The dawn of a new season is upon the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team.
The Buckeyes are gearing up to make the roughly eight-hour bus trip down to Greenville, South Carolina, in order to face the Paladins of Furman University on Saturday. This will be the team’s first regular-season game after a pair of scrimmages against Navy and The Hill Academy last week.
The Paladins are coming off a year of improvement in 2015. The team went 1-12 in the men’s lacrosse program’s inaugural season in 2014. After starting 1-5, Furman finished with a 4-9 record. Much of the program’s improvement has to do with the job done by coach Richie Meade.
Both OSU coach Nick Myers and redshirt junior midfielder Tyler Pfister made it a point of emphasis that a strength of the Paladins is how well-coached they are.
However, without much familiarity with this year’s Furman squad, the Buckeyes will have to make do with what they have.
“We will highlight a few things we are aware of,” Myers said. “There’s not a whole lot of information or film on them.”
Since it is so early, the Buckeyes have not changed their practices for game-specific strategies. The team believes it still has to come together as a group and work on what propelled it to a great season last year.
“We’re just sticking to fundamentals and things we need to get better at,” senior midfielder Kacy Kapinos said.
In light of the absence of film on Furman’s play style, OSU has not had the chance to develop a gameplan to counter what the Paladins will bring. This means sticking to what the team knows best.
”We’re going to play tough on-ball defense,” Kapinos said. “On offense, we’re going to play out of our sets and make the smart play.”
One factor looming over the Scarlet and Gray is the pair of back-to-back midseason games against No. 2 Denver and No. 1 Notre Dame. These are games that many are looking at as the toughest games on OSU’s regular-season schedule. However, the team wants to focus solely on the upcoming game.
“Taking it one game at a time for us and being able to not look past to what people are maybe calling bigger games later on in the season is huge,” Pfister said.
Myers expressed his confidence in the team and its mindset early in the season.
“I think the team is pretty self-aware and knows what championship lacrosse looks like,” Myers said. “The motivator every day is to try to get better than you were the day before.”
Starting off right
The Scarlet and Gray look to start the season on a different note than last year.
In OSU’s first regular-season matchup of 2015, the Buckeyes lost to Detroit. A late fourth-quarter push was not enough, as OSU fell 9-8. Although it turned things around quickly by winning seven of its next eight games, a similar start is not in the team’s 2016 plans.
A win in the regular-season opener could prove huge in order for the Buckeyes to gain momentum heading into the meat of the schedule. The team will need to be clicking on all cylinders once it hits the middle portion of the schedule and faces top-ranked teams, and later Big Ten foes.
The upperclassmen on the team know how important a win is on Saturday, especially considering the lofty expectations the Buckeyes have placed on themselves.
“Wanting to start the right way, and knowing what we can do, is going to be huge for us heading into that first game,” Pfister said.
A win on Saturday could give confidence to some of the fresh faces and reaffirm what this Buckeye team already believes: that they belong in consideration as a top team in the country.
After Furman, the Buckeyes are scheduled to square off against Detroit University in the home opener on Feb. 13 in a rematch of last year’s first game. The game is scheduled to begin at noon.