No leading scorer. No starting goalie. No problem.
Playing without junior midfielder Jesse King and senior goaltender Greg Dutton, the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team snapped a three-game losing streak Friday, defeating the Bellarmine Knights, 10-7.
Getting off to a quick start, junior midfielder David Planning opened the scoring for the Buckeyes, ripping a shot to the off-stick side of senior goaltender Will Haas, who finished the game with eight saves for the Knights.
After freshman attackman/midfielder Matt Taulane scored his first career goal for Bellarmine to tie the game, the Buckeyes went on a three-goal run to take a 4-1 lead late in the second quarter.
However, two Bellarmine goals, the second coming with 22 seconds left in the half, gave the Knights the momentum until OSU freshman midfielder Jake Withers won the ensuing faceoff and capped off the possession with a goal with only two seconds left before the break.
Withers won 15 of 21 faceoffs in the game including picking up a team high 10 ground balls.
OSU coach Nick Myers said Withers has been improving every week, and he did a good job helping OSU control the faceoffs, an area that’s been a question mark at times during the season.
“Jake’s one of those freshmen that has been a work in progress,” Myers said. “To start the season, we knew we had something there. Give a lot of credit to (assistant) coach (Jamison) Koesterer, our faceoff coach, for really bringing him along and the wings as well. We knew it was going to be a key to the game and I thought Jake did a nice job there tonight.”
Sophomore attackman Carter Brown, who led the Buckeyes with five points, recorded his second and third goals of the night in the third quarter to give the Buckeyes a 7-4 lead going into the final frame.
Bellarmine (4-3, 0-3), , which is located in Louisville, Ky., started the fourth quarter with two unanswered goals by sophomore midfielder Taylor Stuart and senior midfielder Chad Mitchell, respectively, bringing the score within one.
However, that was as close as the Knights got as OSU used its second three-goal run of the night to put away Bellarmine for good.
Freshman attackman J.T. Blubaugh and junior attackman Reegan Comeault scored a pair of goals spanning a minute apart before junior midfielder Turner Evans scored a man-up goal for the Buckeyes to give them a 10-6 lead.
OSU was 2-3 on its man-up chances in the game.
Evans said the team had to change up its game plan because of the absence of King, but a lot of young players rose to the challenge to help get the win.
“Jesse (King) is obviously a huge part of our offense, so we had to make some adjustments during the week to try and work around having him not play today,” Evans said. “I feel like a lot guys stepped up and contributed today and not having him in the lineup obviously hurt us, but we managed to get the win.”
Bellarmine tacked on a goal in the final minute, but it proved to be too little too late as the Buckeyes held on for the victory.
Brown, who is second for the Buckeyes with nine goals on the season, said it was good to start off conference play with a win, but there are still plenty of games left to be played.
“It feels really good,” Brown said. “It’s kind of a new season right now in the conference. We just got to take it one game at a time and focus on ourselves.”
Freshman goaltender Nick Doyle, who started in place of the injured Dutton, made nine saves in his collegiate debut, a performance that didn’t surprise his coach.
“Doyle, I thought, did what we expect from our goalies,” Myers said. “He made some big saves, hung in there, did a nice job on the clear and helped us get a big win.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to be back in action Tuesday as they take on No. 9 Notre Dame at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Game time is set for 4 p.m.