Like the strings of a guitar, the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team was plucked and pulled, but would not snap as it held off host Vanderbilt, 14-13, in the quarterfinals of the American Lacrosse Conference Tournament on Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.
It is the Buckeyes’ first conference tournament win in the five-year history of the tournament, and their second one-goal victory against the Commodores this season. OSU defeated Vanderbilt, 17-16, in their April 10 regular-season matchup in Columbus.
Senior attacker Brittney Zerhusen led the Buckeyes with seven points, netting five goals and assisting on two others. Annie Carruthers refused to relinquish the lead, as the senior goalie recorded 15 saves, including a clutch stop on a shot from Vanderbilt junior Courtney Kirk with 16 seconds remaining in the contest.
Carruthers said the defensive plan set out during a timeout shortly before that play worked perfectly as the Buckeye defense forced Kirk to take a tough shot.
“I had a good idea of where she was going to shoot,” Carruthers said.
OSU coach Alexis Venechanos commended Carruthers’ play.
“Annie came up huge this game,” Venechanos said. “She is definitely a leader for this team.”
OSU led, 9-4, at halftime, but a 5-0 Commodores run tied the score just minutes into the second half. The Buckeyes regained the lead shortly thereafter, never allowing Vanderbilt to level the score for the remainder of the game.
“I was very proud the way we were able to close the game out,” Venchanos said. “It showed a lot of character.”
The fourth-seeded Buckeyes will play top-seeded Florida in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Friday. The Gators are ranked fourth in the latest Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association poll, while the Buckeyes are ranked 18th.
Florida topped OSU, 10-8, when the teams met for their regular-season contest in Gainesville, Fla., on March 26. During that game, the Buckeyes trailed, 7-0, before fighting back to lose by just two goals.
Venechanos said the team adjusted and handled Florida’s speed well during its comeback attempt in that game and that it is better prepared to face the Gators this time around.
“We’re excited to move on, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to play a great Florida team,” she said.
Carruthers said the previous game with the Gators sparked a “passion” in the team and that it is looking forward to the rematch.
“We definitely had a chance in that (March 26) game,” she said. “From that point on we have been wanting to play them again.”
In the other half of the ALC Tournament bracket, third-seeded Penn State knocked off fifth seed Johns Hopkins. The Nittany Lions will square off against second-seeded Northwestern in the semifinals Friday.