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With the Jesse King era over, fresh faces on Ohio State men’s lacrosse step up

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OSU junior midfielder John Kelly (10) during a scrimmage against The Hill Academy on Jan. 30. Credit: Kylie Bryant | | For The Lantern

OSU junior midfielder John Kelly (10) during a scrimmage against The Hill Academy on Jan. 30. Credit: Kylie Bryant | | For The Lantern

The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team might have scored 12 goals in its scrimmage against The Hill Academy on Saturday, but it will still have to adjust to some fresh faces this year after losing one of the country’s top scorers in 2015, Jesse King.

One of the biggest question marks facing the No. 12 Buckeyes before the season is who would step up on offense to replace the output provided by King. A three-time All-American at OSU and No. 3 overall pick in the National Lacrosse League’s 2015 draft, he was the focal point of the Buckeyes’ attack last year. King led the team with 42 goals and 35 assists.

The Scarlet and Gray will certainly rely on returning players from last year’s team and transfers from other schools to step up on both sides of the ball to try to pick up the slack. The team is also looking at several first-year players to have a significant impact.

“I think guys are meshing really well,” redshirt junior midfielder Tyler Pfister said after the exhibition against The Hill. “It’s good to have a few scrimmages like this where they can get the ya-ya’s out and start to get the feel for what college lacrosse is all about.”

Without King, OSU coach Nick Myers said the Buckeyes will be looking to spread the ball more and involve many different players on the offensive side of the ball.

“Everybody has talked about the ‘King-less’ Buckeyes,” Myers said. “I think that it’s a very unselfish group out on the field, so I’m excited that if we can share (the ball), then any given day could be somebody’s turn.”

The team’s offensive strategy certainly worked on Saturday. In their scrimmage, the Scarlet and Gray scored 12 goals. Furthermore, 10 different players managed to score at least one goal, with sophomore midfielder Austin Seiple and junior attacker Eric Fannell scoring multiple times.

The dozen goals scored by OSU were the product of a number of factors: The Buckeyes were able to gain a significant advantage in time of possession and the offense patiently waited for an opening to shoot, making it a point to not force anything.

The team had very few turnovers, both forced and unforced. This was because of clean, crisp passing between all of the players on the field. The defense was able to force turnovers as well, leading to a good number of fastbreak opportunities for the Buckeyes.

Perhaps most importantly, however, was the Buckeyes’ ability to win faceoffs.

“That was a point of emphasis coming out of (the first scrimmage against) Navy,” Myers said. “Winning ground balls, and then that translating into extra offensive possessions, was something we did early. It helps our defense and feeds the whole team.”

The Buckeyes had a day off on Sunday to rest, but the team will continue with practice this week as it prepares for its first match against Furman this Saturday.

“With two scrimmages this week, there are some tired legs, so we want to make sure that we’re fresh going down (to Furman),” Myers said.

The team is looking to start the season off right after losing its first game on the road to Detroit University last season. OSU will be in a similar situation, as the team is set to make the long trip to Greenville, South Carolina, to take on the Paladins.

“We have a lot of respect for Furman,” Pfister said. “They’re a good team that is really well-coached. Coming off a season like last year, having a good early start for us is huge.”

OSU and Furman are set face off at noon on Saturday to kick off the regular season. The Buckeyes’ home opener on Feb. 13 against Detroit is also set for noon.

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