With the regionals now in the rearview mirror, inevitably we're going to ponder what might have been. I posted my reflections on the Denver game in the Regionals Thread, but that post is essentially gone due to the high volume of posts there. Reposting it here:
I'm not sure that rust was the top factor. Denver was brilliant on defense. Very few quality chances allowed. Few, if any, second chances allowed.
In turn, Ohio State was just as determined to shut down the Denver offense, allowing only 13 shots on goal for the whole game. The Buckeyes did what they set out to do. If you had told me about the shot totals before the game, I would have really liked our chances. But just maybe the conservative game plan made the Buckeye offense a little less potent, thus playing into Denver's hands.
In the end, I believe that our game plan did give us great chance to win. Unfortunately Denver made one tremendous play to flip the result. Live, it looked like the Buckeye defense blundered, simply losing track of the right wing. But on replay, we saw that Denver's #5 came all the way from a Left Defense position to join the rush on the right side. As such, losing track of #5 becomes a little more understandable.
I'd be fascinated to know if sneaking the extra attacker into the rush was an intentional tactic. The pass on the primary assist was so precise, and the timing so perfect, it looked like something Pioneers had practiced. If so, good for them.
Then again, maybe #5 was guilty of a late change, hustled like crazy to get back into position, then partnered in a nice piece of improvisation. We'll never know. The Pioneers are unlikely to own up, and probably shouldn't.
It's a tough memory from a Buckeye perspective. But it was the play of the day.