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NCAA Semifinal: Ohio State Pulls Out Win Over Towson

Buckeyes storm back in the second half with an 8-3 run.

NCAA Lacrosse: Men's Championship Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

After trailing by as much as four goals in the first half, the Ohio State Buckeyes dominated the possession battle in the second half to top the Towson Tigers, 11-10 in the first men’s lacrosse semifinal on Saturday. The Buckeyes advanced to their first ever title game.

Ohio State won every faceoff in the fourth quarter with Jake Withers going 5-for-5 in the final frame. The Buckeyes won the of the 13 face-offs overall in the second half.

“I think it was significant,” said head coach Nick Myers. “Jake, looking at the stats here, five for five in the fourth quarter, five for eight in the third, and we only lost three face-offs in the second half. So, Jake's been the kind of guy that's been carrying us in that sense all year.”

Towson, similar to its quarterfinal against Syracuse, jumped out early and held a 7-3 lead at the half. But the script flipped in the third quarter with the Buckeyes tallying five times to Towson’s two, and the Tigers could only manage a single tally in the fourth compared to Ohio State’s three.

Freshman Tre Leclaire continued his successful postseason run with a hat-trick, while fellow attackmen Eric Fannell and Austin Shanks each had two.

“We felt like we needed to do something,” said Leclaire. “We came out in the second half, and we said we each need to calm down, take a deep breath and run our offense, and it worked.”

The Tigers opened the second half to expand their lead with Joe Seider scoring just over three minutes into the third quarter. But that’s when Ohio State went on a four goal run to trail by two, with tallies from Leclaire, Shanks (2), and Fannell.

“I think to a degree there were a little bit of nerves, but we always talk about really weathering the storm,” said Buckeye midfielder JT Blubaugh. “When we're down and not in rhythm, like you said, just stack plays on top of each other, and whatever happens next. If you can't score, you can't get a four-goal deficit back in one play. You go one at a time, and that's what we did.”

The Buckeyes would go on to score eight out of nine goals, split up only by a late third quarter Towson goal from midfielder Tyler Young. But then goals from Fannell, LeClaire, Blubaugh, and Johnny Pearson gave Ohio State an 11-9 lead, one they would hang onto with the exception of Ryan Drenner’s third goal of the game with 3:17 to go.

With no more scoring for the remainder of the game, Towson had one final possession but wasn’t able to find the back of the net. Young worked his way behind X and tried to feed the ball to an incoming Tyler Konen, but freshman defenseman Jeff Henrick read Young’s pass perfectly and disrupted the play to end the game.

Drenner’s teammate, fellow attackman Joe Seider, finished with three goals of his own.

Towson vs. #3 Ohio State Final Team Stats

Category Towson Ohio State
Category Towson Ohio State
Shots 40 35
Ground balls 27 27
Face-off Violations 3 3
Face-offs 10-25 15-25
Clears 14-14 10-13
Extra-man Opportunities 1-3 2-2
Saves 6 10
Turnovers 6 13