COLUMBUS, Ohio – Sunday in Ohio Stadium, the No. 18-ranked Ohio State men’s lacrosse team downed No. 1-ranked Denver, 16-7, to improve to 9-0 this season. The Buckeyes used a 10-goal run, while holding Denver scoreless for nearly 40 minutes, for the win.
Ohio State had goals from seven players, led by freshman Tre Leclaire with five and seniors Johnny Pearson and Eric Fannell with three each. Fannell had four assists, with Leclaire setting up two goals, to give each a seven-point game. Junior Colin Chell had three assists and four points, while senior JT Blubaugh (2g, 1a) and freshman Ryan Terefenko (1g, 2a) each had three-point outings. Senior Jake Withers won 10 faceoffs and classmate Tom Carey had 11 saves in the Buckeye cage. Ohio State caused seven turnovers and had the advantage in groundballs, 33-18.
As the final nonconference home game for the Buckeyes this season, the 11 members of the senior class were recognized pregame: Lucas Bailey, JT Blubaugh, Tom Carey, Nick Doyle, Eric Fannell, John Kelly, Bryan Lichtenauer, Johnny Pearson, Tyler Pfister, Austin Shanks and Jake Withers.
The win was the Buckeyes’ second consecutive over a Top 10 team, after downing No. 10 Towson Wednesday on the road. Ohio State returns to the road for a 2 p.m. game at No. 4 Notre Dame Saturday.
Against Denver, Ohio State opened the scoring on a goal by Leclaire 1:16 into the game and the Pioneers answered just over a minute later on a goal by Tyler Pace. Denver was assessed a penalty 25 seconds after its goal and the Buckeyes converted, with Pearson scoring off an assist from Leclaire to put the Buckeyes ahead at 11:50.
Just 10 seconds later Ohio State scored again, with Fannell finishing a fast break assisted by Terefenko. At 4:26 Colin found Pearson for a goal and 4-1 Buckeye lead. With time winding down in the first quarter and the shot clock on for the Buckeyes, Blubaugh converted, scoring off a pass from classmate Tyler Pfister, for a 5-1 Buckeye advantage after 15 minutes. Carey had three saves in the cage for the Buckeyes, as OSU outshot DU, 9-8.
The Buckeyes notched the only three goals of the second quarter, with each team taking seven shots. Leclaire had back-to-back goals, scoring man-up off an assist from Chell at 9:38 and assisted by Fannell at 5:34. Chell scored a goal of his own with a second remaining in the quarter. He caught a ball in the air as it was coming out of Blubaugh’s stick, turned and scored, putting the Buckeyes up 8-1 at halftime.
The Buckeyes scored the three goals of the third quarter to push the lead to 11-1. At 10:42 Fannell notched another transition goal set up by Terefenko and at 8:33 Leclaire scored his fourth of the day, assisted by Blubaugh. Just over a minute later (7:28) Chell found Fannell for a goal.
Denver ended its scoreless streak at 39:34 when Connor Cannizzaro scored a man-down goal at 2:54 of the third. Leclaire got on the scoreboard again in the final minute, converting off a pass from Austin Shanks with 26 seconds left in the third for a 12-2 Buckeye lead. Each team’s goalie had three saves in the third quarter. Ohio State had 12 shots in the third, limiting Denver to just four.
The teams combined for nine goals in the fourth quarter for the 16-7 final. Ohio State tallied the first when Terefenko scored a goal of his own at 12:18, set up by Fannell. Denver had the next two, at 12:09 and 11:57, but the Buckeyes responded with three in a row. Shanks scored man-up at 10:31, assisted by Leclaire. Fannell set up two goals in a row, with Blubaugh scoring at 9:05 and Pearson completing his hat trick with an EMO goal at 5:16. Denver scored the game’s final three goals, at 3:33, 2:01 and 1:30. Carey had another three saves in the stanza.
Ohio State won the groundball battle, 33-18, including 8-1 in the third quarter. Buckeye senior Jake Withers won 10-of-24 faceoffs and had four groundballs. Junior Freddy Freibott picked up five groundballs and had a caused turnover, while Ben Randall had two caused turnovers and three groundballs. Sophomore Logan Maccani also forced two turnovers and had three groundballs.
Shots were 35-31 in favor of the Buckeyes. Carey played 57:59 and had 11 saves, allowing six goals, including just two in the first 45 minutes. He now has a 5.49 goals-against average, ranking among the NCAA’s leaders, and .619 save percentage, along with a 6-0 record. Nick Doyle closed out the game for the Buckeyes.
The Buckeye man-up unit was 4-for-7, while holding the Pioneers scoreless on four of five chances.