The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team almost has an embarrassment of riches on the offensive side of the ball. Seemingly each week, anyone can step up in a pivotal role and provide a spark on the attack. Such was the case again Friday in Ohio Stadium.
Sophomore attacker Colin Chell scored the Buckeyes’ first three goals and added an assist, while junior attacker Austin Shanks scored two goals and assisted on two more to lead the Scarlet and Gray to a 12-7 win over the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
OSU coach Nick Myers had high words of praise for his sophomore attacker.
“(Chell) is a special player,” Myers said. “He had a great week of practice … and did a great job at the attack position tonight.”
Although the Buckeyes, who were coming off their first loss of the season to Massachusetts last week, were in control for most of the game, it took them some time to get there.
The first quarter was relatively even between the two teams. UMBC opened up the scoring at the 13:40 mark when freshman midfielder Billy Nolan threw a strike to give the Retrievers a 1-0 lead. A pair of goals by Chell and one more by UMBC leveled the game at 2-2 to end the quarter.
Chell kept it rolling to open the second quarter with his third goal of the game, giving him six on the year. After the win, he tipped his hat to defense for allowing him to make an offensive impact early in the game.
“You got to credit (redshirt junior goalie) Tom Carey in cage and the defense for making some quality stops down there and being able to get us the ball on offense,” Chell said.
OSU’s defense clamped down on the UMBC offense for the next two quarters after allowing the pair of goals in the first quarter. The Retrievers were only able to attempt four shots in the second and third quarters combined. For the game, they had just 16, whereas OSU attempted 41. Myers said the key to this was being able to work together.
“I think the biggest thing we stressed defensively in practice this week was just playing with seven (and) getting more guys on the same page,” Myers said. “Anytime you hold a team scoreless for 25-to-30 minutes in a row is a positive.”
This staunch defensive effort allowed the Scarlet and Gray to hold a 9-3 lead as the fourth quarter began. It was a lead that proved to be insurmountable, as the game finished by a score of 12-7.
Junior midfielder John Kelly said this game was a step in the right direction, especially with the Buckeyes coming off a loss in their previous game.
“We feel great, a complete turnaround from last week,” Kelly said. “Overall, we had a fantastic performance and feel really good about the way that we played.”
Junior faceoff specialist Jake Withers continued his stellar play at the position. Withers won nine of 11 faceoffs in the first half and 14 of 22 total, continuing his streak of advantage in faceoffs through the first four games of the year.
“(Withers is) an amazing faceoff guy,” Kelly said. “He fights for ground balls, and I love the way he plays. He’s very important to our time of possession and allowing us to keep the ball on the offensive end of the field.”
The win means the Buckeyes are off to a 1-0 start in games played at the ‘Shoe. Chell said it gives the Buckeyes an extra edge to play home games in the historic stadium.
“Everybody was amped up to play in the ‘Shoe tonight,” Chell said. “It’s a great atmosphere — a night game — and we brought the juice.”
While noting it is still early in the season, Myers said he likes how the team is looking.
“It’s still February. We’ve got a long way to go,” Myers said. “But being at home in the ‘Shoe, it’s important that we came out and played with the urgency that we needed to, and I thought that the men did that tonight.”
The Buckeyes will stay at home next weekend, as they are set to host the Midwest Lacrosse Classic. They are scheduled to play Marquette on Friday at 6 p.m. and Bellarmine on March 6 at 3 p.m.