In its final exhibition match of the preseason, the No. 9-ranked Ohio State men’s lacrosse team bucked a troubling trend.
After falling behind in the start in each of their first two exhibition matches, OSU lit the lamp early and never trailed against Robert Morris Saturday, defeating the Colonials, 11-7.
Junior midfielder Jesse King — who finished the game with two goals and two assists — got the scoring going for the Buckeyes when he found the back of the cage just 39 seconds into the contest.
Sophomore midfielder Eric Rankel scored 19 seconds later for the Colonials, who went 8-7 last season, before the Buckeyes scored the next two goals to lead 3-1 after the first quarter.
Continuing the momentum, OSU used goals from King and senior attackman Adam Trombley to go into halftime with a 5-3 lead.
“We just wanted to come out and start fast,” senior goalie Greg Dutton said after the win. “Last week against Navy, we had a bit of a slow start, so the focus this week was to get guys going.”
Dutton was one of the big reasons OSU was able to get out to an early lead as the Timonium, Md., native stopped six shots in just under three quarters of action.
Trombley said it helps the offense when their goaltenders are playing well because it allows them to take a few more chances.
After replacing Dutton late in the third with the Buckeyes leading 8-5, junior goalkeeper Cameron Stephens continued to stymie the Colonials offense as he made four saves of his own.
“It helps our confidence knowing that if we turn it over, Dutton and Cameron will stop the shots and get the ball back to us,” Trombley said.
OSU coach Nick Myers was impressed with how both goalies played.
“I thought that the goalie position today was what we expect here at Ohio State,” Myers said. “Those guys really did their job. They made some saves they shouldn’t and they made saves we expect them to make. It was a really solid day in the cage.”
Offensively, OSU spread the ball around as seven different Buckeyes tallied a goal with King, Trombley, sophomore attackman Gordie Koerber and freshman attackman J.T. Blubaugh tallying two goals apiece.
Led by senior defenseman Joe Meurer, the Buckeyes defense held Robert Morris to seven goals, the lowest OSU has allowed in their three exhibition games, as well as forcing 17 turnovers.
“I thought we were better today than we were last week and that is a small step in the right direction,” Myers said. “I’m happy with the improvement, but we understand there is still work to be done.”
Up next for the Buckeyes is their regular season opener as they are set to hit the road for Baltimore, Md., where they take on future Big Ten Conference opponent No. 13 Johns Hopkins Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
“Playing at Homewood Field is always a challenge,” Dutton said. “We look forward to the task at hand and we are going to prepare hard for them this week.”
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