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Men's Lacrosse Legends: Brian Driscoll

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beserkr29's picture
September 18, 2020 at 2:41pm

What if I told you that the best goalscorer in Ohio State lacrosse history set program records despite a lost season and a horrendous injury that left him permanently altered? And what if I told you that in his first year playing college lacrosse, this man would score more goals in a season than any other Buckeye in history. And that his record hasn't had any other player come within 10 goals of this record in 30 years?

ESPN tropes aside, Brian Driscoll is this week's men's lacrosse legend. And he truly was a legendary figure in a now bygone time. Driscoll was an electrifying player for a program that has had precious few of them. He could fill the goal like no one ever has. Were it not for a tragic injury, Driscoll would have set a record for points scored that would have been nearly untouchable.

Unlike with Terry Gilmore, not a whole lot of personal information is available for Brian Driscoll's early life and high school career. But I managed to scrounge the depths of the internet as best I could to get at least a blurry picture of what Driscoll did as a young man prior to his career at Ohio State.

Brian Driscoll hails from Huntington, N.Y., a town firmly in the Long Island hotbed of lacrosse. Huntington High School has a long history of success in lacrosse, with a string of county, Long Island, and state championships stretching back to the 1960s. The Blue Devils aren't quite as known as programs like Manhasset, Massapequa, West Islip, or Yorktown on Long Island, but they have been nearly as successful in terms of results.

Huntington has won two state championships in Class B, the second biggest classification in the state of New York. Though these titles came in 2005 and 2006, the actual state championship has only been held since 1972. Which means that, as he was during his Ohio State career, Brian Driscoll was making an impact well before lacrosse was really established as a mainstream sport.

As a junior and senior in high school, Driscoll helped Huntington High become the champions of Suffolk County during the 1963 and 1964 seasons. Both years, Huntington would fall in the championship game for Long Island, but these seasons set the tone for what was to come. Graduating in 1964, Driscoll matriculated to Ohio State in the fall. And waited.

One of the few disappointing things about Brian Driscoll's career at Ohio State is that it took such a long time to get started. Driscoll attended Ohio State at a time when varsity athletes were not permitted to compete until their sophomore year.

In 1965, rather than being on the field with the team as they played for a Midwestern Lacrosse Association title, Driscoll was playing games and scrimmages with the freshman team. None of his accomplishments counted as varsity statistics, and remain lost to history (based on my research, at least).

Thus, unlike Terry Gilmore and other names that will be profiled here, Brian Driscoll didn't begin his college career until the 1966 season. And it is this season that made Driscoll the original Super Sophomore, two years before the more well-known group would become legends.

After waiting for his chance, Brian Driscoll finally got to suit up for the Scarlet and Gray against Adelphi. The Buckeyes prevailed 6-5 in a close contest. This game would be the closest scoring margin for the remainder of a magical season, as only Towson would get within six goals of Ohio State at the final whistle. As for Brian Driscoll, the Adelphi win sparked the most prolific goalscoring season in Ohio State history. And it still isn't close.

Brian Driscoll went on an absurd run after the Buckeyes romped over C.W. Post 15-4, and beat the Towson Tigers 8-6. Against Notre Dame on April 2, 1966, Driscoll scored 7 goals to help Ohio State to an easy 15-4 victory.

Exactly a week later, Driscoll would score another 7 goals against the Columbus Lacrosse Club in the first of two contests the Buckeyes would have against them in 1966. Ohio State would outscore the Lacrosse Club 42-6 in those games. Those two 7-goal outbursts were tied with each other for the most goals scored in a game in Ohio State history. The record would stand for a lengthy two whole weeks.

Following a big 12-4 win over Ohio Wesleyan, Driscoll suited up for a game against Denison, a perennial power in the MLA. In a 17-11 victory over the Big Red, Driscoll set a new Ohio State record by scoring 8 goals. After helping Ohio State beat Sparty in a 17-2 drubbing, Driscoll and the Buckeyes took on Bowling Green.

Another MLA power, Bowling Green was no match for Ohio State, as Brian Driscoll scored 8 goals AGAIN in a 19-2 blowout. After setting an unheard of record by scoring 7 goals in two games, Driscoll had absolutely shattered that record by scoring 8 in another pair of games. This offensive onslaught had never been done before in Ohio State history. And, foreshadowing, would never be done again.

After record-setting performances in their first 11 games, the Buckeyes cruised to three easy wins, 12-2 over Oberlin, 11-4 over Kenyon, and 13-5 over Ohio Wesleyan.

With these victories, Ohio State completed its first, and only, undefeated season. Ohio State, thanks in large part to sophomore sensation Brian Driscoll, had won an MLA title, gone undefeated, and kept every opponent save one under 10 goals. Never before had an Ohio State team been so dominant, and no team since that 1966 season has even come close.

