Lindsey Barrett / Lantern photographer
It’s interesting how quickly some things change.
In a matter of a week, the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team went from being unranked in preseason polls to No. 11 in the nation, according to the most recent United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll.
What didn’t change, however, was that the Buckeyes remained undefeated.
Sitting 3-0, and already 1-0 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, OSU made national waves with a 10-9 upset of then-No. 5-ranked Denver.
In some ways the win was a breakthrough for the Buckeyes, said senior attackman and co-captain Mike Smail.
“We had a tough battle against Denver both times last year and it was great to get a win against them to start the year out,” he said. “Hopefully that will carry on throughout the season.”
Redshirt senior defenseman and co-captain Matt Kawamoto said giving Denver its first ECAC of the year was an “awesome feeling.”
“They’re one of our big rivals, it’s great to get out there and have a competitive game against them,” he said. “Denver’s a great team, we had a great game plan going into the weekend and we executed it pretty well.”
While coach Nick Myers was unavailable to comment, assistant coach Andrew Baxter said it was a battle and a great moment for the program.
“We’re very excited about the win. It was a very hard fought game against a great coached, great skilled Denver team, and it really was a team effort for 60 minutes,” Baxter said.
Any euphoria following that win has been short lived, though, with another test against No. 10 UMass this Saturday.
It’s the first of a six-game stretch at home for OSU, which includes back-to-back visits from No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 1-ranked defending national champions Virginia.
While Baxter called the Buckeyes’ schedule “one of the toughest in program history,” it’s a high-risk, high-reward situation.
While it’s nice to have one big win under their belt, Baxter said, the goal is to build a string of impressive wins rather than just one.
“We got to put it together, we got to build off of the momentum we have coming off the big win and play our best 60 minutes against tough opponents we have coming up,” he said. “We can’t settle for anything at this point, we got to keep working every day.”
Smail said if OSU can get a few big wins under their belt early, it would only make them stronger down the line, and said their early success is result of their team’s unity.
“It just says (we’re) a collective group that sticks together, and it shows that we believe in each other, simply,” he said.
Kawamoto agreed and said the Buckeyes have believed they were an elite team from day one, but said he understands each game is earned.
“You got to go every week and prove it, you got competition every week regardless of who it is,” he said. “Every team in the country can beat you on any given day.”
Baxter said in order for OSU to beat UMass, they need to continue to improve on not turning the ball over.
“We want to limit our turnovers as best we can on the offensive end, we certainly know how to, it’s just a matter of executing,” he said.
Besides limiting silly mistakes, Kawamoto, who was the ECAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, said playing disciplined lacrosse and playing together as a defensive unit is going also be key.
“It’s going to be a battle throughout,” he said. “They’re a tough team, they’re going to come out, come after you all game.”
The game is scheduled to be played in Ohio Stadium at 1 p.m., but could move indoors to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center if poor weather ensues.