Senior Captain Kirsten Donahue
April 12, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - After playing five of its last six games on the road, the 10th-ranked Ohio State women's lacrosse team returns to Columbus to host No. 13 Penn State at noon Sunday in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The ALC showdown will be televised live on Big Ten Network, the first national television appearance of the season for the Buckeyes.
IN A NUTSHELL
With three games remaining on the regular-season schedule, Ohio State currently is 9-3 on the season and 1-2 in the power-packed ALC. The Buckeyes started the year 5-0, the best start for the program in 10 years, and are poised to secure their seventh season with at least 10 victories. The game Sunday vs. the Nittany Lions is the sixth contest of the season against a ranked opponent for Ohio State after it downed then-No. 15 Vanderbilt, 13-11, last weekend. All three losses have come at the hands of ranked teams this spring, including two among the Top 5 in No. 1 Northwestern and then-No. 5 Florida (L, 10-8 - 3/24/12), both of whom also are a part of the American Lacrosse Conference.
Admission to the game at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium is free with parking available in the lots surrounding the stadium on both sides of Fred Taylor Drive. If you are unable to attend the game, watch live on BTN or BTN2GO.com with Mike Wolf and Kara Lentz calling the action. Gametracker also will be available, linked from the front page and women's lacrosse schedule page of OhioStateBuckeyes.com and the Ohio State lacrosse Twitter feed will be updated during the game (@OhioState_WLAX).
Spend Tax Day with the Buckeyes and the Ohio State band. Fans in attendance will receive special Fan Fans to help them root for the Buckeyes and kids in eighth grade and below can sign up online for a postgame clinic with the team and coaches here. Join in the conversation on Twitter, by looking out for special promotions from @OhioState_WLAX with the hashtag #TaxDayLax.
Ohio State enters the week among the national leaders in both several statistical categories. As a team, the Buckeyes are scoring 14.2 goals per game, while allowing 8.7 and winning their eight games by an average of 5.5. The latter two totals rank eighth in the NCAA with the scoring offense coming in at No. 14 and total points (254) clocking in 11th.
Several individuals are having breakout seasons as well. Alayna Markwordt (32g, 37a), who broke the school records for goals and points earlier this year, is fourth in the country in total scoring and points per game (69/5.6 per game), as well as in assists (37). Joining the Tewaaraton Trophy candidate on the attack is freshman Jackie Cifarelli, the national leader among freshmen in points per game (3.8) and the second-place holder in total points (45) among first-year players.
Fellow freshman Tori DeScenza is making her mark on the opposite end of the field. Her goals-against average (9.05) is 13th in the NCAA, while her save percentage (.500) is sixth overall. Among rookie goalies, the totals are third and first, respectively. Active on both sides of the ball, Gabby Capuzzi is sixth in caused turnovers (2.17) and leads the team in draw controls (43), groundballs (30) and caused turnovers (26).
BIG GAME, SMALL SCREEN
The appearance on BTN Sunday will be the first for the Buckeyes this season. They had three national television games a year ago and went 2-1 in those games.
RANK AND FILE
Ohio State enters the week at No. 10 in the IWLCA national poll, clocking in among the Top 20 for the 12th-consecutive week, dating back to last season, and matching its previous high position of the season (Feb. 27). After starting the season at No. 18, the Buckeyes have fluctuated within the Top 15 and have six contests on the schedule against teams in the current poll.
In five editions of the IWLCA poll this year (Feb. 27, March 19, March 26, April 2, April 9), all six ALC teams were ranked in the Top 20. The ALC is the first conference to have 100 percent of its institutions ranked, doing so for the first time last season, and holds the record for most member schools ranked at one time, with six.
AROUND THE ALC
The Ohio State-Penn State game will cap off a weekend of ALC action. No. 17 Vanderbilt travels to No. 5 Florida for a noon game Saturday, while No. 19 Johns Hopkins makes the trek to top-ranked Northwestern at noon Sunday. The Wildcats and Gators are tied atop the conference rankings with three wins apiece, while Ohio State and Penn State hold on to third, followed by Vanderbilt in fifth and Hopkins in sixth.
Florida will host the ALC Tournament May 3-5 at Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. Quarterfinal action begins at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 3 with two games followed by two semifinal games starting at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 4. The championship game will be played at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5. For more information on the sixth annual tournament or to purchase tickets, check out the tournament central page.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
Penn State, who enters the week ranked 13th in the nation, comes into Columbus with a 9-4 overall record and a 1-2 mark in the ALC. The Nittany Lions knocked off Lehigh, 15-3, ending a two-game losing skid. Theresa Zichelli had a game-high five points, tallying three goals and two assists, leading a PSU offense which produced goals from 10 different scorers. Elaine Welch, Molly Fernandez and Mackenzie Cyr each netted two goals.
