OWU falls to rival Denison to close regular season


By Tony Carter

For the Gazette

The Ohio Wesleyan men’s lacrosse squad could not muster a comeback against fierce rival Denison, losing 10-8 on Saturday at Selby Stadium in Delaware.

Entering the matchup, with both teams 7-0 in North Coast Athletic Conference action, the top seed for the upcoming NCAC tournament was up for grabs — a seed the Big Red clinched thanks in part to a 6-0 third-quarter run.

The Battling Bishops were rolling en route to their final regular-season game.

After starting 3-3 on the year, OWU hadn’t lost a contest since March 16, winning eight games in a row. Denison entered the showdown on a seven-game streak of its own, adding even more fuel to a high-octane, back-and-forth game.

Early in the first quarter, OWU’s defensive unit went to work, bothering the Denison attackers, resulting in easy clears. Ohio Wesleyan freshman attacker Wade Beckstrom scored the game’s first goal with 8:25 remaining in the first quarter.

Following Denison’s faulty offensive play, the Big Red scored on three straight possessions.

Denison attacker Tommy Quinson managed to spin out of trouble, pump-faking two defenders on the way to an impressive goal. Nate Kay then scored a man-up goal, with Luke Fisher scoring the very next possession. Denison showcased impressive ball movement, taking its time, and using the entire 80-second shot clock.

Just as Denison went on a run, OWU responded mightily, scoring on back-to-back possessions with less than a minute left in the quarter. Junior attacker Joey Wiseman fired a rocket past Denison goalie Andrew Albert. Sophomore midfielder Noah Citek won the following face-off and freshman midfielder Henry Ross scored with three seconds left to tie the game at three heading into the second.

A sloppy second quarter ensued as the game got more chippy.

Nick Vance scored for Denison at the 13:05 mark and AJ Boxler was sent to the penalty box for 30 seconds for pushing. Wesleyan took advantage, with Beckstrom scoring a man-up goal to tie the game at four. Junior attacker Carson Geier was credited with the assist.

Junior attacker Spencer Amacher scored off a well-designed pick play to put the Bishops up 5-4 after a penalty-plagued second quarter.

Out of the break, Denison went on a 3-0 run in under a minute, scoring a man-up goal before winning two straight face-offs resulting in two more goals. Denison’s stifling defense halted OWU attacks, not allowing many clears and causing multiple turnovers during the third. Denison kept the foot on the pedal, too, going on yet another 3-0 run between the five- and four-minute marks.

Sucking the air out of Selby, the Big Red led led 10-5 before Beckstrom earned a hat-trick, scoring his 3rd goal of the contest with 0:13 left to stop the bleeding.

Wiseman scored his second of the game to cut the lead to three in the fourth. Citek won the following face-off, leading to another goal by Beckstrom as OWU used a quick 3-0 run of its own to make it a 10-8 game with half the quarter left.

Denison shut the door for the remainder of the period, though, collecting multiple stops. As OWU tried to make a push, it suffered two turnovers with under two minutes left and Denison held on and captured the regular season NCAC championship.

The cumulative statistics between the two teams were neck and neck.

Denison outshot OWU, 41-38. Denison suffered 20 turnovers compared to Ohio Wesleyan’s 19. The Big Red won the face-off battle, taking 11 out of 20 chances.

Beckstrom ended with four goals, Wiseman had two and Amacher and Ross scored one apiece. Junior goalkeeper Nathan George finished with 13 saves.

The Battling Bishops finished the season 11-4 overall and 7-1 in the conference to capture the second seed. They will host the third-seeded Kenyon Owls in the first round of the NCAC tournament Thursday at 7 p.m. at Selby Stadium.

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