The Ohio State Buckeyes men’s lacrosse team shocked the conference with a huge win over No. 16 Rutgers in Columbus in the team’s final game of the season. Despite key injuries in the midfield, the Buckeyes controlled the game more than the 12-10 final score would suggest.
Though Rutgers scored the first goal, the Scarlet Knights would only have the lead for just under two minutes in the first half, as the Buckeyes tied the game on a goal by attackman Ryan Hunter. Midfielder Johnny Pearson then scored his first goal of the day with 9:40 left in the first quarter to give Ohio State a lead that would not be relinquished. Attackmen J.T. Blubaugh and Colin Chell would tack on a pair of goals at the end of the quarter, but Rutgers would come back on a turnover by Ohio State with a score to close the deficit to two goals. The Buckeyes, however, would add another goal by attackman Austin Shanks to take a 5-2 lead to the second quarter.
With a dominant performance on faceoffs from midfielder Jake Withers, Rutgers did not win a single faceoff until the second quarter, giving the Buckeyes an edge in possession which they capitalized on with a goal by C``hell. Though the Scarlet Knights added two more goals early in the quarter, Pearson dropped two consecutive long-range goals on lengthy Ohio State possessions to give the Buckeyes an 8-4 halftime edge.
Despite winning the ensuing faceoff, Ohio State gave up a quick goal just 16 seconds into the third quarter. Rutgers began to find its footing on defense after the break, able to stop the Buckeyes more effectively on attack, but the Buckeyes would continue to control the faceoffs in the midfield, maintaining a 14-4 advantage through the third quarter. Pearson would answer with his fourth goal of the day to bring the score to 9-5, but with strong defensive performances on both sides, it would be nearly 10 minute scoring drought for both teams, which finally broke on a Rutgers goal with 2:52 remaining in the third quarter. Blubaugh then added his second goal of the game, but the Scarlet Knights would score with two seconds remaining in the quarter--the team’s first goal by an attackman in the game--to narrow the Buckeyes’ lead to three goals heading into the final quarter.
The two teams would trade goals throughout the fourth quarter, with Rutgers narrowing the Buckeyes’ lead to as little as two, but Ohio State’s attack managed to match the quick-score attack of Rutgers to hold them off. The Buckeyes controlled possession with a man-up situation with two minutes remaining in the game, and a save by goalie Tom Carey with 1:09 remaining effectively sealed the victory for Ohio State.
Pearson led the Buckeyes in scoring with four goals on the day, but both Blubaugh and Chell recorded hat tricks in the effort. Ohio State had 19 shots on goal to Rutgers’ 17, with Carey notching seven saves.
Having lost to Penn State, Ohio State will be shut out of the Big Ten Tournament next week, and will not make an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. With the win, the Buckeyes close out the 2016 season with a 7-8 overall record, going 2-3 in conference.