Loyola of Maryland attacker Pat Spencer knew beforehand that every shot and even every passing attempt that he would take in an NCAA first-round game against Ohio State would come hard and be earned.
Spencer, though, probably didn’t think Buckeyes defenseman Ben Randall would play so close to him for 60 minutes that he could hear him breathe. Or that goalkeeper Tom Carey would do a pretty good impression of a brick wall.
Randall and Carey and the rest of the defense were that stout in weathering a storm of 44 shots to help Ohio State pull off a 7-4 victory over the Greyhounds on Sunday at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes (14-4) advanced to a quarterfinal game against Duke (13-4) on Saturday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
“When it came down to 6-on-6 in the box on defense, I thought we were doing a good job," Ohio State coach Nick Myers said. “It’s exciting. Today, we were struggling to get into rhythm (offensively). I’m proud. We proved we could win in different ways."
Randall, a junior from Mason, pulled off one of the most impressive individual performances in any of the eight first-round games in holding Spencer to 1-for-6 shooting.
Spencer, a sophomore, is one of five finalists for national player of the year. He finished the season with 28 goals and 55 assists.
“Definitely, I wanted to take away his vision and make him go to the cage," Randall said. “I didn’t want to give him too much room. When he gets a running start, that’s when he gets dangerous. He’s a two-handed player and I didn’t want to overcommit."
Loyola’s other high scorers also were locked down. Zack Sirico was 1 for 5, Jay Drapeau 0 for 5, Alex McGovern 1 for 3 and Brian Sherlock 0 for 9.
Spencer chose to give all the credit to Carey in goal rather than Randall.
“We got a lot of good looks," he said. “We got into a dogfight with the goalie."
It might have been the finest hour for Carey, a redshirt senior. He made 12 saves, but also recovered a handful of loose balls after scrambles in front of the net.
“It definitely helps to get a few (saves) early," Carey said. “It helps to get momentum."
The Greyhounds (10-6) outshot the Buckeyes 44-22 and forced 19 turnovers.
Loyola coach Charley Toomey said Ohio State would be in great shape going into the game against Duke.
“I felt whoever came out of this game was going to be battle-tested for the next round," he said. “Ohio State will be ready. Hats off to Ohio State. They competed and they played hard. I don’t think they did anything we weren’t prepared for. We got 44 shots. We hit the numbers we wanted to hit. It just didn’t happen. That’s lacrosse."
The Buckeyes played most of the game with a two-goal buffer. They led 4-2, 5-3 and 6-4 in the third quarter on one goal by Eric Fannell and two by Tre Leclaire. Jack Jasinski made it 7-4 with nine seconds remaining.