COLUMBUS, Ohio - Kirsten Donahue scored a career-high five goals as the No. 19 Ohio State women's lacrosse team dominated 20th-ranked Johns Hopkins, 19-12, in a Big Ten Network nationally-televised game Saturday afternoon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes improved to 9-6 overall and 2-3 in the ALC, nabbing the fourth seed in the upcoming conference tournament, while the Blue Jays drop to 9-7 overall and 1-4 for the sixth seed.
"We are so proud of the team and the way they competed from the opening whistle to the end of the game," Alexis Venechanos, first-year Ohio State head coach said. "Possession was crucial ... I also think our attack did a great job of being a little more balanced. Defensively, I thought we did a great job and Annie definitely made some timely saves."
Outside of Donahue's game-high five goals, nine of the team's 14 remaining goals came from the hands of seniors, who celebrated their final regular-season home game prior to the opening draw. Brittney Zerhusen had seven points off four goals and three assists, followed by Jacqueline Orona's three scores and one each from Maghan Beaudrault and Jayme Beard.
Defensively, senior goalie Annie Carruthers had a strong showing, tallying 13 saves, including nine the second half alone, and defender Lindsey Gysin had a caused turnover and pair of groundballs. Fellow seniors Maggie Smith and Natasha Blackburn also took part in their last home game as Buckeyes.
Donahue and Zerhusen paced the Buckeyes as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead over the first 19 minutes and never looked back. Candace Rossi scored a pair for Hopkins in the opening period, but Ohio State maintained a 7-3 advantage at the intermission after Zerhusen completed her hat trick at the 3:12 mark on a free-position shot.
Both teams came out of the break with renewed energy as they combined for 21 goals in the second half alone. The Blue Jays scored three of the first four, all in the first three minutes, to cut the Buckeyes' lead to two at 8-6 with 27:28 on the clock. They would get no closer the rest of the way, however, as Ohio State fired off a quick 8-2 run to pull ahead by a 16-8 mark. Markwordt had three in the scoring spree, including two in a three-goal burst over 1:13 of play early in the half.
"In some other games, we've been up early in the first half and we let teams come back," Donahue said. "The goal today was to play the game completely through and I think we did that today from the beginning of the game to the end. We were aggressive , we played body D and we finished our shots."
This tenacity allowed the Buckeyes to withstand a short-lived late-game rally by Hopkins. After scoring a couple quick goals, the 'Jays were silenced by Donahue's fifth of the game and a series of saves by Carruthers, the defending and preseason selection for ALC Goalie of the Year. Zerhusen's fourth and Orona's second capped off scoring for Ohio State in the final minutes and gave the seniors their 39th victory of the last four seasons.
"We came in on a mission to win," Carruthers said after the game. "We've come up short the last couple games and I think we were ready to prove that we can not only win, but win well. Any time the attack is on like that, it gives the defense more confidence to take the risks that we need to take to be successful. I think we definitely had the momentum all throughout the field."
The Buckeyes finished on top in the shot count, 33-29, and held a commanding 21-12 advantage in draw controls. Both teams tallied 23 groundballs. Hopkins operated a player down for the final 20:50 of the game after Rossi received her second yellow card for a check to the head.
The win Saturday, the third over a Top 20 ranked team for the Buckeyes this season, secured the fourth seed for Ohio State in the ALC Tournament, scheduled to begin Thursday in Nashville on the campus of Vanderbilt. The Buckeyes will face the sixth-seeded host Commodores at 3 p.m. Thursday with the winner advancing to take on top-seeded Florida at 3 p.m. Friday. All games of the ALC Tournament will be played at the Vanderbilt Lacrosse Complex.
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