On Saturday April 30, the Wooster Fighting Scots men’s lacrosse team squared off for the final time this season against the Oberlin Yeomen in front of their home fans at John P. Papp Stadium. Although the Scots had not made the playoffs, they were playing for something else: to give their seniors the opportunity to sign off with a win. Unfortunately, the playoff-bound Yeomen had other plans and defeated the feisty Scots by a score of 16-12.
Oberlin, who was 11-4 going into the season finale, presented significant challenges for the Scots. As Ben Kennedy ’22 explained, “Oberlin is a very well coached team and has had a lot of success this year by primarily running a zone defense. One challenge presented by the Oberlin defense was switching between man-to-man coverage and a zone defense.” Despite the Yeomen’s defensive prowess, it was Wooster who scored first, as Charlie Ballou ’24 launched the ball into the back of the net to make it a 1-0 game. With 7:05 remaining, Ballou struck again – just 45 seconds after Oberlin had tied the game – to give the Scots a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately for the Scots, Oberlin controlled the rest of the first quarter, scoring three unanswered goals and seizing a 4-2 lead at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter played out in a similar fashion as the first, with Wooster drawing closer at the beginning of the quarter and Oberlin pulling away as play progressed. Just over two minutes into the quarter, Vinny DiLeo ’24 notched his 27th goal of the season to cut the Oberlin lead to one. With 10:40 to go in the half, the Yeomen stretched their lead to two with a goal by Michael Muldoon ’22; however, Ben Byars ’23 scored a Wooster goal 30 seconds later to bring the lead back to 5-4. The Yeomen responded with an aggressive offensive strategy, scoring four unanswered goals over the next four minutes. Down 8-4 with 5:50 remaining in the first half, Kennedy scored a crucial goal for the reeling Scots. Kennedy credited his goal to an “aggressive top-side dodge from one of my teammates which forced my defender to respect him as a shooter. This opened some space for him to pass me the ball and forced my defender to take a poor approach back to me, which made my job a lot easier. I took the space I saw down the right alley and was able to get my hands free for a shot, and thankfully it found the back of the net.” Despite this, Oberlin tacked on another goal, and the Yeomen went into the break with a 9-5 advantage.
The halftime talk seemed to benefit the Scots, as it was Wooster who struck first in the third quarter. Specifically, it was DiLeo scoring his second goal of the game to make it a 9-6 game with 11:23 to go in the period. However, this initial momentum was negated with an Oberlin goal 13 seconds later. The Scots, their resolve unaltered by the quick Oberlin strike, scored back-to-back goals thanks to Will Fink ’25 and Tyler Schroeder ’22 to bring the lead back to two with 9:47 remaining in the third. Oberlin responded with a string of three unanswered goals of their own over the next five-and-a-half minutes to make it a 12-8 lead. As was the case earlier in the quarter, the Scots refused to give up, as goals by Byars and Fink made it a 12-10 game. Although Oberlin scored a goal at the end of the quarter, it felt as if Wooster was gaining ground on the Yeomen.
Just after one minute of play in the fourth quarter, Riley Schulze ’25 seized the Wooster momentum and notched his fourth goal of the season to bring the Scots within two goals of the Yeomen. Two-and-a-half minutes later, however, Oberlin scored a crucial goal to grow its lead to 14-11 with 11:24 to play. Kennedy again stopped the bleeding, scoring his second goal of the season and 16th of the year with 7:14 remaining. Unfortunately for the Scots, Oberlin executed its confusing defense to near perfection over the remaining minutes of the game, as the Scots were unable to score for the rest of the game. Instead, the rest of the quarter was all Oberlin, as the Yeomen notched three consecutive goals to capture their 16-12 win at John P. Papp Stadium.
The Scots, who finished the season with a 6-10 overall record, did not qualify for the playoffs. Though this loss left a bitter taste in their mouths, the Scots are optimistic about their future. Kennedy believed that this year’s iteration of Scots’ men’s lacrosse “took some of the greatest steps forward that I’ve seen over the course of my time here. We were a young team with a challenging schedule, and I think the young talent on this team is set up very well for the future due to the steps we took this year.” Meanwhile, since this was the last game of the season, it was the last time that Wooster’s men’s lacrosse seniors took the field. Kennedy expressed nothing but gratitude to his teammates for a terrific experience. “I am incredibly thankful to have played my final season with the group we had this year and am lucky to have played with so many great players and great people along the way. I’ll look back on these four years of playing lacrosse and never forget how much fun they were.”
Congratulations to the Fighting Scots on a terrific season and to the seniors on their unforgettable careers!