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Ohio State men’s lacrosse readies for home opener against Detroit

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OSU then-freshman Erik Evans (43) defends a Maryland player in a game on April 18 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Lantern File Photo

OSU then-freshman Erik Evans (43) defends a Maryland player in a game on April 18 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Lantern File Photo

The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team is looking for payback from last year as it gets ready to square off against Detroit on Saturday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for the Buckeyes’ home opener.

Saturday’s game marks the first time the two teams have faced each other since the last year’s regular-season opener. Although the Scarlet and Gray put up a late fight, Detroit came out on top in that game, 9-8.

OSU coach Nick Myers said he realizes his team will be looking to harness its hunger for payback and use it for extra motivation against the Titans.

“I’d be lying to you if I told you the kids weren’t excited to get the opportunity to play Detroit,” Myers said. “That’s the beauty of sports, when you get (that) opportunity.”

Senior midfielder and co-captain Kacy Kapinos shared his coach’s sentiments, knowing this game will be a battle.

“Last year, that game didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” Kapinos said. “We know that any team can beat any team, any week, so we play every game like it’s a championship.”

OSU will face a Detroit team that has certainly improved over the last few years, thanks in large part to the efforts of coach Chris Kolon. In his first year with the team in 2015, Kolon led the Titans to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship semifinals and the program’s first-ever winning record of 8-6.

Detroit returns four starters, including sophomore attacker and 2015 MAAC Rookie of the Year Mark Anstead and two-time All-MAAC junior goalie Jason Weber. Anstead was second on the team in points in 2015 with 38, and Weber led the country for the second straight year with 14.43 saves per game.

The Buckeyes are hoping to start the regular-season home schedule off right with a win. Redshirt junior midfielder and co-captain Tyler Pfister said he knows how important this game is.

“Playing in front of a home crowd is obviously huge for us,” Pfister said. “We not only want to make our fans proud, but prove to ourselves what we know we can do.”

Myers acknowledged the importance of the first home game, but he said he doesn’t want the team to get too ahead of itself.

“The fact that we’re at home, in front of a home crowd, is something that adds to it,” Myers said. “I think at the end of the day, you have to focus on the task at hand.”

Momentum after win at Furman

The Buckeyes will look to capture the same magic they were able to harness in their 8-7 win at Furman.

Junior midfielder John Kelly scored with four seconds left in the game to give OSU the win in the regular-season opener. Kelly caught the pass from junior attacker Austin Shanks and threw it in the back of the net while falling to the ground to complete the game-winner.

“We know what (Kelly) can do, so it wasn’t a surprise necessarily,” Pfister said. “We had drawn it up in the huddle and knew what was going to happen — we just didn’t know how it was going to happen.”

Though OSU did get the win, Myers said he realizes his team could have played better and has focused in practice this week on getting the team to play more up-tempo.

“One of the themes this week for us has been playing more between the lines and creating more transition goals,” Myers said. “I’m really happy with the way the men have responded to it, and I feel like we’ve made some improvements.”

An up-tempo attack, coupled with the Buckeyes balanced offensive attack, could prove to be the right formula to exact their revenge against Detroit in their upcoming game.

Big Ten Players of the Week

Junior Jake Withers and sophomore Brendan Barger were recognized as Big Ten Players of the Week after the Buckeyes’ win at Furman.

Withers was honored as the Big Ten Specialist of the Week after winning 14 of his 19 faceoffs, including all nine in the second and third quarters of the game. He also picked up a team-high nine ground balls in the win. This is Withers’ first time receiving the award.

Barger was awarded the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after causing three turnovers in the game at Furman. He played a major role in the Buckeye defense that only allowed seven goals on 19 attempted shots. This is also Barger’s first time receiving the honor.

What’s next

After Detroit, OSU is scheduled to travel to Amherst on Feb. 20 to go up against Massachusetts. The game is set to begin at noon.

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