COLUMBUS, Ohio - Despite playing neck-and-neck with No. 13 Ohio State, a third-quarter surge proved too much to overcome as the Buckeyes downed the Lehigh men’s lacrosse team, 11-7, on Tuesday evening. The Mountain Hawks (3-2) tied the score midway through the second quarter, but struggled to penetrate a strong Buckeye (5-1) defense, scoring only three more goals the rest of the way.
“I was very impressed with Ohio State,” said Lehigh head coach Kevin Cassese. “I think they’re every bit the number 13 team in the country. They’re extremely athletic, very well coached and they play hard. I thought our guys played really hard; they left it on the field and did everything they could to give themselves a chance to win.”
Down 2-0 in the early going, Lehigh came back to pull even on two occasions. Ohio State responded, outscoring the Mountain Hawks, 4-1, in the third quarter to go ahead by four. Lehigh did score a pair in the fourth, but it proved too little, too late.
“Ohio State made the most of their possessions in the third quarter,” said Cassese. “They didn’t have a ton of shots on the day, but they made the most of the ones that they had. You saw that in the third quarter in particular. They made that push, forcing us to play catch-up the rest of the way.”
Lehigh did lead the final shot count, 35-29, but a strong Buckeyes’ defense kept numerous Mountain Hawk attempts to the outside. Senior Cameron Lao-Gosney led the attack with three points via two goals and an assist. Sophomore Dante Fantoni also netted a pair to improve his point streak to 17 straight games. Fellow sophomore David DiMaria recorded an assist to up his streak to 15.
Sophomore Ryan Snyder enjoyed another solid game at the faceoff X, winning 11-of-21, including 10 of his last 16. He also scooped up six ground balls to up his season total to 51 through five games. Fantoni was active on both ends of the field, also tying a career high with four ground balls.
Down 9-5 after three quarters, the Mountain Hawks tried to pull closer on two occasions. Junior Roman Lao-Gosney netted the first goal of the fourth with a nifty split dodge to get himself free before beating Ohio State goalie Greg Dutton high to make it 9-6.
The Buckeyes responded at 6:49 via a Logan Schuss marker to make it 10-6. Lehigh would not go quietly as Fantoni scored his second of the game at 3:20 to pull the Mountain Hawks back within three. However, with sophomore goaltender Dan Carr out of the net applying pressure, Tyler Frederick scored on the empty net to make it 11-7 at 2:14.
The resilient Mountain Hawks continued to fight, getting a flurry of tremendous opportunities on goal in the final minute, but Dutton made a pair of sensational stops to keep the final margin at four.
Ohio State took a quick 2-0 lead with a pair of goals only 3:26 into the game, but the Mountain Hawks answered with three of the next four tallied to pull even. Cameron Lao-Gosney got Lehigh on the board at 8:17, making a strong move from behind the net before beating Dutton in front. Ohio State got one back, but Gosney answered at 1:03 following a similar move from behind the goal.
Early in the second quarter, DiMaria set junior Adam Johnston up beautifully in front of the crease. Johnston did the rest, finishing the one-timer past Dutton high to make it 3-3.
Dominique Alexander helped Ohio State regain a 4-3 lead, but the Mountain Hawks converted a broken play on the man advantage to again pull even. A loose ball looked to be a turnover, but the ball eventually bounced to Fantoni all alone in front of the goal. He easily beat Dutton high to make it 4-4 with 7:20 on the clock.
Ohio State responded to go back up, 5-4, with 1:11 remaining as Jeff Tundo fired a rocket that beat Carr low. That score stood heading into the half.
The Buckeyes came out of the locker room on fire, scoring at 12:57 of the third quarter before converting a transition opportunity just over a minute later into their largest lead of the game, 7-4.
Senior Jonathan Stumpf made a nice move to free himself before finding the top right corner of the goal to pull Lehigh back within 7-5 at 10:34, but the Buckeyes responded with a pair - including a man-up tally - to make it 9-5 after three quarters of play.
Lehigh held the 35-29 shot advantage while finishing with 28 ground balls to 23 for the Buckeyes. The Mountain Hawks were 15-of-17 on clearing attempts while Ohio State was 16-of-19. Lehigh was a perfect 1-of-1 on man-up opportunities and the Buckeyes were 1-of-2.
“We just need to get better; we’re still a young group that lacks a lot of big game experience,” said Cassese. “That’s what we got tonight - big game experience against a top team in the country. We learned a ton.”
The Mountain Hawks return to action on Saturday when they travel to Yale to face the No. 18 Bulldogs. Lehigh returns home one week from Saturday (Mar. 19) to host Presbyterian at 12 p.m. at the Ulrich Sports Complex.