It was at halftime, when his team was fighting itself as much as the opponent, that Ohio State coach Nick Myers reminded the players how many times they had been able to recalculate and come back to win.
The Buckeyes were out of sync in trailing Towson by four goals after the first 30 minutes of an NCAA national semifinal. In the first minutes alone, they had two turnovers and drew two pushing penalties on the same possession in giving up a two-man-down goal.
They could have thought it just wasn’t their day when an error by an official gave the Tigers another goal even though replays clearly showed the ball had not crossed the goal line.
But Ohio State got a tying goal from freshman Tre Leclaire, a go-ahead goal from J.T. Blubaugh of DeSales, and what turned out to be the deciding goal from Johnny Pearson in coming away with an 11-10 victory Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
What fueled the offense was senior Jake Withers winning 10 of 13 face-offs in the second half.
The Buckeyes (16-4) will play for the national championship against Maryland (15-3) at 1 p.m. Monday.
“We got into halftime and really needed to take a hard look at ourselves," Myers said. “We said, ‘Look, we are going to close the gap in the third and win it in the fourth.’ That was a calming sense. We said, ‘Yes, we can do that.’ We had to establish some rhythm and tempo and give our defense a break."
Towson had held nine straight opponents to less than 10 goals and had won 29 straight games when leading after three quarters.
“In the second half we said take a deep breath and just run our offense, and it worked," Leclaire said.
The situation looked grim after attacker Joe Seider gave Towson an 8-3 lead with 11:46 left in the third quarter after an Ohio State turnover.
But the Buckeyes got consecutive goals by Austin Shanks, Leclaire, Shanks on a man advantage and Eric Fannell to cut the deficit to 8-7 with 4:11 left in the quarter.
Blubaugh scored from about 10 yards to the right of the goal with 10:26 left in the game to provide a 10-9 lead. Officials went to replay because the ball popped out of the net so quickly.
“I wasn’t sure there was replay in lacrosse, but we were pretty certain it was a goal," Blubaugh said. “We talked about what we were going to do on the next play."
The comeback, he said, was the result of patience.
“We just stacked plays on top of one another," he said. “You can’t come back from a four-goal deficit in one play."
Ryan Drenner got the Tigers (12-5) within a goal with 3:17 left.
Towson gained possession with 52 seconds left. A shot by Seider was wide with 15 seconds left, and defenseman Erik Evans secured the win by getting a ground ball with 3.5 seconds left.
“What a big-time stop," Myers said. “But we have one more to do. We haven’t finished business. We’ve got one more Monday."