For the briefest of moments, it seemed like the Michigan Wolverines were going to come to Ohio Stadium and pull an upset against the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team.
A three-goal deficit early in the second quarter seemed to be a bad omen for the Buckeyes, who started the year winning one of their first five games.
But OSU (5-6, 2-0) held Michigan (4-9, 1-3) scoreless in the second half, and pulled away in front of a season-high crowd of 17,641 to earn a 15-6 win Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
OSU coach Nick Myers said the game presented his team with the opportunity to get a huge win in front of a larger than usual crowd due to the Spring Game.
“For us, keeping it under the right microscope, it’s a league win and second to that, it’s a chance in front of a really special crowd,” Myers said. “I know our men understand the responsibility of what it means to put on that Block ‘O.’ We were excited about coming out here and defending it against one of our rivals.”
Winners of four of their last five, the Buckeyes fell behind early after the Wolverines jumped out to a 5-2 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter.
However, led by junior midfielder Jesse King, OSU battled back to even the score at six heading into halftime. King, who finished the game with five goals and an assist, now has 21 points in his last three games.
King said the Buckeyes started poor, but found a way to turn things around and calm the game down.
“We started rushing things a little bit on our offense, we were getting a little tedious and playing a little fast,” King said. “We just slowed things down and made it really simple.”
Senior defenseman Joe Meurer said the job the offense did maintaining possession was a big reason why the defense held Michigan without a goal for the last 35:24 of the game.
“Usually the best defense is an offense,” Meurer said. “I don’t think we lost more than three faceoffs in the second half, so that is a tribute to the hard work that the faceoff guys are putting in and the offense. They’ve been playing extremely well lately, and they kept the ball down in their end so we didn’t have to play.”
King said freshman midfielder Jake Withers, who won 16 of 25 faceoffs during the game, has been improving week in and week out, and he expects great things to come.
“Jake’s a really talented player,” King said. “A freshman coming in and he’s one of the guys that is stepping up really big for us. I can’t wait to see what else comes from him.”
Offensively, the Buckeyes had five players register three or more points, including sophomore attackman Ryan Hunter, who scored a career-high four goals in his second career start.
Defensively, OSU got another stellar outing from senior goaltender Scott Spencer, who made nine saves to improve to 3-1 on the season in replacement of injured senior goaltender Greg Dutton.
Up next, OSU is set to play its final home game of the regular season against Air Force, April 19 at 1 p.m.
Meurer said despite the win today, the Buckeyes need to stay the course and focus if they want to finish the season with a chance to make their second consecutive postseason appearance.
“It’s huge but at the same time we can’t get complacent,” Meurer said. “We know there is still a long road ahead for us and we are going to continue to work hard and get better every day.”