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Ohio State field hockey’s season comes to an end against Old Dominion

The No. 15-seed Ohio State field hockey team fell short against No. 2-seed Old Dominion , 5-0, Saturday in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament in Norfolk, Va. The team is now looking to winter practice as its first chance to move forward from the disappointing end to its season.

Old Dominion controlled the ball for the majority of the opening-round tournament game, and OSU senior defender and captain Jenn Sciulli said she believed the team that ended her OSU career could be talented enough to win the whole tournament.

“They were just a really good team,” Sciulli said. “Hopefully they will win the whole tournament.”

The first-round loss ends an up-and-down season for the Buckeyes. OSU got off to a slow start, losing five of their first eight games, including a 2-0 loss to Old Dominion early in the season. The 2011 edition of the Buckeyes advanced to the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid, and they conclude their season with a 12-9 overall record, 4-2 in conference play.

“It was great the way our team persevered through the beginning of the season with hard work,” head coach Anne Wilkinson said. “They learned to trust each other.”

Sciulli headlined a list of five Buckeyes receiving yearly awards and was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-Big Ten.

“It is really an honor to receive this recognition from not just my coaches but the entire conference,” Sciulli said. “The award speaks for the efforts of my whole team.”

Sciulli finished the season leading the conference in defensive saves and is second in the nation in defensive stops.

Junior forwards Berta Queralt and Danica Deckard and sophomore midfielder Paula Pastor-Pitarque were named Second-Team All-Big Ten while senior goalkeeper Ally Tunitis was Ohio State’s Sportsmanship Award honoree.

Tunitis, a captain, holds the OSU career goals-against average record with 1.36 in her career.

The Buckeyes finished the regular season tied for second in the Big Ten standings and earned the No. 2-seed in the conference tournament,

After returning to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in program history, the loss was bitter, as they had expected to contend for the Big Ten Championship, but fell to a Penn State team in the conference tournament that they had previously beat, 2-0, on the road this season.

“Through the season we found a way to rebound from tough losses,” Tunitis said. “But this one was tough to overcome.”

Sciulli and Tunitis end their tenures donning the Scarlet and Gray, which will call for other players to step up for next season, Wilkinson said.

“This will give younger players a chance to put themselves in a position to play,” Wilkinson said. “We just need to keep working hard as soon as winter practices start.”

No. 2 Old Dominion will play Maryland this Friday in the Final Four. No. 1 North Carolina faces No. 4 Connecticut on the opposite side of the tournament bracket.

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