The 17th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes men’s lacrosse team notched a solid, 12-6 win over the Paladins of Furman in Columbus to open the 2017 regular season.
It was a slow start for the Buckeyes, as Furman controlled the opening faceoff and scored just under two minutes into the opening quarter. Furman continued to control the ball early, winning the ensuing faceoff and getting two more quick shots off before Ohio State gained possession and took the ball on offense. The Buckeyes missed their first seven shots of the game and had three turnovers before they finally found the back of the net with 4:38 left in the first quarter on a goal by true freshman midfielder Tre Leclaire, who was one of the top-rated freshmen in the country entering the season. From there, the Buckeyes managed to hit their stride on offense. Senior attackman J.T. Blubaugh scored less than two minutes later to put Ohio State up 2-1 at the end of the opening quarter.
Ohio State did not let up as they controlled the opening faceoff of the second quarter and scored twice in the first three minutes on goals by senior midfielder Johnny Pearson and senior attackman Austin Shanks to go up three on Furman. Despite a Furman score with 10:14 left in the first half, the Buckeyes continued to grow their lead on goals from Pearson and, 19 seconds later, junior defenseman Freddy Freibott. Pearson then added his third goal of the half with 5:40 remaining in the quarter, putting Ohio State up 7-2 and causing Furman to change their goalie. Furman added a goal late in the second quarter to bring the score to 7-3 at the break.
Pearson continued his hot start early in the third quarter, scoring his fourth goal of the game 42 seconds into the second half. Ohio State controlled the ball on offense for the next few minutes, but Furman scored next halfway through the quarter to draw within four once again. After several shots by both sides, Leclaire found the back of the with 3:44 left in quarter for his second goal of the game. Freshman midfielder Ryan Terefenko added one more goal with 48 seconds left to give the Buckeyes a 10-4 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Furman scored 1:06 into the final quarter to pull within five, but senior midfielder Tyler Pfister found the net shortly thereafter to put the Buckeyes up six once again. The teams traded possession of the ball until Furman added a goal midway through the fourth following a turnover by goalie Tom Carey. Sophomore attackman Lukas Buckley returned the favor for the Buckeyes to maintain their strong lead. Ohio State held onto the ball for much of the rest of the game to ice Furman for their 12-6 victory.
Despite their slow start on faceoffs (senior faceoff specialist Jake Withers did not win a faceoff until the end of the first quarter), the Buckeyes found their edge and controlled possession for much of the remainder of the game. True freshman specialist Christian Feliziani entered the game in the second quarter and began trading off faceoff duties with Withers, winning 6-of-8 in the second quarter to turn things around quickly. They finished the game winning 13-of-22 faceoffs.
Pearson, who led Ohio State with 20 goals on the season last year, also led the Buckeyes in scoring with four goals on the day. Shots on goal were 21-17 in favor of Ohio State, with Carey notching 11 saves on the day.
In many ways, this game showed what the future of Ohio State lacrosse could be, both this season following the loss of attackman Carter Brown to the MLL Draft and beyond. Though no freshmen started the game, Leclaire and Terefenko’s three combined goals show the kind of offensive firepower that can be developed over the course of the season, and Feliziani’s faceoff ability will be an incredible asset next year.
Furman, who opened the season with an overtime loss to Vermont, falls to 0-2 on the year and will face top-ranked North Carolina next week. Ohio State moves to 1-0 on the season and faces Detroit next at home Saturday, Feb. 11 at noon.