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Ohio State fall sports wrap

Joe Podelco / Lantern Photographer

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It was a down year for the Buckeye fall sports teams, with no Big Ten championships won by any squad. However, the teams secured five NCAA tournament bids this season with women’s volleyball still in contention.

Women’s field hockey and men’s soccer ended the regular season with the best conference success, narrowly missing out on first place and securing second in the Big Ten.

Despite the overall lack of championship success, the Buckeyes earned several high individual honors and each team had its own season highlights.

Men’s soccer

For the first time since 2006, the Ohio State men’s soccer team was not a part of the NCAA tournament.

Junior midfielder Chris Hegngi and senior defender David Tiemstra headlined a list of eight OSU players who received Big Ten awards; Hegngi and Tiemstra were named the conference’s best offensive and defensive player, respectively.

Tiemstra and Hegngi were named First-Team All-Big Ten while senior forward Parnell Hegngi, junior midfielder Austin McAnena and junior goalkeeper Matt Lampson earned second-team honors.

The Buckeyes finished with an overall 10-7-2 record, 4-2 in the Big Ten, placing second behind Northwestern.

After losing to Northwestern on Oct. 9, a regular season conference championship seemed unlikely as the team sat at 7-5-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

Coach John Bluem said the game was “one of the worst performances by an OSU team in (his) 15 years here.”

The team responded, going 3-0-1 in its next four contests to put itself in a position to win the title in its final regular season game.

OSU was not up to the task as they fell to Indiana on the road, 1-0.

“It was certainly a disappointment to come away without a win and not win the championship outright,” Bluem said in a press release. “But it was definitely a difficult task at hand.”

OSU had won the Big Ten tournament the last four years, but the team was defeated by Penn State in the first round of the tournament, ending its season.

Women’s soccer

At first glance the OSU women’s soccer team’s final regular season record of 10-8-1 and subsequent first-round loss in the Big Ten tournament doesn’t seem like anything too special. However, it was a couple of program milestones and an unlikely run in the NCAA tournament that made the 2011 season memorable.

The Buckeyes received a bid to the national tournament, albeit one the team and coach Lori Walker did not expect to receive, and collected upset victories against Tennessee and Milwaukee to advance to the Sweet Sixteen to play Duke, the top-seeded team in the region.

OSU led the Blue Devils, 1-0, at halftime, but two second-half goals by Duke ended the Buckeyes’ tournament run.

“This team found a second life and made something of it,” Walker said following the loss. “We always said we wanted to advance until we met a team that is playing better than us … I give credit to our seniors for leading us to be here and we’ve got nothing to be disappointed about.”

The 2011 senior class tied last year’s class as the winningest four-year group in program history with 51 victories. The Buckeyes also recorded program win No. 200 on Sept. 23 at home against Illinois.

Field Hockey

The field hockey team ended its 2011 campaign with a 12-9 overall record and 4-2 mark in conference play.

By losing to Old Dominion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the team overcame its semifinal loss in the conference tournament to make the big dance in three consecutive seasons. This was the Buckeyes’ seventh appearance in the tournament, while six of them have been under 16-year head coach Anne Wilkinson.

The team was led by captain and First-Team All-Big Ten honoree Jenn Sciulli while forwards Berta Queralt, Danica Deckard and midfielder Paula Pastor-Pitarque were named Second-Team All-Big Ten selections.

The team strongly depended on its defense in many of its games. Goaltender and captain Ally Tunitis notched four shutouts on the season and now holds the single-season wins record for OSU goalkeepers.

The season was far from a failure due to the girls’ most notable win against No. 11 Michigan when they won, 2-1, in a thriller to kick off conference play. Tunitis described the win as the “most meaningful moment of the season.”

Women’s volleyball

The women’s volleyball team has yet to finish its season, as it will be making its way to Florida, Saturday and Sunday, for the Gainesville Regional to face the winner of Illinois and Marquette in the Sweet 16.

The team finished its regular season with an overall record of 21-14 and a conference record of 9-11.

