April 26, 2014

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team ended the regular season with a 7-5 loss on the road at No. 14/17 Fairfield Saturday afternoon. The Buckeyes, with a 3-1 record in ECAC Lacrosse League play, end conference play as tri-champions with Air Force and Fairfield. It is the first conference title for the Buckeyes in the ECAC and the program’s first share of a crown since 2008 when the team competed in the Great Western Lacrosse League.

Ohio State (6-7, 3-1 ECAC), which had its four-game winning streak ended, returns home to host the ECAC Tournament this week. The semifinals will be at 5 and 8 p.m. Thursday, with the final at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Buckeyes will be joined in the tournament by Air Force (3-1 ECAC), Fairfield (3-1 ECAC) and Michigan (1-3 ECAC), with the top three seeds announced Monday. UM will be the No. 4 seed, with the others based on tiebreakers. The winner receives the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

The Buckeyes trailed Fairfield 2-1 after the first quarter. Buckeye junior leading scorer Jesse King, a Tewaaraton Award nominee, opened the scoring at 12:37 with an unassisted tally. The Stags responded with back-to-back goals in 21 seconds, as Alex Cramer tied the game at 9:56 and TJ Neubauer put Fairfield ahead at 9:25. Shots were 8-5 in favor of the Buckeyes in the quarter, with each team’s goalie making two saves.

In the second quarter, Neubauer scored his second of the game at 12:06 and Colin McLinden gave the Stags a three-goal lead (4-1) at 10:03. Buckeye close defenseman Chris Mahoney cut the deficit to two, picking up the groundball after a turnover, clearing the ball and scoring on the fast break at 6:46. Fairfield outshot Ohio State, 7-3, in the quarter and Fairfield’s goalie made three saves, with senior Scott Spencer stopping one shot for Ohio State.

Ohio State cut the lead to one (4-3) at 13:12 of the third quarter when sophomore Carter Brown found classmate Ryan Hunter for a goal. The Stags responded at 9:46 to go back ahead by two (5-3) but Buckeye freshman John Kelly scored with 3:17 left for a one-goal game heading into the fourth quarter. The teams combined for just six shots in the quarter, with Fairfield outshooting the Buckeyes, 6-3. Spencer had four saves in the stanza for the Buckeyes.

The Stags scored twice in the first 1:53 of the fourth quarter to push their advantage to three (7-4). Eric Warden tallied at 14:07, followed by a goal from Dave Fleming at 13:07. Brown scored for the Buckeyes at 4:45 to make it a two-goal game, but Ohio State could get no closer. Ohio State outshot Fairfield, 13-7, in the quarter and each goalie made two stops.

For the game, Ohio State outshot Fairfield, 28-25. Spencer, starting his sixth game in a row, made nine saves in all 60 minutes. He has a 7.35 goals-against average this season, with a .567 save percentage, along with a 4-2 ledger. Fairfield goalie Jack Murphy made eight saves for the win.

Fairfield had the advantage in groundballs (31-20) and faceoffs (9-7). Buckeye freshman Jake Withers won 7-of-16 draws and had two groundballs. Senior Dominic Imbordino and sophomore Robby Haus each had a team-high four groundballs, with Haus and senior Joe Meurer each causing two turnovers.

Game Notes
• Ohio State has held opponents to less than 10 goals in eight of the last nine games and allowed just seven goals or less in each of its last three games and in six games on the year. The team is allowing 8.15 goals a game this season. Fairfield came into the game averaging 11.85 goals an outing.
• Haus leads the Buckeyes with 16 caused turnovers and is second with 32 groundballs this year. Imbordino and junior Evan Mulchrone are second with 12 caused turnovers each, while Meurer has 11.
• Mahoney, who has started at close defense the last four games, scored his second goal of the year (and his career). He also scored April 6 at Delaware. He had his third game with three groundballs this season.
• Kelly’s goal was his second of the year and first since March 15 at Denver.
• Hunter has 13 goals and 16 points this season, all in the last five games.
• King extended his point streak to 35 games, with 66 goals, 51 assists and 117 points in the stretch but had his 21-game assist streak (38 assists) ended. He is first on the squad with 26 goals, 22 assists and 48 points this season.
• Brown, with a goal and an assist for two points vs. Fairfield, is second on the team with 21 goals and 33 points. It was his 10th multiple point game this season.
• Withers has a team-high 62 groundballs and has won 106-of-205 (.517) of his faceoffs this season.
• Spencer has nine or more saves in each of his last four starts.
• Junior Reegan Comeault, who has 11 goals and 13 assists this season, was held scoreless for the first time.
• The Buckeyes were 17-for-19 on clears vs. Fairfield and are now 216-for-236 (.915) this season. The squad entered the week fifth nationally in clearing percentage.
• Ohio State was held to a season-low tying five goals by the Stags. The squad is averaging 9.38 goals a game this year.