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Ohio State men’s lacrosse heads south to play Denver

Lindsey Barrett / Lantern photographer

So far, so good. That’s how the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team sees its season through two games.

The Buckeyes sit undefeated with wins against Detroit and Mercer and are now preparing for their third test of the season against Denver.

“It’s certainly the way you want to start the year, with two wins,” said men’s lacrosse coach Nick Myers. “What we’ve looked at is try to really make it about us, all preseason and even the start of this season.”

But Myers said there is always room for improvement.

“I thought we cut down on turnovers from game one to game two, but (we) still need to limit those,” he said. “We’re still giving up 15, 16 turnovers. We want to be in that 10 to 12 range a game.”

And with a showdown against Eastern College Athletic Conference favorite Denver looming this Sunday, the Buckeyes understand it could the key to a victory against the No. 5 team in the nation.

At first glance the game, which will be played at 2 p.m. in Jacksonville, Fla. as part of Moe’s Southwest Grill Lacrosse Classic, looks to feature OSU’s senior-laden defense against arguably the best offensive units in the nation.

But even the best offense can’t score if it doesn’t have the ball.

And Myers said he doesn’t want to hand out any extra chances for Denver to work their offense which features senior attackman Mark Matthews, the 2011 ECAC Offensive Player of the Year.

“They’re an opportunistic group,” he said. “They’ll take advantage of turnovers if you’re sloppy there.”

Junior midfielder Dominique Alexander agreed with Myers and said the focus going into Sunday is making sure they don’t turn the ball over, to get quality shots on Denver’s defense and to keep the ball out of their offense’s hands.

“Coach has really been stressing not turning the ball over,” Alexander said. “We looked at some teams that have beaten Denver and those teams had low turnover numbers just because their offense is so good so you can’t give those guys second chance opportunities and stuff like that or they’re going to really bury you.”

Alexander said that while playing Denver “will be a test,” he thinks it will be a moment for OSU to set the tone for the rest of the conference this season.

“Everybody in the country is going to be watching the game and especially the teams in our conference are going to be watching the game,” he said. “I think we kind of put ourselves out there and show teams that, ‘Hey we’re ready to play this year.'”

Senior defenseman Joe Bonanni said besides not turning the ball over and cleaning up some minor things, the Buckeyes match up well against Denver.

“They got a lot of scorers, but we think we match up with them very well, we got a good game plan, and we’re confident in both our offense and defense that we can get the job done,” he said.

Myers said playing such a big game so early helps give the Buckeyes a good sense of where they’re at this season.

“It’s obviously a team that is at the top of our league to start the preseason, league champs from a year ago, so I think you come out of this knowing where you are to need to compete for a conference championship,” Myers said. “I think we understand that it’s a team that we have a chance to see again potentially at the end of the year.”

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