Buckeyes Ice Denver's Season with OT Heartbreaker, 10-9

Buckeyes Ice Denver's Season with OT Heartbreaker, 10-9

Buckeyes Ice Denver's Season with OT Heartbreaker, 10-9

Buckeyes Ice Denver's Season with OT Heartbreaker, 10-9

On a gorgeous Denver Sunday afternoon, a star was born. Unfortunately for the University of Denver Pioneers, it was on the visiting Ohio State Buckeyes' roster.

With time expiring in overtime, OSU freshman attackman Mario Ventiquattro helped piggyback the Buckeyes to the top spot in their division (4-0) with a career day and game-winning goal with 11 seconds remaining. The win also ensures that the Pioneers will not be making an encore performance at the NCAA tournament - at least not this season.

For two teams headed in entirely different directions, the rivals' twelfth meeting was the only true common ground shared as the Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) foes battled to an extra frame in front of over 2,000 fans at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

OSU was led to the thrilling victory on the sticks of Ventiquattro (3 goals, 1 assist), who nearly doubled his point total on the year with his efforts in the game, along with fellow freshman, midfielder James Green (3, 0) and sophomore attackman, Jeff Ryan (2, 2). Junior transfer (Onodaga C.C.) Stefan Schroder also came up with seven huge stops in net, including one in OT, in route to the team's fourth consecutive league victory.

The Buckeyes were very energized from the onset. Their sidelines were extremely vocal throughout the game, and they played with a sense of passion and vigor that the Pioneers were rarely able match.

On their way to a dominating first half performance, OSU got off to a quick start that saw them take a 5-1 lead into the break. The Scarlet and Gray then withstood two second half 3-0 runs by the Pioneers to eventually gut out their second conference road win in three days.

It was apparent that the Buckeyes came in knowing exactly what they would need to do to stay unbeaten in league play and afford the Pioneers their fourth loss at home this season. They were well prepared for everything Denver threw at them, from their usually exceptionally effective zone ride, to a large assortment of defensive looks and varied offensive sets.

The two teams exchanged goals early with Ohio State singeing twine first on a backside sneak by Ryan, who then beat the Denver goalie, senior Jeb Hollingsworth, with a bounce shot to his stick-side.

OSU took a 2-1 lead after Ryan recorded his second goal about three minutes later on a play that was almost identical to the first, this time assisted by the team's leader in points, Joel Dalgarno (22, 21). Although Dalgarno played a tremendous role as the quarterback of the Buckeye offense, today was not his day as he twanged all three of his shots on goal off of the pipe, making the assist his only tally on the score sheet.

From there, the game was a bit of a chess match between the two coaching staffs that left the crowd somewhat bored, almost begging for someone to blink first. The Pioneers were willing to play a no-pressure zone on defense that allowed Ohio State to simply possess the ball at 'X' and pose no real threat. Ohio State was content just holding the ball, taking several stalling calls, and holding the ball behind the goal until time was limited for a couple unsuccessful final shots in the first and second quarters.

In the end, this probably hurt DU the most because they were already behind and needed possessions to close the gap, and because the lack of action took Pioneer fans out of the game more and more as time passed, which then did not provide any sort of spark for Denver when they desperately needed one to jumpstart their offense.

The second half was a stark contrast to the first as Denver reinvigorated the audience and immediately went on their first of two 3-0 runs, possessing the ball for almost eight straight minutes and cutting the OSU lead to one, 5-4.

The Buckeyes finally got a crack at some offense with their first extended possession coming with about seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. They answered DU's output with back-to-back goals to close out the quarter up 7-4.

Two of Denver's midfielders, senior Ryan Shaughnessy (2, 0) and sophomore Joey Murray (3, 1), tried their absolute best to will their team to the win, each scoring two goals in the fourth quarter. Murray's second of the quarter, third on the day, with 36 seconds in regulation tied the game up (9-9) for the first time since the eight and a half minute mark of the first quarter (1-1), and sent the game to overtime.

But Ohio State seemed to have the answer every time. Although Denver took their momentum and the crowd's roaring support into the OT on their side, and even got off three high-quality shots in the extra time, the game was always the Buckeyes to lose.

Off of a turnover, one of Ohio State's defenseman caught Denver in transition, ran the ball down the field to clear, made a pass to midfielder Josh Funk, who then found Ryan waiting for the pass. Ryan briefly danced in front of DU senior defenseman David Hahn, and then found Ventiquattro on Hollingsworth's backside before he dove and stuffed it home to seal up the victory, 10-9.

While Ventiquattro bolted to his sideline and his team stormed the field in sheer delight, Denver's defense sat on the ground dejected with their heads down realizing their season, and any chance of postseason play, was just lost.

The win improves Ohio State's record to 8-4 on the season, while Denver, who never once led in the game, again falls to .500 at 7-7.

Up next for the Buckeyes is the game for all the marbles, as they host another league rival, No.13-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday, April 28 at 1 p.m. The winner of the game will almost certainly win the GWLL and therefore, represent the conference with the automatic qualifier in the NCAA tournament.

Finally, Ohio State will welcome the Army Black Knights to Columbus on May 6 in a game that could have at-large bid implications for both teams.

Denver will finish out its disappointing season with a Saturday evening game against in-state rival Air Force at 7:30 p.m., followed by a trip to Philadelphia on May 5, as they close out the year against the always-tough Quakers of the University of Pennsylvania.

Photos: Tim Head

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    by (#134864) on 4/24/07 @11:32AM
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    by (#125413) on 4/26/07 @10:01AM
Ohio State is getting good at everything.
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    by (#136419) on 4/26/07 @10:10AM
If they did, and they did well, people would have to say the same thing about the University of Florida. However, due to beating Ohio State in both football and basketball, people would have to say that, all around, Florida is getting EVEN BETTER AT ALMOST EVERYTHING.
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    by (#136419) on 4/24/07 @1:47PM
This Saturday, Ohio State hosts Great Western League Rival Notre Dame at home at 1:00 P.M. Ohio State is 4-0 in league play and Notre Dame is 3-0.
Ohio State is unranked and Notre Dame is #13. This matchup isn't just for the Great Western League Championship, but also for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The winner will get an automatic berth, while the loser most likely will not make the tournament.

I am calling Notre Dame to win. I think they have more talent, have a coach who has coached in more big games, and have played a tougher schedule. How about everyone else?
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Im pumped
    by (#97931) on 4/24/07 @3:28PM
Im going to this game. I would like to see Ohio State win it because im from Ohio but i think Notre Dame will win. They just have a better team altogether. OSU's goalie hasnt been doing good, i dont know why they dont use Bolen from Landon like they did last year.
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    by (#136419) on 4/24/07 @3:43PM
It seems like, in this day and age, Landon produces more college players than any other high school in the country.
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    by (#91657) on 4/25/07 @12:42AM
I haven't been to any games, but Schroeder is a really incredible keeper. From OCC out of Syracuse, part of their dominant team last year. I'm surprised he's not doing well, but I'm willing to bet he's had a better overall career than the Landon keeper, and OSU is willing to stick it out with him until he gets back on his game.
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