UMass men’s lacrosse drops close game against No. 20 Ohio State in Columbus

By Thomas Johnston

(Robert Rigo/Collegian)

In the week leading up to its second game of the season, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team knew it needed to be executing on all cylinders to compete with No. 20 Ohio State in Columbus.

The Minutemen’s offense produced more than they did in their season-opening loss against Army, but it wasn’t enough to match the Buckeyes in a 8-7 loss at Ohio Stadium.

UMass (0-2) had its hands full in the faceoff circle going up against OSU’s Jake Withers, last seasons Big Ten specialist of the year. Withers won 12-of-19 faceoffs in the game, giving the Buckeyes extra possessions throughout the contest.

The Minutemen got a big offensive performance out of sophomore midfielder Ben Spencer, who had his first career hat trick, with two of his three goals coming off man-up situations. Attackman Tyler Bogart had two goals in the contest.

“It was a good game,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “[We’re] two good teams. Ohio State is an excellent team. We defended very well and played well in goal. We weren’t able to win enough faceoffs and obviously seven goals is not enough. We had opportunities but it was a hard-fought game and our guys put in a great effort.”

The first period saw each team’s offense get off to hot starts. Ohio State (3-0) got on the scoreboard first, but the Minutemen quickly answered with a goal from close-defenseman Shane Rinkus. The pattern continued until the end of the quarter, with each team scoring three goals.

After a high-scoring first period, defense began to take over in the second. Dan Muller found Bogart, who put the ball in the back of the net for his first goal of the game to give UMass a 4-3 lead at the half.

The Buckeyes scored first in the second half, but UMass answered with two goals in a 53-second span. Spencer scored his second man-up goal of the game, followed by an unassisted goal by Jake Lisauskas that gave the Minutemen a 6-4 lead with 9:13 remaining in the third quarter.

UMass had multiple chances in the third to extend its lead, but couldn’t capitalize. The Minutemen registered 11 shots in the quarter, but converted that into only two goals.

“[OSU goalkeeper Matthew Smidt] made some saves on us,” Cannella said. “We weren’t that sharp with our shots, he did make some saves though. And the third was a quarter that we actually dominated faceoffs. So when you look at it, yeah you wish you had a few more possessions and scored a couple more but I don’t think that was a deal breaker.”

Ohio State answered the Minutemen goals with a pair of its own in the third quarter, sending it to the fourth with each team knotted at six goals.

It was Bogart who broke the tie in the fourth, scoring his second goal of the game with 11:46 remaining. The lead would not last long, though, as the Buckeyes JT Blubaugh scored less than a minute later to tie the game at seven.

Withers won the following faceoff, and Ohio State’s Jeff Henrick raced down and found the back of the net. In just a 13-second span, the Minutemen went from holding the lead to playing from behind.

“They tied it up then they scored on a garbage goal on the next faceoff and they’re good enough to punch it home,” Cannella said. “They made the plays that they needed to make down the stretch.”

Both defenses locked in from that point on, and neither team was able to come away with another goal in the contest. Despite the loss, Cannella feels good about his team’s effort on the game.

“You come out of that on the road and you lose, but you come out of that feeling better than you did last week.”

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.