Wins have been hard to come by this season for the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team.
In search of their second victory, the No. 19 Buckeyes (1-3, 0-0) are set to make their way to Hempstead, N.Y., where they are scheduled to take on the Hofstra Pride (2-2, 0-0).
Despite losing three games to opponents currently ranked in the top 10 — No. 4 Johns Hopkins, No. 7 Penn State and No. 10 Massachusetts, who combined have an 11-1 record — senior goaltender Greg Dutton said the season is far from lost for the Buckeyes.
“1-3 is not the ideal start we wanted to have,” Dutton said. “Everything is still in front of us. Everything that we want to achieve this year is still possible. So that’s been our mental focus and we’ve been practicing hard, getting ready for a good Hofstra team.”
Coming off an 11-8 loss to the Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium last Saturday, faceoffs became a point of discussion once again after OSU won only six of 22 draws. On the season, OSU has won only 35.1 percent of its faceoffs, ranking 63rd out of 67 teams.
OSU coach Nick Myers said he likes the way freshman midfielder Jake Withers has developed (winning 41.2 percent of his draws), but winning more faceoffs as a team is going to be key in order to get the offense more opportunities.
“I really like the way Jake is coming along,” Myers said. “Obviously the goal is 50 (percent) or higher … that’s going to be a key, creating ground ball opportunities, and trying to win that battle. At the same time, we rode the ball really well last week. We want to continue to execute our riding game and find other ways to create more possessions for our offense.”
On the other hand, Hofstra, which has won 53.9 percent of its faceoffs, has been a team heading in the right direction lately.
After starting the season 0-2 — including a home loss to Marquette (who lost to OSU 11-7) — Hofstra has won two straight games against Fairfield and Georgetown.
Led by sophomore attackman Sam Llinares, who has 16 points through four games, Hofstra boasts a balanced offense that includes five players with five goals or more.
Myers said slowing down the Hofstra offense will be just one of the keys to picking up a victory Saturday.
“They have great inside play, very capable middies,” Myers said. “There are going to be a number of keys to the game. We’ve spent time focused on the things we need to improve upon, while at the same time addressing some of the strengths of what they do.”
The Buckeyes will be looking for more offensive production to compliment junior midfielder Jesse King, who was named ECAC Offensive Player of the Week after registering six points on four goals and two assists against the Nittany Lions last weekend.
The Victoria, British Columbia native was also named to the Tewaaraton Award watch list last week. The Tewaaraton is awarded annually to the most outstanding American college lacrosse player.
Dutton said even though it is still early in the season, this game is very important for the Buckeyes.
“It’s a really important game,” Dutton said. “To get a win on the road in a place like Hofstra, in Long Island, the hot bed of lacrosse, would be a great feeling and great for the team morale.”
Game time is set for Saturday at 1 p.m.
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