Ohio State women’s lacrosse is living up to the term “home field advantage.”
The Buckeyes defeated No. 14 Vanderbilt, 17-16, in an American Lacrosse Conference matchup on Sunday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The win pushes OSU’s overall record to 7-4, including 1-1 within the ALC and a 4-1 tally at home. It is their fifth win in the past six games.
OSU coach Alexis Venechanos said being at home allows for more practice time and the ability to focus on various game situations.
“Being able to get extra practice here at home is nice,” she said. “Our intensity in practice has been very gamelike.”
Senior attacker Brittney Zerhusen led the way for the Buckeyes, scoring five goals and assisting on five scores. Junior midfielder Alayna Markwordt provided five goals and one assist for the Scarlet and Gray.
The ability of the offense to work together and create opportunities was the reason for the success, Zerhusen said. She also said that everyone has the potential to have a big game.
“Today I got some points. Tomorrow it could be any of us,” she said. “We are a team unit.”
The game was filled with multiple scoring runs and momentum shifts. Zerhusen said the team was able to maintain focus because of attention to game situations in practice.
“We were prepared for this,” she said. “Even though they had their comebacks and spurts, we knew that we had to work hard to pull it out.”
The Commodores (7-6, 1-3 ALC) jumped out to early 1-0 lead when junior attacker Hannah Clark scored on the game’s first possession. The Buckeyes responded quickly as Markwordt scored 40 seconds later, shedding her defender with a spin move for the unassisted goal.
After another Vanderbilt goal, OSU scored three straight times in a span of less than one minute. Junior midfielder Gabby Capuzzi began the flurry with her first of four goals and Zerhusen capped the run with two of her three consecutive goals for the Buckeyes.
The trio of Capuzzi, Markwordt and Zerhusen ignited another three-goal run to close out the first half with OSU up, 9-5.
To start the second half, three was the lucky number again for the Buckeyes, as two goals by Markwordt and one from Capuzzi stretched the lead to 12-5. The Commodores countered with a four-goal run of their own, cutting the deficit to 12-9 with just more than 17 minutes to play.
After Venechanos called a timeout in an attempt to slow down the Vanderbilt run, the Buckeyes reclaimed control of the game and pushed their lead to 14-9 with a goal by senior midfielder Jacqueline Orona and the fourth goal by Capuzzi. But the advantage would be short-lived as three straight goals by the Commodores made the score 14-12 with less than 11 minutes left.
The Buckeyes delivered the next two blows to extend their lead to four, but another three-goal outburst brought the Commodores within one for the first time since the five-minute mark of the first half. The back-and-forth action continued as Orona’s second score was quickly answered, making it a 17-16 OSU lead with three minutes left in the game.
With Vanderbilt on the attack, senior goalie Annie Carruthers made a key save to return possession to the Buckeyes. They maintained ball control and ran out the final two and a half minutes to secure the win.
“We’ve been working on those end-of-game scenarios,” coach Venechanos said. “I was proud we were actually able to handle it.”
The Buckeyes have been gaining support in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Coaches Poll in recent weeks, and this win may push them into the top-20 for the first time this season. Capuzzi said she hopes OSU enters the poll but that the team made a statement regardless.
“I think this game may put a target on our back, which I like,” she said. “It just fuels our fire.”