“Win and you’re in.”
It’s safe to say that phrase is lingering in the minds of players and coaches for the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team. With a win at the fifth annual “Showdown in the ‘Shoe” this coming Saturday, the team would punch its ticket to the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament.
The Buckeyes will face-off against Air Force at 11 a.m. live on the Big Ten Network right before the OSU spring football game, for which about 60,000 presale tickets have already been distributed.
The team isn’t nervous about playing in Ohio Stadium, coach Nick Myers said.
Myers said it was a challenge last week against Michigan in their stadium, but overall the team is excited about another opportunity.
“This is the fifth year I’ve been a part of this event, and it’s like no other in the game of lacrosse,” Myers said. “I think it really speaks to the commitment the university has made to get behind this game. A lot of fans are being exposed to what we feel like is a great game and it’s just huge for Midwest lacrosse.”
If the Buckeyes win against Air Force Saturday, the team will make a strong stance for the No. 3 seed in ECAC tournament. With Loyola (Maryland) undefeated in the conference, the win would set up a possible back-to-back matchup with Fairfield University in the last matchup of the regular season, as well as the first-round game of the ECAC tournament for the Buckeyes.
The winner of the ECAC tournament will get an automatic bid into the 2012 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse tournament.
The ECAC tournament begins on May 2 in Denver.
“We’re hungry,” Myers said. “I think we realize how close we are, we just feel like we still haven’t really played our best.”
The team hit a rough spot in the middle of the season with a record of 1-5 in the month of March.
Two big victories against Hobart College and Michigan in the past two weeks have opened the doors to the postseason for the Buckeyes.
With only two games remaining in the season, senior midfielder Brock Sorensen said the team understands the situation they are in.
“I think there has been more of a focus as the season has gone on,” Sorensen said. “Our defense has continued to play great for us and we know that is the backbone of our team. It’s just getting our offense to click and getting all 44 guys to chip in any way that they can.”
Sorensen has recorded nine goals this season, the highest in his Buckeye career.
The defense is ranked 10th in team defense in the NCAA, only allowing 7.75 goals a game.
Redshirt senior defenseman Matt Kawamoto said stat resulted from a lot of hard work put in by his teammates this year. Everyone is buying into the game plan and everyone is just staying focused to that goal, Kawamoto said.
Kawamoto was announced as a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior Class award on April 4. The winner will be announced during the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship weekend, which will be held May 26-28 in Boston.
“To be put in the same category with those other ten guys, it’s a really huge honor,” Kawamoto said.