Coming off a season in which the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team won the ECAC conference tournament championship and its first NCAA tournament game in five years, plenty of excitement surrounds the program regarding just how far the Buckeyes can go in 2014.
“We definitely have great potential,” senior goalie and captain Greg Dutton said. “We lost some key guys last year, but we’ve got some new guys in the mix, guys who are ready to step up. We are really excited for this season.”
However, when OSU takes the field this spring, it will do so without the program’s all-time leading goal scorer in attackman Logan Schuss, who graduated last spring. The Minnesota Swarm selected Schuss with first overall pick in the 2013 National Lacrosse League Entry Draft in September.
OSU coach Nick Myers, who is entering his sixth season with the team, said he believes it is going to take a team effort to replace Schuss.
“Offensively, we pride ourselves on sharing the ball,” Myers said. “We are going to need some guys to step into some different roles, but I don’t think it’s going to be one person that replaces Logan.”
One returning player is junior midfielder Jesse King, who was second on the team in points last season after tallying 32 goals and 23 assists. King was also one of 51 players named to Team Canada’s training squad in October.
“It’s a huge confidence builder for him to get a chance to play with some of the best in the world,” Myers said about King’s experience. “He knows he is going to have a lot more attention from opponents and defenses, but I think he is up for that challenge.”
Offensively, OSU returns four players who scored more than 20 points — King, sophomore attackman Carter Brown, junior midfielder Turner Evans and junior midfielder David Planning — to a team that went 13-4 last season, including 7-2 in conference play.
OSU is ranked No. 7 in the “Inside Lacrosse” preseason poll, the first time the Buckeyes have been in the preseason top 10. The Buckeyes are also set to feature two Preseason First Team All-Americans for the first time in program history in King and senior defenseman Joe Meurer, who was selected with the 10th overall pick by the Florida Launch in the 2014 MLL Collegiate Draft Friday.
Still, despite the talent OSU returns to the squad, Meurer said his team is not the best they can be quite yet.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Meurer said. “As January progresses, we will definitely continue to build the blocks that we need to be the team that we want to be.”
The Buckeyes are set to open the season Feb. 9 when they travel to Baltimore to take on No. 14 Johns Hopkins.