In its first scrimmage of the new year, the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team put the skills and training it fostered in the off-season into practice, coming away with a 11-4 win in a practice game against The Hill Academy on Saturday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Midfielder David Planning scored late in the first quarter, bringing the Buckeyes to a 3-0 lead against Hill — a Concord, Ontario, high school — but the senior credited his younger teammates for stepping up during the scrimmage.
“We have guys playing their butts off coming off the bench,” Planning said. “Everyone’s playing really well.”
Among the younger players, freshman midfielder Trevor Hodgins scored twice in the first half and once in the second.
Hill Academy fought back with goals in the third quarter, making the score 10-4 OSU, but sophomore attackman JT Blubaugh scored with nine minutes remaining in the fourth, extending the lead and sealing the exhibition for the Buckeyes.
Playing in the first season of Big Ten men’s lacrosse, the Buckeyes face an upcoming schedule that includes an exhibition against Duke and matchups with Detroit and Robert Morris, but plan to focus on improving more every day leading up to its first game, coach Nick Myers said.
“We certainly hope to be in better shape than our opponents to start the year,” Myers said. “We’re focused on the task at hand. Our men have worked really hard in the offseason.”
On the sidelines during a second-quarter time out, assistant coach Brad Ross told players to “just be patient, be disciplined,” and his words reflect the team’s season mantra, “Grind.”
“A lot of people hear the word and think of something that’s uncomfortable, maybe not enjoyable. But I think for our men, what we’ve defined, it’s a process,” Myers said. “That grind is representative of the day-to-day, focusing on the task at hand and getting your mind right.”
Taking steps toward that focus, the team started its first “big/little brother” program, which Planning said benefits both freshmen and seniors.
“It’s awesome when you see your guy out there playing well, or when you know he’s got something to work on,” Planning said. “You’re always there for him and he’s there for you, too.”
Following the game, the team hosted the annual Lacrosse Festival. Players signed autographs and shot around with young fans, which Planning said was a fun experience.
“Playing the game as a kid, you grew up watching the big guys play, and now you’re one of the big guys,” Planning said.
OSU is set to take on the two-time defending national champion Duke Blue Devils in its final exhibition game on Saturday in Durham, N.C.