In the last five seasons of NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse, only one of 224 teams has overcome a four-goal deficit with a little more than four minutes to play.
But the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team’s 10-9 overtime loss to No. 3 Maryland on Saturday proved that near-perfect odds are not a guarantee.
“The kids played their hearts out,” coach Nick Myers said. “It’s frustrating because we played about as well as we ever have in a number of areas, but you have to finish games.”
With just 4:23 remaining, No. 11 OSU (10-4) led Maryland (12-1) by four goals, maintaining the lead it built during the first 56 minutes of the “Showdown in the Shoe.” But the team’s failure to execute down the final stretch resulted in the loss, giving the Terrapins a share of the first Big Ten men’s lacrosse title when a win would have done the same for the Buckeyes.
“We gave a talented team some extra chances and they capitalized on them,” Myers said. “We just didn’t manage the last seven or eight minutes of the game.”
In the first three quarters, OSU dominated the game on paper. On offense, the team scored eight goals on just 25 total shots.
Senior midfielder Jesse King played arguably his best game of the season, scoring his first of four goals just 12 seconds into the game, helping OSU take a 4-1 lead by the end of quarter one. With strikes from junior attackman Ryan Hunter and sophomore midfielder John Kelly, OSU headed to halftime up, 6-4.
On the other side of the ball, OSU attempted to hold Maryland’s offense in check, with redshirt-sophomore goalie Tom Carey making 11 saves in 63:11, while junior defenseman Robby Haus limited Maryland’s top scorer, sophomore attackman Matt Rambo.
Rambo averages 2.15 goals per game, and nearly matched that stat with two goals against the Buckeyes. But the latter came with 4:22 left in the game, sparking the Terrapins’ come-from-behind overtime victory.
“They’re a really talented team,” senior defenseman Evan Mulchrone said. “We played really well for three quarters. We put an emphasis on communication all week, and it was great for a while, so it’s disappointing at the end.”
With 49 seconds left in the extra period, Maryland put an unassisted goal into the back of the net, ending the game. But despite the heartbreaking outcome, playing before crowd of 21,064 still made for a spectacular day, King said.
“This is the reason you come to Ohio State, for events like this, and why the sport of lacrosse is growing the way that it is here in the Midwest. I’m lucky to have this experience. I just wish the outcome could have been different,” he said.
While the scoreboard reflected a negative result for OSU, King said the Buckeyes are already aiming to turn things around.
“We know we’re a tough team. We’re gonna see what we did wrong, what we did right and try to recover next week,” he said.
OSU is scheduled to play its final regular season matchup next Sunday against Rutgers. The game is set for noon in Piscataway, N.J.