NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Annie Carruthers made 15 saves, including a crucial stop in the final seconds to preserve No. 18 Ohio State's lead, as the fourth-seeded Buckeyes defeated 19th-ranked and fifth-seeded Vanderbilt , 14-13, in the ALC Quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at the Vanderbilt Lacrosse Complex. The Buckeyes, who earned their first conference tournament win in five trips, improved to 10-6 on the season, while the Commodores conclude their 2011 campaign at 8-8.
Ohio State now will play top-seeded Florida at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. CT) Friday in the first ALC Semifinal contest. Second-seeded Northwestern will face the winner of No. 3 seed Penn State vs. No. 6 seed Johns Hopkins 30 minutes after in the second semifinal. The winners will face off at 2 p.m. (1 p.m. CT) Saturday in the ALC Championship.
Brittney Zerhusen led all scorers with five goals on the day, finishing with seven points, while Alayna Markwordt added six points off a trio of both goals and assists. A total of six OSU players tallied points on the day, including four who produced a combined eight assists on the team's 11 non-free position goals. Carruthers' performance in goal marks her fourth-consecutive game with 10 or more assists and her sixth double-digit save outing of the season.
The Buckeyes opened scoring at the 25:24 mark of the first half with an unassisted score by Markwordt and they would maintain the lead for the remainder of the contest. Ohio State built a 7-3 lead over the next 20 minutes, spearheaded by back-to-back scores from Jayme Beard and went on to close the half with a 9-4 advantage. Markwordt had all three assists in the opening period, the last coming on a Jacqueline Orona score with two seconds left until the break.
Coming out of the intermission, Vanderbilt rattled off five unanswered scores, including two from Katherine Denkler, who finished the day with a team-high tying three goals. Orona responded 1:30 later, however, finishing off a pass from Beard, and then providing her own assist to Zerhusen as the Buckeyes took a two-goal lead again, 11-9, with 21:06 on the clock.
Vandy's Courtney Kirk and Zerhusen battled it out over the next nine-plus minutes, each scoring a pair in the stretch, taking the teams down to the 10:59 mark and a 13-10 Buckeye lead. The Commodores closed out the game by tallying three of the final four goals of the contest, with Markwordt adding the final OSU score at 6:14, to trail by one with just under three minutes to play. They made two attempts to tie it up in the final 33 seconds, the last shot being saved by Carruthers and sent back into play with :16 on the clock.
Vanderbilt finished with a 35-25 advantage in shots, a 24-17 margin in groundballs and a narrow 15-14 lead in draw controls. Carruthers' counterpart Chelsea Pasfield made seven saves in the loss.
Thursday marked the first ALC Tournament win for Ohio State in its five years of existence. The Buckeyes had previously lost their first game of the tourney to Penn State the last four years. They are 0-1 all-time in semifinal action, last competing in 2009 after finishing second in the ALC and earning a quarterfinal-round bye, falling to the Nittany Lions 11-7 May 1 in University Park, Pa.
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