Playing in the confines of Ohio Stadium, the No. 19 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team was unable to achieve the same outcome the football team did this fall — beat Penn State.
Despite playing on the biggest stage campus has to offer, the Buckeyes (1-3, 0-0) couldn’t recover from a strong second half output by the No. 9 Nittany Lions (3-1, 0-0), allowing seven of the 11 Penn State goals after halftime to lose 11-8.
The matchup started out as a defensive struggle, as both goalies stayed strong between the pipes throughout the first quarter.
The Buckeyes had the lone score in the opening frame when junior midfielder David Planning fired a shot past the Nittany Lions’ senior goalkeeper Austin Kaut.
The second quarter began with both teams trading goals as senior midfielder Tom LaCrosse got Penn State on the board, but OSU sophomore attackman Carter Brown answered with a goal of his own to regain the lead for the Buckeyes.
The lead was short lived, however, as the Nittany Lions scored three goals before halftime to gain momentum heading into the break.
Penn State rode that momentum into the third quarter and came out firing on all cylinders. Before five minutes passed, the Nittany Lions had tallied three more goals to take a commanding 7-2 lead and force the Buckeyes to call a timeout.
“They came out and saw what we were doing,” OSU senior goalie Greg Dutton said after the loss. “We were a little bit slower and didn’t make the adjustments we needed to.”
Buckeye junior midfielder Jesse King came out of that timeout ready to lead a comeback. He scored four goals over the final 20 minutes, but the Buckeyes only got as close as two the rest of the way.
Nittany Lion senior attackman Shane Sturgis scored four goals of his own in the second half, helping to keep the Buckeyes at bay.
OSU coach Nick Myers credited Penn State’s ability to switch defenses as a reason the Buckeyes’ offense became stagnant at times.
“They played a variation of man and zone,” Myers said. “As they were getting into one defense or the other, it causes you to adjust. I think at times we did a nice job of it (adjusting) and at times we didn’t.”
Faceoffs have been a recurring problem so far for OSU this season, and were again an issue for the Buckeyes Saturday as they won only six of 22 opportunities. With that many offensive opportunities, Dutton did his best to thwart the Nittany Lion attack by recording 12 saves.
“I told him (Dutton) he had a courageous effort in there,” Myers said. “He stood tall.”
Senior defenseman Joe Meurer said the Buckeyes did what they could to get things back even in the second half, but ultimately came up short.
“We showed a lot of poise in the second half, but those lapses that we showed at the beginning of quarters can’t happen,” he said.
The rough start to the season is not what OSU had in mind, but Myers said his team is capable of turning it around.
“For this team, it’s not necessarily how we drew it up at this point,” Myers said. “This is a hungry group still and a team that has a lot of potential.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to Hempstead, N.Y., Saturday to take on Hofstra at 1 p.m.