The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team (15-4) is advancing to the first NCAA semifinals in program history after beating Duke (13-5) 16-11 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.
Coming off a seven-goal performance against Loyola (Maryland), the Buckeyes spoke all week about finding their offense against a Duke team that had piled up 37 goals over their past two games.
Safe to say, they found that offense.
Senior attackman Eric Fannell led the OSU charge with five goals and two assists, and the rest of the offense made the most of their chances, scoring on 16 of their 31 shot attempts. OSU also received a strong defensive effort from redshirt senior goalie Tom Carey who stopped 14 of 25 shots.
The scoring started for the Buckeyes when Fannell buried the game’s first goal just one minute and five seconds into the first quarter.
The game remained scoreless for nine minutes before Duke junior attack Justin Guterding scored his 50th goal of the season to tie the game up at one. But just eight seconds before the end of the quarter, redshirt freshman attackman Lukas Buckley found the back of the net for his 14th goal of the season, giving OSU a 2-1 lead.
Thirty-seven seconds into the second quarter, it was Fannell again who caught a pass from sophomore attackman Jack Jasinski and buried the one-timer to extend the OSU lead to 3-1. About two minutes later, Fannell beat the defender to get in front of the net and buried his third goal of the game, completing the hat trick and putting OSU up 4-1 with 12:37 remaining in the second quarter.
Now trailing by three goals, Duke found some life on a goal from sophomore midfielder John Prendergast just 50 seconds after Fannell’s goal. Then with 10:25 remaining in the second quarter, sophomore attackman Sean Lowrie brought the Blue Devils within one with his 12th goal of the season.
Then the Blue Devils started to get sloppy. A slashing penalty gave OSU a chance with the man-up, and senior attackman Austin Shanks made Duke pay with a goal just 14 seconds into the powerplay to give OSU its two-goal lead again. Another Duke penalty gave OSU a chance with the extra-man out there and senior midfielder Johnny Pearson buried a goal off a pass from Fannell to extend his team’s lead to 6-3 — Fannell’s second assist on the man-up.
Duke started to come back with seven minutes left in the second quarter with sophomore midfielder Brad Smith’s 20th goal of the season, but 11 seconds later, OSU junior defenseman Freddy Freibott grabbed that goal right back with his fourth of the season.
With 5:52 remaining in the second quarter, freshman attackman Tre Leclaire went top-shelf over the left shoulder of the goalie for his 45th goal of the season to push his team ahead by four. Senior midfielder JT Blubaugh added to his team’s lead, bringing the score to 9-4 in favor of the Buckeyes with 4:25 remaining before the end of the first half.
Duke opened up the third quarter on a high note, receiving a goal from senior midfielder Jack Bruckner who extended his NCAA-leading point streak to 56 games.
Just 5:48 into the second half (1:24 after Bruckner’s goal), Jasinski scored his first goal of the game — 13th of the season — to give OSU back its three-goal lead.
Fifty-two seconds later, Fannell buried his fourth goal of the game, but received a hard hit to the back after the score and appeared to be shaken up. He would later re-enter the game.
And the Buckeyes were almost certainly pleased Fannell did return, as he added to his goal total with his fifth tally of the night with 5:03 remaining in the third quarter.
For the second time in the game, Buckley closed out the quarter for the Buckeyes with a goal, his second of the game and 15th of the season.
— NCAA Lacrosse (@NCAA_Lax) May 20, 2017
The fourth quarter started off with a wild play. A sloppy behind-the-back pass attempt from the Buckeyes led to a turnover, and Carey was caught a little bit out of sorts in front of the net by junior midfielder Sean Cerrone who buried a goal just 21 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Building off that momentum, Duke freshman attackman Joey Manown capitalized on a successful clear attempt by his defense and scored a goal of his own 33 seconds after his teammate scored.
Needing anything to stop the bleeding, OSU took its time in its offensive zone before Jasinski found Blubaugh in front of the net who one-timed the ball into the back of the net for his second goal of the game.
After the two teams traded goals, Duke saw its two regular season-leading scorers step up as Bruckner added his third and fourth goals of the game, while Guterding tallied his second of the match to cut his team’s deficit down to just five goals.
The teams again exchanged goals within the final minute of the game, but OSU held on for the 16-11 victory.