The 20th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes men’s lacrosse team built on its early season success with a narrow, 8-7 win over the Massachusetts Minutemen Saturday in Columbus. Ohio State now moves to 3-0 on the season. It was the Buckeyes’ first game at Ohio Stadium this season, having played its previous two matchups in the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex.
Senior specialist Jake Withers won the opening faceoff for Ohio State, and the Buckeyes quickly got two shots off before senior attackman Austin Shanks found the back of the net less than two minutes into the opening quarter. UMass answered quickly, when, after another two shots by Ohio State, the Minutemen successfully cleared and scored with 11:53 remaining in the first. Junior attackman Colin Chell put Ohio State back up two minutes later, but a penalty on the Buckeyes gave UMass a man-up opportunity which they capitalized on with a goal, tying things at two-all midway through the quarter. Senior midfielder Johnny Pearson responded with his first goal of the game, assisted by freshman midfielder Tre Leclaire, to give Ohio State the lead once again. However, the Minutemen tied the score at three-all, finding the back of the net with 10 seconds left in the first.
The two teams traded possessions for most of the second quarter, until UMass scored with 6:38 remaining in the half to gain their first lead of the game. Despite four shots on a single possession to end the half, the Buckeyes were shutout in an entire quarter of play for the first time this season.
Ohio State tied things back up early in the second half on a Leclaire goal, assisted by senior attackman Eric Fannell. But then the Minutemen scored two goals in less than a minute to take a 6-4 lead with 9:13 remaining in the third quarter. Undeterred, Pearson scored his second goal of the game to pull within one midway through the third, and Chell added a second goal of his own to bring the score to 6-6 with 2:35 remaining in the quarter.
With the game tied entering the final quarter, UMass scored to go up 7-6 with 11:46 remaining in the game. But senior midfielder J.T. Blubaugh, who was quiet last game against Detroit Mercy, scored his first goal of the game to give Ohio State the tie. Freshman defenseman Jeff Henrick, assisted by Withers, then capped off scoring for both teams 13 seconds later to give the Buckeyes an 8-7 edge that they would not relinquish with 10:39 left in the game.
Chell and Pearson led the Buckeyes in scoring with two goals each on the day. UMass outshot Ohio State 19-18, but Buckeye goalies recorded 12 saves to UMass’s 10. Senior goalie Tom Carey played just 15 minutes, with junior goalie Matthew Smidt coming in for the final three quarters and saving 11 shots on goal. Withers got back on track for faceoffs, winning 12-of-19 on the day while going solo (he had previously split time with freshman specialist Christian Feliziani). Ohio State had a 27-19 advantage in ground balls over UMass, with Withers recording a team-high 10.
UMass falls to 0-2 on the season and heads to Cambridge to play Harvard next week. Next up for the Buckeyes are the Dolphins of Jacksonville in Columbus--their final matchup in their four-game homestand before heading to Milwaukee to face Marquette.