Fourth-Seeded Buckeyes Open ALC Tourney Play Thursday vs. Vanderbilt

Go Buckeyes!
Go Buckeyes!

Go Buckeyes!
No. 4 seed Ohio State (9-6, 2-3 ALC) at No. 5 seed Vanderbilt (8-7, 1-4 ALC)
What: ALC Tournament Quarterfinals
When: Thursday, May 5 / 3 p.m. CT
Where: Vanderbilt Lacrosse Complex (Nashville, Tenn.)

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The 18th-ranked Ohio State women's lacrosse team is seeded fourth in the American Lacrosse Conference (ALC) Tournament and will face fifth-seeded Vanderbilt at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. CT) Thursday in the quarterfinals of the event hosted by Vanderbilt at the Vanderbilt Lacrosse Complex. The Buckeyes closed out the regular season with a 9-6 overall record (2-3 ALC) after dropping defeating  Johns Hopkins, 19-12, last weekend. The Commodores, 1-4 in the ALC, were 8-7 on the year and currently ranked 19th in the IWLCA poll released this week.

Vanderbilt hosts the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament for the first time this week and opens the event Thursday, May 5, against Ohio State. The 4-5 matchup will take place at 3 p.m. CT, with the winner advancing to face top seed Florida. Following the VU-OSU contest, Johns Hopkins and Penn State (3-6 seeds) will face off for the chance to take on No. 2 seed Northwestern on Friday. Friday's semifinal matchups will follow the same 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. start times as the Thursday opening round. The championship game Saturday is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT.

Admission to the 2011 ALC Tournament is $7 for adults and $4 for children and seniors. Tickets are available at the gate. Groups of 20 or more are eligible for discounted pricing by calling the Vanderbilt Ticket Office at 615-322-GOLD.

Live stats and video will be available for all games of the ALC Tournament through All games featuring the Buckeyes will have the stats and video linked through the front page and women's lacrosse schedule page on Live updates from all Buckeye games also can be received via Twitter (@OhioState_WLAX).

The ALC Tournament was instituted in the 2007 season and the Buckeyes have a 0-4 record in tourney action. All four losses have been at the hands of Penn State, three in the quarterfinal round. In 2009, Ohio State had a bye in the quarterfinals and fell to the Nittany Lions in the semifinals. Vanderbilt will be the first team other than Penn State the Buckeyes have faced in the ALC Tourney.

Four members of the 18th-ranked Ohio State women's lacrosse team earned spots on the All-ALC First or Second Team, announced Tuesday by the conference as it prepares for the ALC Tournament beginning Thursday in Nashville. Alayna Markwordt headlines the list of honorees as the Buckeyes' lone representative on the first team, while Gabby Capuzzi, Lindsey Gysin and Brittney Zerhusen all make an appearance on the second team.

Kirsten Donahue and Annie Carruthers each earned the final American Lacrosse Conference Player of the Week honors of the season at their respective positions after leading the Buckeyes over Johns Hopkins, 19-12, in the regular-season finale last weekend. It is the first honor for both this season. 
       Earning Defensive POW accolades, Carruthers tallied 13 saves in the win over then-No. 20 Blue Jays. The Columbus, Ohio, native had nine in the second half alone, thwarting the Blue Jays' efforts at a late-game comeback. This is the third contest in a row Carruthers has tallied more than 10 saves and the fifth this season with double-digit stops. Donahue picked up the Offensive POW recognition after scoring a career-high five goals in Ohio State's win over Hopkins. The junior midfielder paced the Buckeyes with a pair of scores as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead to start the contest before adding three more in the second half in the 8-2 OSU run which quickly put the game out of reach. She added a game-high five ground balls while controlling three draws and causing three turnovers.

The Buckeyes are led in scoring by junior Alayna Markwordt and senior Brittney Zerhusen. Markwordt has a team-high 70 points off 47 goals and 23 assists, while Zerhusen is just a step behind with 42 goals as well with 22 assists for 64 points. Annie Carruthers has started all 15 games between the pipes and has a 10.25 goals-against average with a .455 save percentage on 312 shots faced. On the draw, Gabby Capuzzi and Jayme Beard are the forces to be reckoned with, securing 42 and 41 draws, respectively.
     Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the Buckeyes enter the ALC Tournament with a 9-6 record after victories against American (16-4), St. Bonaventure (19-4), Canisius (23-7), Notre Dame (13-8), California (16-4), Louisville (15-11), Vanderbilt (16-15), Detroit (26-3) and Johns Hopkins (19-12). The team has outscored opponents 164-69 in games won and average 14.23 goals per game in all contests this season, good for 10th in the country.

