Photo of smiling guy in a suit

When the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team faced perennial powerhouse Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament on May 9, it felt a little bit like déjà vu to what the Buckeyes football team went through against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
  Just like their football brethren, the lacrosse team was facing a team with a national championship pedigree from a seemingly unbeatable conference. Duke had won the national title in 2013 and 2014 and had a string of eight consecutive national semifinal appearances. Like the SEC, the ACC and the Blue Devils seemed to be the cream of crop with all five of their teams qualifying for the postseason.
   And finally like the football team, no one gave Ohio State much of a chance. Final score: Ohio State 16, Duke 11.
  “Not many people believed we could win that game,” said senior defensive midfielder Ryan Borcherding, whose team lost to Denver 15-13 in the second round on May 16 to finish 12-7 overall. “A lot of people had written us off before the game. To be honest, I think Duke had written us off before the game, too.
  “We knew we had the talent and the dedication to win that game. We surprised them. We brought our best game we’ve played the whole year. We took care of business and brought them down.”
  Borcherding said that attitude is something Ohio State had been building toward over the last four years.
  “We have a very different culture now than we had four years ago,” he said. “We’ve been doing a lot of physical training but we’ve added this mental component. We changed some of the things that haven’t been working in the past and that kind of got us to this point.”
  Through the first three months of the year, it looked like the Chinese calendar had marked 2015 as “The Year of The Buckeye.” Ohio State captured four national titles in the first three months of the year, with the football, wrestling, synchronized swimming and pistol teams all taking the top spot in their respective fields.
  Borcherding hoped the men’s lacrosse team could have added to that total. A week after shocking Duke, Ohio State jumped out to a 6-1 lead against fourth-seed Denver but the Pioneers outscored the Buckeyes 5-1 in the second quarter. After taking a 14-10 lead in the fourth quarter, Denver held off one last Ohio State surge to move on to the national semifinals on May 23.
  The loss marked the second time the Buckeyes were on the cusp of making the semifinals in Borcherding’s career. In 2013, Ohio State lost to Cornell 16-6 in a quarterfinal.
  “You don’t come to Ohio State without thinking about winning the conference championship and winning a national title,” Borcherding said.
  Borcherding (Dublin Coffman) is one of five Columbus natives on the men’s lacrosse team who were looking for a longer run, joining junior midfielder Tae Kim (Worthington Kilbourne), sophomore attacker J.T. Blubaugh (DeSales) and midfielder Tyler Pfister (Upper Arlington) and freshman midfielder Austin Seiple (Dublin Coffman).
  There was never a doubt where Borcherding wanted to play in college. Ohio State’s traditions are rooted deep in the Borcherding family bloodlines. Not only did his parents, Tim and Debbie Borcherding and a host of aunts and uncles attend the university, but his great grandfather was Novice Fawcett, who served as the university’s president from 1956-72 and for whom The Fawcett Center is named.
  “Being from Dublin, Ohio, it was kind of my dream put on any kind of Ohio State jersey. It didn’t matter if it was football, hockey, lacrosse or baseball,” he said with a laugh. “For me, my chance was in playing lacrosse. To get a chance to do what you love was kind of a dream come true for me.”
  The dream, however, came with a large price tag. In high school, Borcherding ended his career as the Shamrocks all-time leader in goals (166) and points and was named the OCC Player of the Year and an U.S. Lacrosse All-American.
  However, Borcherding was told when he arrived on campus he would be needed on the defensive end and not the offensive side.
  “It was definitely a shock. I had never played defense at all growing up. I was strictly an offensive guy,” said Borcherding, who was a three-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete, two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and ECAC All-Academic team choice his first three seasons. “My freshman year I was a fish out of water but the longer I worked on it the better I got.”
  Borcherding said the life lessons he learned playing lacrosse for Ohio State will carry him far beyond the playing field.
  “You have to get behind the idea the team comes first,” he said. “Some players can pick that attitude up in a year; some guys don’t get that in four years here.
  “That’s definitely going to help me do different things on down the line. I’m not afraid to do things outside of my comfort zone.”


Appears in Issue: