COLUMBUS, Ohio – Sunday in Ohio Stadium, the No. 18-ranked Ohio State men’s lacrosse team downed No. 1-ranked Denver, 16-7, to improve to 9-0 this season. The Buckeyes used a 10-goal run, while holding Denver scoreless for nearly 40 minutes, for the win.
Ohio State had goals from seven players, led by freshman Tre Leclaire with five and seniors Johnny Pearson and Eric Fannell with three each. Fannell had four assists, with Leclaire setting up two goals, to give each a seven-point game. Junior Colin Chell had three assists and four points, while senior JT Blubaugh (2g, 1a) and freshman Ryan Terefenko (1g, 2a) each had three-point outings. Senior Jake Withers won 10 faceoffs and classmate Tom Carey had 11 saves in the Buckeye cage. Ohio State caused seven turnovers and had the advantage in groundballs, 33-18.
As the final nonconference home game for the Buckeyes this season, the 11 members of the senior class were recognized pregame: Lucas Bailey, JT Blubaugh, Tom Carey, Nick Doyle, Eric Fannell, John Kelly, Bryan Lichtenauer, Johnny Pearson, Tyler Pfister, Austin Shanks and Jake Withers.
The win was the Buckeyes’ second consecutive over a Top 10 team, after downing No. 10 Towson Wednesday on the road. Ohio State returns to the road for a 2 p.m. game at No. 4 Notre Dame Saturday.
— Ohio State Men's LAX (@OhioState_MLAX) March 20, 2017
Against Denver, Ohio State opened the scoring on a goal by Leclaire 1:16 into the game and the Pioneers answered just over a minute later on a goal by Tyler Pace. Denver was assessed a penalty 25 seconds after its goal and the Buckeyes converted, with Pearson scoring off an assist from Leclaire to put the Buckeyes ahead at 11:50.
Just 10 seconds later Ohio State scored again, with Fannell finishing a fast break assisted by Terefenko. At 4:26 Colin found Pearson for a goal and 4-1 Buckeye lead. With time winding down in the first quarter and the shot clock on for the Buckeyes, Blubaugh converted, scoring off a pass from classmate Tyler Pfister, for a 5-1 Buckeye advantage after 15 minutes. Carey had three saves in the cage for the Buckeyes, as OSU outshot DU, 9-8.
The Buckeyes notched the only three goals of the second quarter, with each team taking seven shots. Leclaire had back-to-back goals, scoring man-up off an assist from Chell at 9:38 and assisted by Fannell at 5:34. Chell scored a goal of his own with a second remaining in the quarter. He caught a ball in the air as it was coming out of Blubaugh’s stick, turned and scored, putting the Buckeyes up 8-1 at halftime.
The Buckeyes scored the three goals of the third quarter to push the lead to 11-1. At 10:42 Fannell notched another transition goal set up by Terefenko and at 8:33 Leclaire scored his fourth of the day, assisted by Blubaugh. Just over a minute later (7:28) Chell found Fannell for a goal.
Denver ended its scoreless streak at 39:34 when Connor Cannizzaro scored a man-down goal at 2:54 of the third. Leclaire got on the scoreboard again in the final minute, converting off a pass from Austin Shanks with 26 seconds left in the third for a 12-2 Buckeye lead. Each team’s goalie had three saves in the third quarter. Ohio State had 12 shots in the third, limiting Denver to just four.
The teams combined for nine goals in the fourth quarter for the 16-7 final. Ohio State tallied the first when Terefenko scored a goal of his own at 12:18, set up by Fannell. Denver had the next two, at 12:09 and 11:57, but the Buckeyes responded with three in a row. Shanks scored man-up at 10:31, assisted by Leclaire. Fannell set up two goals in a row, with Blubaugh scoring at 9:05 and Pearson completing his hat trick with an EMO goal at 5:16. Denver scored the game’s final three goals, at 3:33, 2:01 and 1:30. Carey had another three saves in the stanza.
Ohio State won the groundball battle, 33-18, including 8-1 in the third quarter. Buckeye senior Jake Withers won 10-of-24 faceoffs and had four groundballs. Junior Freddy Freibott picked up five groundballs and had a caused turnover, while Ben Randall had two caused turnovers and three groundballs. Sophomore Logan Maccani also forced two turnovers and had three groundballs.
Shots were 35-31 in favor of the Buckeyes. Carey played 57:59 and had 11 saves, allowing six goals, including just two in the first 45 minutes. He now has a 5.49 goals-against average, ranking among the NCAA’s leaders, and .619 save percentage, along with a 6-0 record. Nick Doyle closed out the game for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeye man-up unit was 4-for-7, while holding the Pioneers scoreless on four of five chances.
— Ohio State Men's LAX (@OhioState_MLAX) March 19, 2017
Noting the Buckeyes
• The win was the Buckeyes’ first over a Top 3 ranked team since defeated Denver 13-11 March 14, 2015.
• Ohio State has held its opponents to eight or fewer goals in all but one game and is allowing just 6.67 goals per game, among the best in the NCAA.
• The Buckeyes’ 9-0 start is the second best in program history, behind only the 14-0 undefeated season by the 1966 squad.
• Leclaire leads the Buckeyes with 18 goals this season and is second with 24 points. He has at least one point in each of his first nine collegiate games, with a goal in all but one (and multiple points in seven). The five goals, two assists and seven points were all career highs.
• Fannell is on an eight-game point streak and has a goal in each of his last six games. He is first on the team with 17 assists and 30 points. It was his fourth game with five or more points this year.
• Withers has won 98-of-153 faceoffs (.641) this season, and has a team-high 57 groundballs.
• Pearson had his second game with three or more goals this season. He is second on the squad with 14 goals.