2, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 10 Ohio State women’s lacrosse team (5-0) hosts 14th-ranked Notre Dame (2-0) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Ohio Stadium to conclude a four-game homestand. The Buckeyes are off to their best start since the 2002 season and would match the mark set a decade ago with a win vs. the Irish.

There are numerous events on the Ohio State campus this weekend and it is suggested fans allow extra time in getting to Ohio Stadium for the game Sunday. Parking is available in the lots surrounding the stadium; however, some areas may be blocked because of construction projects. Please follow all officer directions and traffic signs, use caution and expect some delays. Fans should enter through gate 7. Admission to the women’s game Sunday, and throughout the regular season, is free. Parking map:

Led by second-year head coach Alexis Venechanos, 10th-ranked Ohio State has jumped out a 5-0 start on the season, its best run to begin the year in 10 years. After a 16-3 victory over Brown last Saturday, the Buckeyes are leading all Division I programs in total points and caused turnovers, while holding Top 5 rankings in scoring offense, defense and margin.

Alayna Markwordt, a candidate for the Tewaartaon Trophy, is not only leading the team and league, but the nation in scoring with 28 points (13g, 15a). Gabby Capuzzi and Jackie Cifarelli each hold national Top 5 scoring totals to their credit as well. The Buckeye attack is averaging over 17 goals per game, while the defense is holding opponents to just over five on fewer than 16 shots per game.



For fans unable to make the game, it will be streamed through the Buckeye Vision subscription service on Scarlet and Gray Sports Radio will provide the audio on the webcast, in addition to providing an audio-only feed at S&G Radio’s Brad Comer will provide play-by-play for the game Sunday, with former OSU All-American Kimberly Lowe adding expert analysis. Live stats will be linked from the front page and women’s lacrosse schedule page on

In addition to the official website of Ohio State athletics,, the women’s lacrosse team can be followed through social media outlets Facebook ( and Twitter (

The Buckeyes check in at No. 10 in the first IWLCA poll of the regular season released Tuesday after starting the year at No. 18 in the preseason rankings. They also moved up in the deBeer Media Poll, coming in at No. 12 after a No. 14 position last week. This is the highest IWLCA poll position for Ohio State since it started the 2004 season at No. 9.  

Two games into the season, the Irish are unbeaten and ranked No. 14 by the IWLCA. They knocked off Stanford, 17-14, in their season opener and defeated Duquesne, 17-7, last weekend. Lindsay Powell and Maggie Tamasitis are pacing the attack early with eight points apiece. Powell has eight goals to her credit, while Tamasitis, a member of the Tewaaraton Trophy Watch List, has two goals and a team-leading six assists. Ellie Hilling has played the sum of both games in goal and has a 10.5 goals-against average and .432 save percentage. Notre Dame is coached by Christine Halfpenny, who is in her first season as the second head coach in program history.

Notre Dame leads the all-time series 9-7, though the Buckeyes captured the victory last year in South Bend. They battled back from a halftime deficit to defeat then-No. 11 Notre Dame, 13-8, March 11, 2011, at the Loftus Center. Brittney Zerhusen led all scorers with eight points off five goals and three assists, as the Buckeyes won their second game in a row to improve 4-3 on the season. Ohio State trailed 6-5 at the half after battling the Irish to four ties and three lead changes through the first period of play but came out of the intermission running on all cylinders, scoring three in the first 10 minutes of the second half and four before Notre Dame could come up with a response. Zerhusen fed Gabby Capuzzi and Maghan Beaudrault for a pair of goals to give Ohio State a 7-6 lead that it would not relinquish.

With her second of four goals in the Buckeyes’ 21-7 win over Louisville Feb. 19, senior Alayna Markwordt became the leading point scorer in Ohio State women's lacrosse history. She now has 252 points (153g, 99a), besting the previous mark of 243 set by Kelly Haggerty during the 2007-10 seasons. The senior captain has also extended her goal-scoring streak to 27 games, while her point-scoring streak currently stands at 53-consecutive games, dating back to March 1, 2009, and the fourth game of freshman season.

Ohio State is out-scoring opponents by a league-best 12.0 goals per game, averaging 17.2 per contest – the second-most of any ALC team (Hopkins is scoring a NCAA-leading 19.0 per game after two games). Nine players have tallied five or more goals on the season and five have 10 or more total points.

The Buckeyes top-ranked scoring defense of any ALC team and the third in the nation. They have surrendered 5.2 goals per game and are allowing fewer than 15 shots per game. Ohio State also has the most caused turnovers in the country with 12.6 per game, forcing 69 percent of its opponents’ turnovers. Midfielders Gabby Capuzzi and Kirsten Donahue find themselves ranked first and third, respectively, in the ALC with 2.8 and 2.0 caused turnovers per game.

There currently are five freshmen in the starting lineup and four of the top eight points scorers on the 2012 squad are in their first seasons. Jackie Cifarelli (11g, 11a) is tied for third on the team, while Hallie Keselman (6g, 1a), Mary Kate Facchina (7g) and Jennifer Porretto (5g, 2a) all find themselves tied for sixth. On the other end of the field, both goalies are in their rookie campaigns with Tori DeScenza (6.39 GAA, 7svs) earning each of the last four starts and defender Taylor Donahue has six draw controls and four caused turnovers in five starts.

The 2012 roster features two sets of sisters. Senior captain Kirsten Donahue was joined by her younger sister Taylor Donahue, a freshman, this season, while fellow rookie Mary Kate Facchina joined her older sister, sophomore Cara Facchina this year. All four siblings have seen action in each game this season with the Donahue sisters both starting all five contests.

The Buckeyes continued its season-opening domination with a 16-3 victory over Brown last Saturday at Ohio Stadium in the first half of a doubleheader with the No. 11/12 men's lacrosse team, who faced UMass. Gabby Capuzzi and Alayna Markwordt had five points apiece to lead the OSU charge which saw eight players find the back of the net. Capuzzi also tallied game-high totals with five caused turnovers and four groundballs. The Buckeye defense forced 15 of Brown's 18 turnovers and allowed just 10 shots on the day, five in each half. Tayler Kuzma also had a big day defensively, forcing three turnovers and picking up four groundballs.

The Buckeyes take two weeks off before returning to action in a pair of games in the Empire State. Ohio State will travel to Canisius for a Sunday, March 18 contest before continuing on to St. Bonaventure for a game Monday, March 19. The next home game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, March 24 against No. 4 Florida, the ALC opener for both teams.