Ohio State maintains its national ranking for the fourth-consecutive week, coming in at No. 18 in the IWLCA/Under Armour Poll, released Monday, up one spot from a week ago. Five of six ALC teams hold onto spots in the Top 20, with Northwestern leading the way at No. 3, followed by Florida at No. 4. Penn State (No. 17) and Vanderbilt (No. 19) sandwich Ohio State in 17th-place. Hopkins fell out of the Top 20 following the loss to the Buckeyes last weekend.

In the second set of Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings released by the NCAA last week, Ohio State moved from No. 13 to No. 16. All six ALC teams are in the Top 21 with Northwestern and Florida holding the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, respectively, while Penn State comes in ninth and Vanderbilt owns the No. 14 spot. Hopkins rounds out the conference teams at No. 21. Updated RPI figures are expected to be released Thursday morning.

The Buckeyes have dominated in the center circle this season. They are second in the ALC and fourth in the nation with 15.4 per game. Ohio State has out-drawn its opponents in all but three games this season, winning 58 percent (231-396) this season.

As just a junior, Alayna Markwordt holds the No. 3 position in all-time scoring at Ohio State with 215 career points. She also is third in goals (135) and assists (80). Kelly Haggerty, a letterwinner in 2007-10, holds the top spot in points with 243 and shares the lead in goals with Megan Mirick (1999-2003) with 143. Kristen Slahor is the Buckeyes' all-time leader in assists with 139 to her credit during the 2005-08 seasons. Marwordt has tallied at least one goal or assist in 46-consecutive games, dating back to March 1, 2009.
     In addition to the records Markwordt is poised to take over, Brittney Zerhusen is second on the team in goals (42), assists (22) and points (62) and stands in fifth-place all-time in career scoring at Ohio State with 183 points. In addition, she is fourth in career goals (127).Gabby Capuzzi is tied for third all-time in draw controls (105), while Annie Carruthers is third in saves (342).

Heading into the tournament, Ohio State boasts the second-ranked offense in the American Lacrosse Conference, scoring 14.23 goals per game, a mark which stands as 10th in the nation. As a team, Ohio State also is in a high national position in draws (No. 4) with 15.4 per game to its credit, as well as scoring defense (No. 29; 9.99 GAA).
      Individually, Alayna Markwordt and Brittney Zerhusen are second and fourth in the ALC and fifth and 14th in the NCAA by contributing 4.67 and 4.27 points per game. They hold the third and fourth positions within the conference in goals per game (17 and 23 in NCAA), while Markwordt also is third in the league and 27th in the country with 1.53 assists per game. Kirsten Donahue is ranked fourth in the conference in caused turnovers (1.13 per game), while Gabby Capuzzi and Jayme Beard also are among the conference leaders as the duo holds fourth and fifth, respectively, in the ALC in draw controls with 42 and 41 on the season.

The Commodores enter Thursday at 8-7 on the season, 1-4 in the ALC and ranked 19th in the Monday edition of the IWCLA poll, their 11th-consecutive week ranked in the Top 25 this season. Two Vanderbilt players - Courtney Kirk and Emily Franke - have more than 40 points this season, with Kirk leading the way with 23 goals and 27 assists for 50 points. Franke (26g, 17a) is not far behind, with the team's leading goal scorer, Katherine Denkler, coming in at No. 4 in team points with 32. Ally Carey and Kirk were named All-ALC honorees this week. Carey was selected as a first-team honoree for the second season in a row, while Kirk was named to the league's second team for the first time.

The Buckeyes are 3-13 all-time vs. Vanderbilt, capturing the regular-season meeting earlier this season in Columbus. Brittney Zerhusen tallied 10 points off five goals and five assists as Ohio State upset No. 14 Vanderbilt, 17-16, April 10. Zerhusen's 10 points tie her career high and stand as fourth all-time in single-game points by a Buckeye. She led all five Buckeye goal scorers on the day, with Alayna Markwordt also scoring five, Gabby Capuzzi adding four, Jacqueline Orona two and Lindsey Gysin had her first of the season. Capuzzi won a game-high five draw controls and added three caused turnovers to her defensive totals.

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 last Saturday. 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.

Seniors Maghan Beaudrault and Annie Carruthers, along with junior Gabby Capuzzi, are captains for the 2011 season. In addition to being mainstays in the starting lineup through much of their careers, each of the three has made at least one appearance on the Academic All-Big Ten and OSU Scholar-Athlete lists.

Head coach Alexis Venechanos is wrapping up her first season as head coach of the Buckeyes after taking over the role July 1, 2010. She brought four years of head coaching experience to Columbus from UMass and is joined on the sidelines by assistant coaches Christy Finch and Amanda Belichick.