March 19, 2019, is a day Max Weese said he will never forget.

The 2015 Hilliard Darby High School graduate scored twice that day in a 15-8 win over visiting Wittenberg to become the first member of the Ohio Northern men's lacrosse team to reach 100 goals.

"It was a moment of accomplishment and pride and it made all of the hard work and battles with injuries mean so much more," said Weese, who finished his career with the Polar Bears with 111 goals and 27 assists in 62 games.

"The first thing I saw was all of my teammates rushing toward me and we were all celebrating and hugging. Then it was announced and I saw everyone in the stands going crazy, too. They gave me a ball after the game and my mom got it framed right away."

Weese scored twice in the first 11 minutes, 11 seconds of the game after going scoreless in the previous six quarters. He said it was just a matter of time before he reached 100 goals.

"I'm in a position to get all of the glory because I'm in the crease and it's my job to shoot," he said. "I get the credit and glory, but my teammates have to get me the ball with a chance to score. So (reaching 100 goals) was important to them, too. I couldn't have done it without all of my teammates through my four years."

The Polar Bears finished 13-5 overall and 6-3 (third) in the Ohio Athletic Conference. They reached the OAC tournament championship game before losing to John Carroll 13-5.

A fourth-year program, Ohio Northern has never had a losing season. The Polar Bears went 8-7 in 2016, 9-7 in 2017 and 14-3 in 2018 when they were co-OAC champions in the regular season.

"It was quite a ride and so much fun being there for the start of the program," said Weese, who earned his bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical and healthcare business. "We really wanted to win the OAC regular season and tournament this year, but we came up a bit short."

Weese's offensive stats were down this year because of injuries. He finished with 17 goals and six assists.

"I had a herniated disc in my back and missed most of the preseason," he said. "Basically, I played in man-up time and I didn't play when we had safe leads. I also had elbow surgery I had to overcome earlier (in my career), so I did miss some time and had to work hard through rehabilitation."

He was a role model for his teammates even in rehab, according to Mason Schmeling, who was a sophomore midfielder with Ohio Northern last season and is a 2016 Darby graduate.

"Seeing (Weese) work as hard as he did in rehabilitation really pushed and motivated me," said Schmeling, who suffered a left ACL tear in February 2017 and then tore the meniscus in the same knee in August 2017 and October 2017. "I really leaned on him, as well as our coaches and medical staff. It was inspirational to watch him work at it."

Schmeling got back on the field this past spring, scoring nine goals with one assist in 17 games.

"It felt great to get back out there and not worry about the knee, so next year I want to be a starter and obtain all-league honors and we definitely want to win the OAC tournament, which would put us in the (NCAA Division III) postseason," Schmeling said.

When both played for Darby, the Panthers went 15-4 in 2015. That still stands as the most wins in a season in program history.

"I'm not surprised that Max had such a strong career at Ohio Northern and that he was able to come back from his injuries because I saw his work ethic at Darby," said Rob Schmeling, the Panthers' coach and Mason's father. "I saw him come in as a chubby freshman and mature into a lacrosse junkie. He was dedicated and he's still second in the program with 248 career points. He was always early to practice and late to leave."

The Polar Bears have found success in building their program by recruiting central Ohio.

Also on the roster in the spring were 2019 graduate Jackson Pfister (Upper Arlington), junior Chris DiMarco (Thomas Worthington), sophomores Mack Calhoun (Bexley), Hunter Hudgins (Westerville Central), Wes Markwoood (UA) and Andrew Staley (Delaware) and freshmen Ben Gawronski (Dublin Scioto), Nick Gosnell (Dublin Jerome), Matt Huizenga (New Albany) and Joe Wasik (Worthington Kilbourne).

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek