The No. 19 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team defeated the University of Massachusetts 8-7 for the first time in school history on Saturday.
Tied at six entering the fourth quarter, sophomore attackman Tyler Bogart scored for the Minutemen to take the lead. However, the Buckeyes were resilient, scoring less than a minute later to tie the game on the man advantage. Then, 13 seconds later, senior midfielder Jake Withers won the faceoff and found freshman defender Jeff Henrich who dashed downfield and scored the game-winning goal with 10:39 remaining.
Senior midfielder J.T. Blubaugh scored the tying goal at seven for OSU.
“(This game) shows what we’re capable of,” said senior midfielder Johnny Pearson. “It’s reflective of some of the plays on the field weren’t going our way, but we really rallied behind some of the momentum we got there late and really just proven what we can do.”
UMass sophomore midfielder Ben Spencer flustered the OSU defense, earning his first career hat trick with the Minutemen. Spencer scored his final goal in the third quarter, followed by a strike from junior midfielder Jake Lisauskas to take a two-goal lead.
But OSU countered again. Pearson and junior attackman Colin Chell scored for the Buckeyes to tie the game at six before the end of the quarter.
Pearson had two goals on Saturday and leads the team with six through three games.
OSU coach Nick Myers substituted junior goalie Matthew Smidt for the starter, redshirt senior goalie Tom Carey, at the start of the second quarter. Smidt made 11 saves on 15 shots, including two critical ones in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
“In nine years I’ve only made one or two goalie changes,” Myers said. “It’s not something I like to do, but I think it’s a gut feeling. He had a really good week. He made some big stops and I’m excited for him.”
OSU trailed at three different points in the match, but not when it mattered when the horn sounded. Smidt was a key component to the comeback victory. He said the moment was not a surprise to him.
“I was prepared to start the entire week,” Smidt said. “The coaches knew that I was going to get the opportunity to go in and I made the best of it. And it’s tough staying in that goal, but I think I executed good and I prepared myself to have a good go.”
The Buckeyes were 12 for 19 overall in the faceoff circle and outshot UMass 39-29. However, of the 39 shots, only 18 were on frame compared to 19 of the opponent’s 29 shots. Myers said the offense was not the best today, but he’s glad the defense stepped up.
“We know we did a lot of things offensively that were out of character for us and you know it was one of those days,” he said.
The 3-0 Buckeyes will face the 0-2 Jacksonville Dolphins next Saturday at noon.