The subject of our review, Brian Driscoll, put on a show the likes of which we may never see again. In 14 games (officially), Driscoll racked up 60 goals and 20 assists, including 4 different record-breaking performances. Why officially? One of Ohio State's 14 victories was a 1-0 forfeit win over that team up north. Putting it in perspective, Driscoll averaged 6.1 points per actual game played in 1966, which is unheard of. The 80 points recorded by Driscoll were also an Ohio State record, one which would stand for over a decade. And it could have been even more!

After such a prolific season, Driscoll was given Honorable Mention All-American honors by the USILA, a tremendous honor for a Midwestern player. Also, see the Terry Gilmore post for more information on who would unseat Driscoll at the top of the record book.

The 1966 season would stand as the pinnacle of offensive achievement for both Ohio State and Brian Driscoll. Ohio State scored 186 goals and kept their opponents to 57 goals against. With an average margin of victory at around 10 goals per game, the Buckeyes were a juggernaut of a team, poised for years of dominance behind Driscoll's offensive wizardry. Then 1967 dawned.

At the start of his junior year, Brian Driscoll was on top of the world. He had just set an Ohio State record for goals and points scored in a single season. The Buckeyes had gone undefeated, won a conference championship, and cemented themselves as contenders in the MLA for years. Following the first game of the 1967 season, all dreams for the future were doused by the cold waters of reality. C.W. Post handed the Buckeyes a 5-2 defeat in the opener, a sobering loss after dizzying heights of 1966. Still, despite the defeat, a looming matchup with that team up north had Ohio State licking its chops.

After an easy forfeit victory in 1966, Ohio State finally got the chance to take the field against their arch rivals with Brian Driscoll in the fold. And what a day it would be. This game would feature the highest of highs and lowest lows for Driscoll. Ohio State would end up with a 20-2 victory over that team up north. Brian Driscoll would set yet another record for goals scored in a single game, blasting 9 goals into the net over the course of the afternoon.

Unfortunately, this would be the final game Brian Driscoll would play fully healthy. This massive victory came at the cost of a completely mangled leg for Driscoll. His leg was broken so badly during this contest that it would never fully heal.

After less than two games, Brian Driscoll's 1967 season was over. Ohio State would end the season 9-3, two of those losses coming in the MLA. After precipitous fall from the championship win in 1966, the Buckeyes hoped 1968 would hold better results. They would end the season disappointed.

After months of healing, and trying to recover his form, Brian Driscoll entered his senior season in 1968 having only played in 16 games. No freshman year, combined with an injury-shortened junior campaign, meant Driscoll had actually competed in a fraction of the games that others in his class had, as well as all of the players in the record books today. In 1968, Driscoll would hopefully end his career on a high note.

The difference between Brian Driscoll's output in 1968 and his first two seasons was stark. His sophomore year in 1966 was absolutely magical, while 1968 would be far more pedestrian. There were no more records for Driscoll in 1968, as his injury hampered greatly the skills he had worked so hard to acquire. Ohio State, similarly, struggled over the course of the 1968 campaign.

The Buckeyes started off the season by dropping two of their first three games, falling to Virginia and North Carolina. Ohio State then went on a 4-game win streak in the MLA, beating Ball State, Notre Dame, Sparty, and Oberlin. In the final third of the season, Ohio State would go 2-2, losing to Denison and Bowling Green, while defeating Kenyon and Ohio Wesleyan. They would end the season 7-4, nowhere near a title.

As for Driscoll, he would still end the season as the team leader in goals, scoring 30 times in 11 games.
He added 9 assists over the course of the season, for a total of 39 points, which also led the team. Driscoll's efforts garnered him 1st-team MLA honors, a nice recognition for all his accomplishments. In total, Brian Driscoll played in 26 games over 3 years. To put that in perspective, Ohio State played in 22 games during the 2017 season alone.

Brian Driscoll ended his career having scored 100 goals, and 30 assists. His 130 career points were surprisingly not a record at the end of 1968.

Teammate Cliff Murray, who will get his own profile, ended his career in 1968 with 138 points. Driscoll's 1966 season gives us a tantalizing view into what Driscoll could have accomplished in 3 years, had he been healthy.

With 60 goals during his first season, Brian remains the most prolific goalscorer in Ohio State history. The next closest player scored 51 goals in one more game.

His 80 points during the same season still is tied for second in program history for points in a single season. Driscoll's 100 goals still rank 12th in program history, with only one other player on the list limited to three seasons of varsity play. And that player only outscored Driscoll by a single tally.

Following his career at Ohio State, Brian went on to become an executive in marketing, ending up in North Carolina after bouncing around the country for a while. Driscoll remains an account manager, pitching training products for corporations.

Despite his career accomplishments, Driscoll still hasn't been enshrined in the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame. That's a real shame, given what he accomplished on the field in such a brief time. Driscoll is #20 in career points, despite actually playing only 26 games. Given 3 seasons and perfect health, he could have gotten very close to 300.


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