Tears flowed after the Ohio State men's lacrosse team lost to Maryland 9-6 in the national championship game May 29, but at least two local products had little time to reflect on the history they'd helped make.
Senior midfielders J.T. Blubaugh, a DeSales High School graduate, and Tyler Pfister, an Upper Arlington graduate, helped the Buckeyes defeat Towson 11-10 in a national semifinal May 27. One day later, both were taken in the Major League Lacrosse draft by the Ohio Machine, with Pfister being taken with the 63rd pick and Blubaugh with the 71st.
"There were definitely certain knowns going into May and now June," Pfister said. "The way the season was shaping up, we knew we could really make a run at (the national championship). I had talked with (Machine) coach Bear Davis along the way, too, and everything just came together at once.
"Overall, it's been pretty cool to be a part of all this."
Blubaugh and Pfister, who led five players from central Ohio on the Buckeyes' roster, both played in all 21 games as OSU went 16-5. Blubaugh had 16 goals and two assists, and Pfister added nine goals and five assists.
Junior midfielder Austin Seiple, a Dublin Coffman graduate, had two goals in nine games for the Buckeyes. Sophomore midfielder and Columbus Academy graduate Carter Kistler played in two games, and freshman attacker Nick Musci, a Westerville resident who attended DeSales, had three goals in eight games.
OSU hadn't advanced beyond a national quarterfinal before this year and was a combined 25-23 the previous three seasons.
"We got a sense we could do something special," said Pfister, who like Blubaugh is on the Machine's practice squad. "It's hard to say when I started feeling like that, but through the years we've built a nice foundation."
Three of the remaining four Ohioans on the Buckeyes' roster originally attended other colleges before coming to OSU. Junior goalie Alex Burgdorf of Cincinnati, went to Quinnipiac for two years; junior midfielder Bo Lori of Hudson went to Lehigh for a year; and junior defender Ben Randall of Mason played two years at Stony Brook.
The ninth Ohioan on the roster is Noah Best, a sophomore midfielder from Toledo St. Francis.
Despite such success recruiting in his own backyard, OSU coach Nick Myers said location is at best a secondary factor in picking players. Seven players are from the traditional East Coast hotbeds of Maryland and New York, and six are Canadian.
"I challenged my staff to evaluate the best players that North America has to offer," Myers told The Columbus Dispatch before the national semifinal. "Every one of these guys has a different story. Whether you are from Alabama, Maine, Ontario, (British Columbia) or right here in Ohio, we want to find the right people for Buckeye lacrosse."
Blubaugh, who coaches for the Resolute Lacrosse club organization, said before the national semifinal that he feels a responsibility as a top-tier player to educate younger players about the recruiting process.
"We're some of the first people they know playing major-college lacrosse," Blubaugh told the Dispatch. "They ask us a lot of questions about getting to major colleges."
Seiple is optimistic that OSU can be more than a flash in the pan, partly because two of OSU's top four scorers are eligible to return in freshman attacker/midfielder Tre LeClaire (49 goals) and junior attacker Colin Chell (21).
"We're trying to build a culture to maintain and sustain," Seiple said. "I was talking to a buddy about Columbus lacrosse and how it compares to the East Coast hotbeds. We have a lot of pride around here and we have good players and good teams, so we're thankful to be able to represent Columbus and the state of Ohio like we are.
"I hope this year shows kids in Ohio that if they value the game and are willing to challenge themselves and put in the work, they can achieve whatever they want."