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Ohio State’s men’s lacrosse team battles Cornell in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament

The Buckeyes were the last team selected for this year’s field, taking on Cornell in Sunday’s first round game.

Ohio State v Maryland Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Ohio State’s lacrosse team snuck into the NCAA Tournament as the last at-large team to make the field. Now, the Buckeyes will try and pull off some upsets and make a deep run in the tournament. The first team Ohio State will try and shock is Cornell, who won a share of the Ivy League regular season title this year.

This will be the second meeting between Ohio State and Cornell this year, with the Big Red taking the first meeting 14-11 on March 5 in Ithaca. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 3-0 in the game, but Cornell would score seven unanswered goals to take a 7-3 lead. Ohio State would regroup and tie the game at 10 early in the fourth quarter before the Big Red scored four of the last five goals in the contest. Ed Shean and Jason Knox both scored two goals for Ohio State, while Caton Johnson suffered his first loss of the season.

The Buckeyes enter the NCAA Tournament with a 10-5 overall record this season, posting a 3-2 record in Big Ten play. The last time Ohio State took the field was in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals against Rutgers last Thursday. After falling to the Scarlet Knights 18-7 earlier in the year, the Buckeyes played Rutgers tougher last week, losing 12-10. Ohio State held a 7-4 lead at halftime, but couldn’t make the lead stick, as six unanswered goals by the Scarlet Knights gave them the lead for good.

Ohio State comes into the NCAA Tournament with one of the most potent offenses in the country. The Buckeyes have already set a school record with 14 goals per game this season. If the Buckeyes can score 29 goals the rest of the year, they’ll set a single-season school record with 239 goals. Ohio State’s opponents this year have scored 171 goals against them in total this year.

Leading the way for Ohio State in scoring this year is Jackson Reid, who netted 46 goals. Even more incredible was Reid scored all those on just 72 shots on goal this season, which translates to a 70.6% scoring percentage. Following Reid is Colby Smith, scorer of 39 goals this year. Jack Myers scored 36 goals, while also adding a team-high 44 assists, which makes him Ohio State’s leading scorer with 80 points. Jason Knox added 24 goals during the year.

Ohio State saw a bit of a timeshare at goalie, with Skylar Wahlund seeing a little more action than Caton Johnson. Wahlund was in goal for 536 minutes this year, while Johnson was between the pipes for 363 minutes. Wahlund posted a 6-3 record with 11.86 goals allowed per game. Johnson was 4-2 with a 10.73 GAA when his number was called. Wahlund should see the start in the first game of the NCAA Tournament, but it should be reassuring for Ohio State to know that they can have confidence if Johnson is needed to play at any point.

Cornell enters the NCAA Tournament at 11-4, winning a share of the regular season title in the Ivy League before falling to Yale in the semifinals of the Ivy League Tournament. John Piatelli led the Big Red with 53 goals and 67 points. Five other Cornell players scored at least 10 goals with CJ Kirst being the Big Red’s next leading goalscorer, posting 42 scores this season.

Unlike Ohio State, who had Wahlund and Johnson sharing goalkeeping duties, Chayse Irelan started all 15 games for Cornell, going 9-4 and averaging 11.66 goals allowed per game. Irelan played 807:58 out of a possible 901:12 for Cornell this season. The senior goalkeeper made 11 saves when Cornell hosted the Buckeyes back in March.

Cornell will be trying to secure their fourth NCAA Tournament title in school history. If the Big Red go on to defeat the Buckeyes and eventually win it all, it would mark Cornell’s first national title since 1977. The last time Cornell made it to the championship game came back in 2009, as they eventually ended up losing to Syracuse.

On the other side, Ohio State is still looking for their first NCAA Tournament title. The only time the Buckeyes made the championship game was back in 2017, losing to Maryland 9-6. The tournament appearance was Ohio State’s last prior to learning they had earned an at-large bid earlier this week. This year’s appearance marks the fourth NCAA Tournament berth Ohio State has earned under head coach Nick Myers.

Should Ohio State defeat Cornell, the Buckeyes will get a boost heading into the next round, since two of the four quarterfinals games will be held at Ohio Stadium next Sunday. The winner of this Sunday’s game will go on to face either Georgetown, or the winner of the game between Robert Morris and Delaware, which was played on Wednesday evening.