DELAWARE, Ohio-- One thing was made abundantly clear on Sunday at Selby Stadium. One bad quarter doesn't have to determine your fate.
Ohio Wesleyan came out of the gates strong, leading 7-1 midway through the second period but the fourth-ranked Big Red stormed back, outscoring the Battling Bishops 11-1 over the final three quarters. The result was a 12-8 victory for fourth-ranked Denison, putting them alone atop the standings in the North Coast Athletic Conference at 11-1 overall and 6-0 in league play.
The Battling Bishops built their lead by sniping from long range as Luke Leyden accounted for four of OWU's seven early goals. Despite the deficit, Denison was winning faceoffs, and in the second quarter, they began to force some turnovers. With just under seven minutes to play in the second, Ohio Wesleyan's Conor Caffrey turned it over and Hannibal George was there with one of his team-leading five ground balls. George started the fastbreak and connected with Spencer Butler for his 35th goal of the season.
Two minutes later, the Big Red's spirits got a big lift as junior Ben Duhoski led another fast break resulting in the third goal of the season for the long pole. DU held Ohio Wesleyan scoreless over the final 8:29 of the second quarter. That extended throughout the entire third quarter and the majority of the fourth. By the time OWU got back on the scoreboard with 2:45 left in the game, Denison flipped the script and was leading 12-7.
During the 10-0 run by the Big Red, Liam Rooney scored once and assisted on three of the goals. Butler accounted for four of the 10 goals, running his season total to 38. Rooney surpassed the 50 assist plateau. The senior has 22 goals and 51 assists (73 points) in 12 games.
Penalties did not factor heavily into the outcome as the two teams combined to go 1-for-7 when man-up. Denison's lone extra-man score came with 12:11 left in the third when Brooks Davy converted on a pass from Rooney.
Denison outshot Ohio Wesleyan 39-29 while also winning the ground ball battle, 26-18. First-year goalie Stephen Paras got his first taste of the rivalry and settled in as the game progressed. He finished with five saves while playing all 60 minutes. OWU starter Andrew Halmi played the first 37 minutes. He allowed seven goals while making five saves. He was relieved by Joey Sichenzia who played the final 23 minutes. He gave up five goals while posted two saves.
This was the 97th meeting between Denison and Ohio Wesleyan in men's lacrosse. Denison leads the all-time series, 52-45 and has had the advantage of late, going 12-3 over the last 10 years.
Denison returns to action on Wednesday (April 19) when they travel to Gambier, Ohio for a 4 p.m. start against the Lords.