GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Vanderbilt's 2012 lacrosse season came to a heart wrenching end Thursday night as the Commodores fell to No. 14 Ohio State, 10-9, in overtime of their American Lacrosse Conference Tournament quarterfinal matchup at Donald R. Dizney Stadium.
Needing to win the conference tournament to earn the ALC's first automatic qualification to the NCAA Tournament, Vanderbilt fought hard against the Buckeyes but came up just short. Vanderbilt Head Coach Cathy Swezey praised her team's effort.
"I have to tell you that my heart is actually bursting with pride because our team laid it on the line and that is what we ask of them every time we come out here," Swezey said. "It may have been the last game of our season, but we literally put 60 minutes into it and, actually, six more, so 66. They fought their tails off and we couldn't be more proud of the effort they put into it."
After going down 2-0 in the game's first four minutes, Vanderbilt scored four consecutive goals in a three-minute span to grab the lead. The Commodores would hold onto that lead for 45 minutes of game time before the Buckeyes were able to tie the score at 7-7 with 7:34 to play. At one point, Vanderbilt held OSU scoreless for more than 26 minutes
Only 31 seconds after the Buckeyes had tied the game, Vanderbilt again took the lead when senior Ally Carey scored her third goal of the game. VU was up 8-7 until OSU again tied the contest at 8-8 with 1:06 remaining. The Buckeyes won the ensuing draw control, but sophomore Brandi Byner caused an OSU turnover and the game headed into overtime.
In the extra period, the Buckeyes struck first when Alayna Markwordt tallied her fifth point of the game. But the Commodores would answer with just a minute left in the period. With Vanderbilt pressuring all over the field, senior Kelly Connors came up with a turnover and rifled a shot past the OSU keeper to tie the game at 9-9.
Ohio State had the game's final possession and ran the clock down to 12 seconds before taking a shot. Senior goalkeeper Natalie Wills saved the ball over the goal, but a foul call gave OSU a free position shot. Cara Facchina scored on the ensuing eight-meter attempt to send the Buckeyes through to face home standing Florida in the semifinals. OSU's last three goals all came on free positions.
Five draw controls by Carey and four from Pittinger helped give VU a 13-10 advantage in draws. Kelly Connors and junior Paige Cahill led the Dores with two caused turnovers each.
Wills made eight saves on the night, including two in overtime. Swezey highlighted the play of the entire senior class on this evening, and throughout their careers.
"I mean, you can't say enough [about these seniors]," Swezey said. "These girls came in with huge hearts and a lot of hope and determination to make this program a great one, and they have left their mark. It is always hard to go out on a losing note, but let's face it, only one team each year goes out on a winning note. We are proud of them and overall I think they are proud of themselves and that is the key."