In a clash of the only remaining unbeaten teams left in ECAC play, the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team (5-6, 2-0) is scheduled to host the Air Force Falcons (8-3, 3-0) inside Ohio Stadium Saturday with first place on the line.
Getting hot at the right time, the Buckeyes have won four of their last five after starting the season 1-5, including a convincing win over archrival Michigan in front of more than 17,000 fans last Saturday inside Ohio Stadium.
However, OSU coach Nick Myers said the team has put the Michigan game behind them and they are now focused on taking an Air Force squad that is currently one of the hottest teams in the country.
“For our men, it’s the next play, next game mentality,” Myers said. “We understand what’s on the line this weekend. You got an opportunity at a share of the conference championship, Air Force is looking at an opportunity to win it outright. Right now, it’s as close to a playoff mentality as you can get against a team that is red hot, very well coached, and has a lot of seniors.”
Going into its last game against No. 17 Fairfield, Air Force had yet to record a victory over a team ranked in the top 20, but that didn’t stop them from handling the Stags for a 16-8 win.
Now winners of six straight, Air Force sits atop the ECAC with the chance to win the regular season title for the first time under coach Eric Seremet.
The Falcons are led by 14 seniors, who have the offense rolling right now after having scored 13 or more goals in five of their last six games.
OSU senior goalie Scott Spencer said the team is just focused on themselves and playing the fundamentals well this weekend.
“It’s not about any one guy. We just really want to hone in on supporting each other and focusing on the little things,” Spencer said. “These last two weeks, we’ve really been focused on fundamentals and the basics and not trying to get too fancy, but really knowing who we are and what we do best.”
Spencer, who has started four games for the Buckeyes since fellow senior goalie Greg Dutton went down with an injury, is 3-1 on the season and is the reigning ECAC Defensive Player of the Week after holding Michigan to only six goals while making nine saves in the Showdown in the Shoe.
Myers said Spencer, along with the rest of the Buckeye defense, will have to build on their momentum and confidence to slow down a potent Falcons offense led by senior attackman Mike Crampton (33 goals, 16 assists).
“He’s been really steady. Scotty is a guy that brings a great deal of consistency to the lineup. He’s got a great work ethic,” Myers said. “Every day, Scotty is going to come to practice ready to go and I’m really happy to see him having success. I think his success is a product certainly of the defense as well. He’s doing his job in there and defensively, we are slowly starting to get more confidence as the year goes on together.”
Offensively, junior midfielder Jesse King will hope to continue his stellar play, as he has 21 points in his last three games and 45 on the season. Junior attackman Reegan Comeault will also look to build on his scoring streak as the only Buckeye to tally a point in every game this season.
Game time is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. and is slated to be Senior Day for 10 Buckeyes, including senior midfielder Jake Sharick, who won’t be able to play because of an ACL tear that has kept him sidelined all year. Despite the injury, Sharick said the game will be just as special as if he was playing.
“We are all working for the same thing,” Sharick said. “Everyone’s trying to get one job done, so I feel just as part of the team as if I was on the field. We’re all gonna take that mindset in for this day, so it’ll be a fun day.”