The No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes men’s lacrosse team earned a hard fought, 7-4 victory over the Loyola (Md.) Greyhounds Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Columbus. With the win, the Buckeyes, who earned an at-large bid to the tournament after finishing second in the Big Ten standings, have sealed their spot in the quarterfinals against Duke, who defeated Johns Hopkins Saturday in their first-round game.
Ohio State’s strong defensive performance once again proved to be the difference maker against Loyola. The Buckeyes allowed just over eight goals per game entering Sunday’s matchup, compared to the 12.93 that Loyola averages on offense. Strong play especially from senior goalie Tom Carey in the final quarter gave the Buckeyes a crucial edge.
Freshman midfielder Tre Leclaire started things off for Ohio State, scoring the first goal of the game midway through the first quarter. Junior attackman Colin Chell followed up Leclaire’s effort with a score of his own, assisted by an inside feed from sophomore midfielder Logan Maccani. The Buckeyes carried their 2-0 lead into the second quarter--the eighth time this season that the defense has held the opposition scoreless for a quarter.
The Greyhounds, however, found their offense early in the second quarter, drawing within one with 11 minutes remaining in the half. Ohio State answered on a goal by senior attackman Austin Shanks, assisted by fellow senior Eric Fannell. Loyola scored once more to stay within one heading into the break down 3-2.
Fannell scored his first goal of the game to open the third quarter, assisted by senior midfielder John Kelly. Loyola responded, but Leclaire added his second goal of the game to keep the Buckeyes’ lead at two, assisted by sophomore attackman Jack Jasinski. With yet another goal from the Greyhounds, Leclaire found the back of the net for his third goal of the game to give Ohio State a 6-4 lead heading into the final quarter.
In a quiet fourth quarter, Carey proved to be the difference maker, recording three saves to keep the Buckeyes on top of the ninth-best scoring team in the nation. Jasinski scored his first goal of the day with 12 seconds remaining in the game to put the Buckeyes up three and seal their victory.
In the low-scoring struggle. Carey led the team with a dozen saves on the day versus a team which normally averages just under 13 goals per game. The Greyhounds outshot the Buckeyes 44-22, with Ohio State shooting 11 shots on goal to Loyola’s 16.
Leclaire led the team in scoring with three goals on the day. In all, five Buckeyes scored against Loyola, with assists on four of the goals.
Next up, Ohio State will face Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament May 20 in Hempstead, New York.