May 2, 2009

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. - With points from seven players, 13 saves from junior goalie Brandon Freeman and a solid defensive effort, the Ohio State men's lacrosse team defeated Air Force, 10-5, Friday at Maple Field at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Mich., to advance to the Great Western Lacrosse League tournament championship game. Ohio State, the No. 3 seed, moves to 8-7 on the year and will take on No. 1 Notre Dame at noon Sunday in Birmingham, Mich., with the winner receiving the league's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. No. 2 seed Air Force, who defeated the Buckeyes 9-6 earlier this year, ends the season 7-7. Notre Dame beat No. 4 seed Quinnipiac, 7-4, in the other GWLL semifinal. Tickets to the championship game are $15 each and will be available at the door, with gates opening at 11 a.m.

Air Force took a one-goal lead three times in the first quarter, but the Buckeyes tied the game each time. Sophomore Mike Pires scored the only goal of the second quarter to put Ohio State in the lead for the first time and junior Mario Ventiquattro extended the lead to two early in the third quarter as the Buckeye defense held the Falcons scoreless for 23:12. The teams traded goals again with Air Force drawing within one (6-5) with 1:18 left in the third quarter. The Buckeyes then held the Falcons off the board and closed out the game with four unanswered goals for the semifinal win.

Senior Joel Dalgarno set the program goal-scoring record with his third-quarter tally, marking the 124th goal of his Buckeye career. He added three assists for a team-best four points in the game. Pires had two goals and an assist for three points, with senior Jeff Ryan and Ventiquattro each scoring twice.

The teams combined for six goals in the first quarter, ending the period tied at 3. The Falcons led by one three times, but the Buckeyes knotted the score each time. Vinny Sandtrov opened the scoring with his first of three goals in the quarter, tallying at 12:13. Senior Brian Lalley scored less than a minute later from right in front of the cage at 11:20. Sandtorv scored at 8:23 to put Air Force back on top, a lead it held for more than five minutes before sophomore Mike Pires scored unassisted at 3:06 but Sandtorv tallied for the Falcons at 2:05 to make the score 3-2. Joel Dalgarno set up Jeff Ryan for a goal at 1:08 to again tie the game. The Buckeyes won 5-of-7 faceoffs in the stanza. The Falcons outshot the Buckeyes, 8-7, in the quarter.

Pires scored man-up, assisted by James Green, at 12:13 of the second quarter to put Ohio State in the lead for the first time. It was the only goal of the quarter, as Freeman made four saves in the Buckeye cage. Air Force outshot Ohio State, 9-8, in the quarter. Ohio State won both faceoffs in the quarter. The Buckeyes carried a 4-3 lead into halftime.

Ohio State extended its goal run to three when Pires found Ventiquattro at 13:09 of the third quarter to give the Buckeyes a two-goal lead (5-3). Air Force got on the board at 8:53 with a K.J. Landgraf goal, its first tally in 23:12. Dalgarno scored his record-setting goal at 7:18 on a fast break following a turnover in the Buckeye zone that rolled past midfield and was scooped up by junior Scott Foreman. The Falcons' Landgraf scored six minutes later to cut the Ohio State lead to one (6-5). Dalgarno found Ryan in front of the net for a goal with 17 seconds left in the third quarter to give the Buckeyes a 7-5 edge heading into the fourth stanza. Shots were 10-9 in favor of Air Force in the third quarter, with Freeman making three stops.

The Buckeyes scored the only three goals of the fourth quarter, as they held Air Force scoreless for the final 16:18. Dalgarno set up Green at 8:43. Ventiquattro scored unassisted at 4:03 and senior Doug Ruhnke had an unassisted tally with 2:02 left. The Buckeyes outshot Air Force, 12-10, in the stanza, as Freeman made four saves.

The Buckeyes were outshot in the game, 37-36. Freeman had 13 saves, with Brian Wilson making six stops for the Falcons.

The Buckeyes were 3-for-5 on EMO chances in the game and held the Falcons scoreless on three opportunities.

Ohio State won 9-of-17 faceoffs in the game, led by Nick Carr who was 8-6.