On the season, Cyr leads the squad with 37 points (23g, 14a), while Tatum Coffey is the leading goal scorer with 28 and Maggie McCormick has produced a team-leading 19 assists. The Nittany Lion offense averages 12 goals per game and lets up 9.5. At the start of the week, PSU goalie Dana Cahill was tied with Buckeye Tori DeScenza for sixth in the NCAA with a .500 save percentage, a mark which elevated to .518 after the Lehigh contest.
The Buckeyes are 4-15 all-time against Penn State, last defeating the Lions April 20, 2008, a 17-12 victory in Columbus. Penn State has won the six meetings since with Ohio State and each of the last three regular-season contests.
LAST TIME VS PSU
Despite dominating play and time of possession in overtime, the No. 19 Buckeyes dropped an 11-10 decision to 15th-ranked Penn State in double OT April 17, 2011 at Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pa. The Buckeyes had their three-game winning streak snapped with the loss and dropped to 8-5 on the season and 1-2 in the ALC, while the Nittany Lions improve to 8-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference. Jen Steadman, who had a game-high five goals, scored for Penn State with 5:15 remaining in the second overtime period for the golden goal and the win. The teams played a full six-minute extra-time period with neither team finding the back of the net following the 10-10 finish to regulation. Alayna Markwordt had a team-high four goals for the Buckeyes, while four others added at least one tally.
LAST TIME OUT
The 11th-ranked Buckeyes withstood a late-game rally by No. 15 Vanderbilt to come away with a 13-11 win April 8 at the Vanderbilt Lacrosse Complex in Nashville. Led by 10 points from Alayna Markwordt, the Buckeyes improved to 9-3 on the season and 1-2 in the ALC. The Commodores fell to 7-4 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
Markwordt's 10 points off five goals and four assists were a season high, one off her career best, and paced Ohio State to its second win over a ranked opponent this season and its third-consecutive victory in the all-time series vs. Vanderbilt. Cara Facchina, Mary Kate Facchina and Jennifer Porretto each added two scores, while Kirsten Donahue and Katie Chase added singles to account for all the Buckeye scoring.
Despite registering her first game without a point in 2012, Gabby Capuzzi commanded a game-high five draw controls and added a pair of caused turnovers. Tori DeScenza earned the win in goal with 11 saves to her credit for the rookie netminder's fourth double-digit outing of the year.
Ohio State closes out the home portion of its schedule with a 2 p.m. game against American next Saturday, April 21. The contest was originally scheduled for 1 p.m. but was pushed back because of the numerous events around the OSU campus that day. Stay tuned to OhioStateBuckeyes.com and the team's social media pages next week for information on parking. The game vs. the Eagles will be Senior Day with a pregame ceremony on tap for the players who end their Buckeye careers this season.
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 293 points (172g, 121a), obliterating the previous mark of 243 set by Kelly Haggerty during the 2007-10 seasons. The senior captain and Tewaaraton Trophy candidate also has a point-scoring streak which currently stands at 60-consecutive games, dating back to March 1, 2009, and the fourth game of freshman season.
YOUTH IS SERVED
Six freshmen have made appearances in the starting lineup this season with four of them ranking among the top eight points scorers on the 2012 squad. Jackie Cifarelli (24g, 21a) is second on the team, while Jennifer Porretto (11g, 2a), Mary Kate Facchina (11g) and Hallie Keselman (6g, 2a) find themselves in the sixth through eighth positions. On the other end of the field, both goalies are in their rookie campaigns with Tori DeScenza (9.0 GAA, .500 save pct) earning 10 and Caitlin Hester (7.13 GAA, .375 save pct) making seven appearances with two starts. In addition, defender Taylor Donahue has 11 draw controls and seven caused turnovers in 10 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.
Ohio State was picked No. 18 in the IWLCA coaches poll and 20th in the deBeer media poll prior to the start of the season, while coming in fourth in the ALC preseason rankings. Individually, Alayna Markwordt has been tabbed a preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse and an ALC player to watch, along with fellow senior captain Gabby Capuzzi.
The 2012 roster features eight seniors, three juniors, eight sophomores and 11 freshmen hailing from 10 different states. Maryland leads the way with 10, followed by New Jersey (5), New York (4), Pennsylvania (4), Ohio (2) and one each from Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri and Virginia. There are 13 new faces among the group, including two transfers to go with the 11 rookies. In addition, there are two sets of sisters who have teamed up for the 2012 season.
In addition to the official website of Ohio State athletics, OhioStateBuckeyes.com, the women's lacrosse team can be followed through social media outlets Facebook (facebook.com/ohiostatewomenslacrosse) and Twitter (twitter.com/OhioState_WLAX).
Humphrey Highlights | Mackenzie Maring