Ohio State has four NCAA Tournament appearances on its resume: 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2013. Those four trips to The Big Barbecue have yielded two first round exits -- the back-to-back trips to start the millennium’s first decade -- and two national quarterfinal appearances. After Ohio State destroyed Towson in a 16-6 victory at Ohio Stadium, the question now is whether the Buckeyes can make a trip to Championship Weekend in only its fourth national tournament. (Only two schools -- Cortland (1972) and Yale (1990) -- have made an appearance in the national semifinals with five or fewer overall Division I tournament appearances.) Ohio State is starting to establish itself as a balanced force, featuring one of the most destructive individual offensive weapons in the country (The Silver Gleaming Death Machine (Logan Schuss)), lethal faceoff play, complementary offensive players that execute their role with aplomb, and a defense that has asserted itself as solid and capable. The Buckeyes' road to Memorial Monday or Semifinal Saturday isn't a given -- Ohio State next faces Cornell, a team that just lined Maryland's bridge with explosives and jumped on the detonator -- but Ohio State has put itself in a competitive position where Philadelphia isn't located in the town of "Forever," a locality in the county of "Never Going to Happen."
The Buckeyes thrashed Towson from just about the opening faceoff and didn't take their foot off the accelerator for the full 60 minutes. There wasn't an area of play that the Tigers held the advantage, succumbing to Ohio State at both ends of the field. The only time that Towson was playing above the Buckeyes' head was at the 5:37 mark of the first quarter, a goal from Andrew Hodgson on a Justin Mabus assist that gave Towson a 2-1 lead. From that point forward it was a total bloodbath and Ohio State was the sociopath running free with a chainsaw: A four-goal run over the final 1:45 of the first quarter and first 51 seconds of the second period gave Ohio State a 5-2 lead; a four-goal run that spanned the last 35 seconds of the second quarter and the first 14:55 of the third period gave the Buckeyes an 11-4 advantage; a Greg Cuccinello goal with 2:52 left in the penultimate stanza snapped a 14:14 scoreless streak for the Tigers and drew Towson within six, but Dominique Alexander would score with just four seconds remaining in the third quarter to give Ohio State a 12-5 lead; and the fourth quarter affirmed the Buckeyes' curbstomping of an overmatched Towson team, seing Ohio State put three goals on the board through the first 6:37 of play in the period and keeping the Tigers off the board until only 5:26 remained in regulation.
It was complete domination from Ohio State and Towson was useless to retaliate. The Buckeyes will take the trip to Byrd Stadium next Saturday for a shot at its first Championship Weekend invitation, but the competition in College Park -- a Big Red team that steamrolled Maryland and laughed as they heard the Terps' bones crack under the drum -- isn't going to assume a whipped position.
Here's a truncated tempo-free box score:
|Offensive Efficiency (per 100 Offensive Opportunities)||27.27||44.44|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.05||1.11|
|Offensive Shooting Percentage||26.09%||40.00%|
|Turnovers (per 100 Offensive Opportunities)||45.45||27.78|
|Caused Turnovers (per 100 Defensive Opportunities)||8.33||27.27|
|Unforced Turnovers (per 100 Offensive Opportunities)||18.18||19.44|
|Team Save Percentage||33.33%||53.85%|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||22.22||31.82|