It took nearly the entire first quarter, but once things got started for the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team they never looked back.
Trailing 2-1 in the opening quarter of their first round NCAA lacrosse tournament matchup against the Towson Tigers the No. 3 Buckeyes found their scoring touch, and scored 15 of the game’s final 19 goals on the way to a 16-6 victory.
The game, played in Ohio Stadium, was the first time the Buckeyes have hosted a home playoff game in program history. Senior midfielder Dominique Alexander said he understood the importance of the moment, and was not willing to let his team lose.
“It means a lot to play a home game in ‘the Shoe.’ We are truly honored to play there and we want to thank everyone who made that happen,” Alexander said. “As seniors, we didn’t want to go out with a loss at home. The whole team bought into that mentality and we worked to have a win for our fans.”
OSU’s leading scorers this season were the difference in the match, with sophomore midfielder Jesse King scoring four and senior attacker Logan Schuss and freshman attacker Carter Brown both adding three goals of their own.
“In the first quarter we struggled,” King said. “We weren’t really playing our game. Once we started setting up our offenses, we started clicking like we usually do.”
Senior midfielder Trey Wilkes continued his successful season by winning 18 of 23 face-offs and preventing the Tigers from sustaining significant spells of possession.
Coach Nick Myers thought that the domination of the faceoff statistics was a huge part in turning the game in OSU’s favor.
“For me the turning point in the game and I think for the men was the third quarter when Trey (Wilkes), Michael (Italiano) and Darius (Bowling), our wing play, really got hot. We started to stack possessions on top of each other,” Myers said. “I think offensively we found a rhythm and defensively we didn’t really feel like we needed to play as much defense as we were in the first half.”
A lot of OSU’s success this season has been given to their star players, but Schuss said that it is much more about playing as a team rather than individual performances.
“We’re definitely feeding off each other,” Schuss said. “It’s a great feeling when you can go into a game and know that it’s not one guy doing it all. You have six to seven guys who are scoring.”
King said he understands the contributions that Schuss brings to the team, but sees how other players can capitalize on having a player of his caliber on the field.
“We have Logan out there and he draws a lot of attention,” King said. “That makes it a lot easier for the rest of us to find open spots or seams. Other guys are now stepping up and becoming bigger threats so that opens him up as well.”
With the win, the Buckeyes are set to take a trip next week to College Park, Md. to take on Cornell, who beat No. 6 Maryland 16-8 in their first round matchup.
Even though the Ivy League school didn’t earn one of the top eight seeds in this year’s field, Myers will not allow his team to overlook Cornell.
“Cornell has been at the top of the rankings all year. They have a great coaching staff and they have a lot of top players too,” Myers said. “We have our hands full but we’ll continue to focus on us. We’ll just rest tonight and get right back to work tomorrow and focus on the next challenge.”
The Big Red have two of the nation’s top scorers, as Rob Parnell and Steve Mock are both in the top 10 in points per game, and boast an offense that scores over 14 goals a game.
OSU is scheduled to take on Cornell in College Park, Md. on May 18 at 12:30 p.m. for a spot in the final four.