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Ohio State women’s lacrosse team ends season short of NCAA Tournament

Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer

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The Ohio State women’s lacrosse team’s performance in the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., last weekend was not enough for the team to be selected for the NCAA Tournament field.

The chosen teams were announced Sunday night via Web stream on NCAA.com.

Coach Alexis Venechanos said the team was “a little bit on the bubble” that and a victory in the conference semifinals would have guaranteed the Buckeyes a spot in the national tournament.

Coming in as the No. 4 seed for the conference tournament, the Buckeyes knocked off fifth-seeded Vanderbilt, 14-13, in their quarterfinal matchup Thursday. However, OSU came up short against top-seeded Florida, falling to the Gators, 16-13, in the semifinals Friday afternoon.

“We controlled our own destiny,” Venechanos said. “That was an exciting opportunity.”

OSU fell behind early as the top-seeded Gators stormed out to a 5-0 lead just 10 minutes into the game. The Buckeyes trailed, 10-6, at the half.

After a 3-0 run by Florida to start the second half pushed the margin to 13-6, OSU gradually worked its way back into the game and brought the score to 14-12 with just less than nine minutes left. That was the closest the Buckeyes got as the Gators scored the next two goals and eventually punched their ticket to the championship game.

“It was just tough to overcome such a big lead,” Venechanos said.

In an interview on Wednesday prior to the ALC Tournament, Venechanos predicted that the two teams that met in the championship game would be selected to the NCAA field. Her projections were correct, as tournament champion Northwestern and runner-up Florida received the second and fourth seeds, respectively, for the national tournament. The Wildcats defeated the Gators, 10-9, in the championship game Saturday.

The 2011 Division-I Women’s Lacrosse Tournament consists of 16 teams: six from automatic bids from conference tournament champions, two predetermined play-in games and eight at-large bids. The ALC is not a part of the automatic bids or play-in games, so the Buckeyes’ only shot to be picked was through the at-large selection process.

Two of the main factors the selection committee uses in picking at-large teams are Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and strength of schedule. According to laxpower.com, OSU is ranked No. 17 in RPI and No. 16 in schedule difficulty. The Buckeyes also are ranked No. 18 in the latest Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association poll.

OSU finished its season at 10-7, including a 2-3 regular-season conference record. As her first season with the Buckeyes came to an end, Venechanos said the team started developing confidence toward the middle of the season and that playing in big games against teams like Florida and Northwestern will only make the team better going into next year.

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