No. 14 Denison extended its winning streak against rival Ohio Wesleyan to eight following an 11-8 victory over the Battling Bishops at Selby Stadium on Wednesday night.
Both teams entered the night in a tie for first-place in the North Coast Athletic Conference at 5-0. With the victory and one regular season conference game remaining on the schedule against Hiram, DU has clinched the top seed in what will be the first-ever NCAC men's lacrosse tournament.
Denison set the tone early and that would help them as the game progressed. In the opening quarter the Big Red took a 2-0 lead behind a goal from Teddy Powell and one from Nick Caravana off a pass from Chapin Speidel in the first man-up situation of the contest.
OWU would strike back with a goal from Pat Bassett just over a minute into the second quarter. Over the next 10 minutes of play the score would remain 2-1, in favor of the visiting Big Red.
That would change with 3:50 to play in the half when Powell scored his second unassisted goal of the game. Less than a minute later, Justin DeMarchi hit Eddie Vita who finished with a catch and shoot motion right in front of the goal, making it 3-1. After a cross-check penalty was called on Ohio Wesleyan's Chris Ostrowski, DU would convert its second man-up goal of the night thanks to another slick move by Vita.
Leading 5-1 with seemingly all of the momentum heading into the second half, a turnover on the Big Red with 30 seconds left led to a ground ball by OWU's Stephen Coyne who got the Bishops out in transition. With three seconds left Spencer Schnell uncorked a shot past Denison goalie Chris Thomas, trimming the DU lead to 5-2 heading into the second half.
In the third quarter, Ohio Wesleyan and Denison would combine for seven goals with the Bishops on the positive end of the equation, 4-3. That sent the two teams into the final 15 minutes of play with DU on top 8-6.
The score would stay that way until with 7:52 left, senior middie Tyler King scored his first goal of the night while spinning and falling away from the cage from about 10 yards out. The face-off X worked to Denison's advantage all night and Chip Phillips would win yet another face-off after King's goal. Denison would go to work quickly and after a shot by Vita sailed high, DU regained possession and just 21 seconds after King's goal, Chapin Speidel would equal Denison's largest lead at 10-6 with 7:31 remaining.
Ohio Wesleyan would respond once again with two straight goals that kept the comeback hopes alive for the home team. After Colin Short's third goal of the game with 3:20 to play, DU would gain possession off a face-off violation. Denison ran the clock to the 1:54 mark before a turning it over. The Battling Bishops would complete the clear and attempt a shot that sailed high over the cage. On the restart, OWU would commit its 14th turnover of the contest and that would lead to Blair Farinholt supplying Denison's final goal of the night and setting the final at 11-8.
Vita and Speidel paced the Denison offense with three goals and one assist each. Powell scored twice and chipped in one assist while Phillips led Denison with six ground balls and a spectacular 17-for-20 showing at the X. Also busying gobbling ground balls from his wing position was Ben Hearn who finished right behind Phillips with five.
Thomas posted four saves in 60 minutes of action for Denison. Ohio Wesleyan's Ryan McMahon ended with 11 saves.
DU nearly doubled up Ohio Wesleyan in the shot department, holding a 40-21 advantage. Denison was 2-for-5 in extra-man while the Bishops were 2-for-3. Denison will end its regular season on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they host Hiram College. Prior to the game Denison will honor its six-member senior class.
NOTABLE: Denison now leads the all-time series with Ohio Wesleyan, 47-42-1. DU has won eight consecutive match-up's with the Battling Bishops and 11 of the last 12 meetings which dates back to the 2005 season.