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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - On Monday afternoon after the Commodores name was called during the selection show, head coach Darren Ambrose thanked the crowd that gathered in the football team room for the watch party but had one message for his team before they left, `It is time to get back to work'.
The Commodores have done just that with two spirited practices since selection Monday in preparation for their first round match with No. 4 seed Ohio State.
"Tuesday and Wednesday have been incredible, two of the best practices we have had," said Ambrose. "There is a genuine sense of belief and excitement for the game Friday and it has showed in the way we have practiced both days."
The Dores are getting ready for their first tournament experience in over a decade and they will face the Buckeyes who won the regular season crown in the Big Ten.
With the exception of a few transfers, a majority of the roster has not competed in the NCAA tournament before but Ambrose feels they have the right mentality knowing that their next game could be the last of the season.
"It is an interesting stage for them," said Ambrose. "The younger players aren't fully aware, this is the first time and they know that but I don't think they know what it is like to not to it which is good because I want this to become normal for them. I have to believe in listening to them and watching them play, they want to win as badly as they have wanted to win all year. I think they are ready to go, there is an excited and an edge to them that is really positive right now."
Scouting the Buckeyes:
Ohio State enters the NCAA Tournament with a 15-4-1 record and finished the regular season 9-2 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes claimed their first regular season Big Ten title after being selected to finish eighth in the preseason poll. In the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes fell to eventual champions Penn State in the semifinals 1-0 in double overtime.
Sammy Edwards leads the Buckeyes in goals (10) and points (25) while Nikki Walts holds the team lead in assists (9). Devon Kerr has started all 20 games in net for the Buckeyes. She has made 61 saves on the year and has a 0.56 goals against average.
Vanderbilt and Ohio State will be meeting for the first time in school history Friday night. The two teams do have a common opponent this season in Indiana. The Dores lost to the Hoosiers 1-0 back on Sept. 1 while the Buckeyes beat Indiana 2-1 in the regular season finale on Oct. 25.
Friday's match is set for a 5 pm CT start at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Fans can purchase tickets above or at the gate 90 minutes prior to kick. Ticket prices are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors/children.