The Ohio State Buckeyes men’s lacrosse team fell by a score of 9-6 to the Maryland Terrapins in Foxboro Monday in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship. It was the Buckeyes’ first trip to the finals compared to Maryland’s fifth in seven seasons, and was Maryland’s first championship since 1975.
Ohio State, who entered the tournament as the No. 3-overall seed, came back from a five-goal deficit Saturday to defeat unseeded Towson to earn their spot on the title game. Meanwhile Maryland, the top-seed in the tournament, headed into the matchup the winners of Saturday’s game against five-seeded Denver.
This was the third meeting of the season between Ohio State and Maryland. During the regular season, the Buckeyes rallied from a five-goal deficit, ultimately defeating the Terps in overtime. And in the Big Ten Championship, the Terps notched a narrow, one-goal victory to take the title.
Ohio State won the opening faceoff on a violation by Maryland, but a shot by freshman attackman Lukas Buckley was saved by the Terps. After a Maryland possession, senior midfielder John Kelly forced a turnover by Maryland’s first-team All-American midfielder Connor Kelly. Sophomore midfielder Logan Maccani picked up the groundball and took the ball on attack for the Buckeyes, where senior attackman Austin Shanks found the back of the net, putting Maryland behind for the first time in the postseason.
Maryland won the ensuing faceoff and attempted to take the ball right down and score. They missed wide, and Ohio State regained possession after being closest to the ball when it went out of bounds. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes did not capitalize. On the next Maryland possession, Ohio State forced an errant pass that resulted in an over-and-back violation and gave the ball back to the Buckeyes. Maryland forced a turnover on a triple-team on senior midfielder Johnny Pearson, but the Buckeyes got the ball back once again on a loose ball violation. After several quick shots by the Buckeyes, Maryland ultimately regained possession and, after a penalty on freshman midfielder Tre Leclaire, scored just as their man-up opportunity ended.
Senior specialist Jake Withers gained possession for Ohio State on the next faceoff. After a timeout, sophomore attackman Jack Jasinski set a pick on the goal line extended, allowing junior attackman Colin Chell to find a shot from the corner to give the Buckeyes the lead. Junior defenseman Freddy Freibott scooped up the ground ball on the next faceoff to give Ohio State possession on attack. After a poor shot by senior attackman Eric Fannell, however, Maryland regained the ball and scored to tie things back up at two-all with the Ohio State defense caught off-guard.
Ohio State won the next faceoff on another violation by Maryland and Withers took the ball on attack, but Maryland came away with the ball on a poor feed by Leclaire to senior midfielder J.T. Blubaugh. Connor Kelly then rounded the goal and scored to give Maryland its first lead of the day at 3-2 heading into the second quarter.
And that’s when Maryland began to truly assert itself on both sides of the ball. Maryland won the opening faceoff of the second quarter and, after a 2:23 minute possession, came from behind the goal and scored. Even with strong defense and multiple shots saved by senior goalie Tom Carey, the Buckeyes ultimately were not able to hold the Terps’ attack. Ohio State won the ensuing draw, but turned the ball over on an errant pass. Maryland then scored once again--their fifth score in five possessions.
After a timeout by Ohio State, Maryland won the subsequent faceoff, and the two teams traded possessions. Just as he did against Towson, Carey came up strong on several occasions to keep the Terps from scoring, but the attack couldn’t find its rhythm on the other side of the field as the Buckeyes could not capitalize on a man-up opportunity, With several turnovers and stout play by Maryland’s defense, the Terps held the Buckeyes scoreless for more than 20 minutes at the end of the first half.
Maryland won the second half faceoff on a violation by Withers and took the ball on attack. Carey managed a save, however, and Ohio State got the ball briefly before Jasinski committed a turnover. After another long possession by Maryland on attack, Carey saved a goal once again, and junior Ben Randall, Ohio State’s first-team All-American defenseman, picked up the ground ball and cleared the ball to the attack, leading to a Maccani goal to pull the Buckeyes within two and break a nearly 30-minute scoring drought.
Maryland won the next faceoff, but could not capitalize on a lengthy possession, as Carey made a save and junior midfielder Bo Lori cleared the ball out to the attack. Once again, however, the Buckeye offense couldn’t get going and, after a shot by Buckley, Maryland regained possession and scored to keep their lead at three heading into the final quarter.
After two early scores by Maryland, all hope seemed lost for the Buckeyes, who really never had possession on attack for nearly the first five minutes of the quarter. That’s when Withers, after winning the ensuing faceoff, took the ball down himself on attack and scored to narrow Maryland’s lead to four. Then, after forcing several 30-second clock violations on Maryland, Leclaire finally found the back of the net for his first score of the game. The Terps won the next faceoff, but the Ohio State defense blocked a shot and regained possession. After quick shots by Fannell and Leclaire, Pearson scored on an assist by Leclaire to draw within two.
Withers won the subsequent faceoff, but Leclaire couldn’t connect on his shot. Maryland got the ball back on attack and scored to extend their lead to three with 59 seconds remaining in the game. After winning the next faceoff, the Terps were able to hold the ball on attack while the clock ran to zero.
Six different Buckeyes contributed to the team’s scoring on the day, with just one team assist.
Carey had 13 saves on 22 shots on goal, while Maryland had 11 saves on 17 attempts. Overall shots were 41-25 in favor of the Terps.
Withers won just eight-of-19 faceoff attempts on the day, but led the Buckeyes with seven of the team’s 25 groundballs.
The end result was certainly not what the Buckeyes were hoping for, but this season was a monumental one for the Ohio State men’s lacrosse program. This team is the winningest group in program history, with 16 wins on the season. The weekend also saw a program-record six players taken in the Major League Lacrosse Draft. And, while the Buckeyes didn’t come away with a championship, it was the program’s first trip to the finals, where they played a very good and highly-experienced Maryland team close.
The Buckeyes are losing a lot of talent heading into next season, but , like Maryland, the team remaining can now learn from their experience in the finals and facing the toughest competition that college lacrosse has to offer.