The Buckeyes’ rollercoaster ride of a season sparked surprise at their tournament run, but a win over No. 14 Tennessee on Friday kept the girls’ season hopes alive.

Junior Mari Hole was the only Buckeye named a First-Team All-Big Ten honoree while Kelli Barhorst was named a Sportsmanship Award honoree.

Men’s cross-country

The OSU men’s cross-country team was without its No. 1 runner for most of the 2011 season. For most teams, losing a top runner would spell doom, but for the Buckeyes this season, it did not.

OSU qualified for the 2011 NCAA National Championships in Terra Haute, Ind., and finished 23rd out of 31 teams on Nov. 21 to conclude its season. The National Championship appearance was the third in five years for head coach Robert Gary and the Buckeyes.

Redshirt senior Jake Edwards, OSU’s top runner coming at the beginning of the year, suffered a hamstring injury at the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 30 and missed the rest of the season.

Led by junior Donny Roys and redshirt senior Taylor Williams, the Buckeyes were resilient.

Two weeks after losing Edwards, OSU ran at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 14. Among a field featuring 20 of the top 30 programs in the nation, the Buckeyes finished 17th.

The men went on to finish fifth at both the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 30 and NCAA Great Lakes Regionals on Nov. 12, and received an at-large berth to the NCAA National Championships.

Roys and Williams paced the way for the Buckeyes at the National Championship meet, placing 95th and 100th, respectively.

Gary said the 2011 season was one of his all-time favorites.

“I would have to say … (the 2011 team) was my third favorite team ever to have,” he said.

Women’s cross-country

The 2011 OSU women’s cross-country season has assistant coach Chris Neal optimistic for 2012.

The Buckeyes sent two runners to the 2011 NCAA National Championships in Terra Haute, Ind., on Nov. 21 as individual qualifiers, and finished sixth at the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals on Nov. 12.

Four of OSU’s top-five runners will return in 2012.

“(This season) is definitely a building block going forward,” Neal said.

Jordan Jennewine, the team’s lone senior, along with junior Tori Brink and freshman Nicole Hilton, led the Buckeyes this season.

A first-place finish at the Mountaineer Open in Boone, N.C., on Sept. 16 by both Jennewine and OSU as a team, started off the season on a high point.

Following a disappointing 38th-place finish at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational on Oct. 14, the Buckeyes failed to impress at the Big Ten Championships on Oct. 30, placing ninth as a team.

OSU sixth-place finish at the regional meet didn’t earn the team a bid to the NCAA National Championships, but Brink and Hilton were individual selections.

Brink and Hilton ran well again at the National Championship, finishi
ng near the top half of the field in 120th and 142nd place.

Golf

The OSU men’s golf team’s opened its autumn slate on a high note with its second consecutive and 19th team title overall in the 15-team Marshall Invitational, with senior Alex Redfield claiming the individual title.

The Buckeyes hit a bit of a rough patch after that, finishing in a tie for 10th out of 15 teams in the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational from Sept. 16-18 and earning a last-place 11th in a rain-shortened Inverness Intercollegiate Invitational on Sept. 27.

As the host team of the Jack Nicklaus Invitational from Oct. 10-11, OSU finished second out a field of 12 teams, placing higher than four Top 25 ranked teams. The Buckeyes concluded the season with a last-place performance in the 15-team Isleworth Collegiate Invitational from Oct. 23-25.

The OSU women’s golf team finished in third-place or better in all four autumn tournaments in which it played.

The Buckeyes opened the season with a runner-up performance in the 12-team Mary Fossum Invitational from Sept. 16-17 and recorded a third-place finish out of 15 teams in the Windy City Invitational from Oct. 3-4.

In the Lady Northern Invitational from Oct. 10-11, on the same course that the 2012 Big Ten championship will be played this spring, OSU finished second out of 12 teams. The Buckeyes concluded their fall slate by finishing third out of 18 teams in the Landfall Tradition from Oct. 28-30.

Both OSU golf teams will resume play in February.

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