COLUMBUS, Ohio – Brittney Zerhusen tallied 10 points off five goals and five assists as Ohio State upset No. 14 Vanderbilt, 17-16, Sunday afternoon at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes improve to 7-4 on the season and 1-1 in the ALC after winning five of their last six contests, while the Commodores dip to 7-6 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
“We’re happy to get our first ALC win of the season,” Alexis Venechanos, first-year Ohio State head coach said. “I think having that four or five-goal lead obviously helped us because we knew Vanderbilt would be able to put some goals on the board … I was proud of how we took advantage of our opportunities at the end of the game when we didn’t have the ball that much … but were able to close it out in the final two minutes. This was a great win.”
Zerhusen’s 10 points tie her career high and stand as fourth all-time in single-game points by a Buckeye. She led all five Buckeye goal scorers on the day, with Alayna Markwordt also scoring five, Gabby Capuzzi adding four, Jacqueline Orona two and Lindsey Gysin had her first of the season. Capuzzi won a game-high five draw controls and added three caused turnovers to her defensive totals.
This is the second victory over a Top 15-ranked opponent for the Buckeyes this season, after they knocked off then-No. 11 Notre Dame, 13-8, March 10. The last time Ohio State defeated a pair of ranked opponents in one season was 2009, when it took out Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt. Though the Buckeyes have captured two of the last three meetings with the Commodores, Vanderbilt still owns a commanding 13-3 advantage in the all-time series.
After the teams kept it within one or two for much of the first half, Capuzzi scored at 4:22 with an unassisted goal to give Ohio State a 7-5 lead and start a six-goal scoring spree that would end with the Buckeyes having their largest lead of the contest, 12-5, with 24:39 to play in the game. Markwordt and Zerhusen teamed up for three-consecutive goals in the stretch, each taking turns feeding off each other and eventually ending the game as the scoring tandem on four goals.
“We’ve been working a lot on our team offence and just getting each other open and working together really well in order to see different opportunities,” Zerhusen said after the game. “Today, I got some points and tomorrow, it could be any of us. The team is a unit and we have seven girls on the field who can score at any time.”
Vanderbilt began edging its way back into the contest with 22:54 to play, scoring four in a row and seven of the next nine goals of the game to pull back within two at 14-12, Ohio State. Gysin took that moment to score her first goal of the season, finishing off a pass from Zerhusen and setting up Zerhusen and Capuzzi to team up the score that gave Ohio State back the four-goal lead, 16-12, with 7:14 remaining.
“We just bring it together after a goal or after they score,” Capuzzi, a 2011 co-captain, said of keeping it together after a Vandy run. “Keep our confidence up and we have to stay poised. That starts with leaders on the field and bringing it in.”
The Commodores were not deterred, adding four goals in the final 6:37 of action, but the early Buckeye lead could not be overtaken as Ohio State earned its first win over a conference opponent since March 27, 2010, a 14-9 victory over Florida, a span of four ALC games.
Just like the score, the stat breakdown could not have been much closer. Vanderbilt held a 32-31 edge in shots and 21-19 advantage in groundballs, while Ohio State came out on top in the draw, 18-17. Both goalies – Annie Carruthers for Ohio State and Chelsea Pasfield for Vanderbilt – posted nine saves in their respective decisions.