The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team has its sights set on a Big Ten title for the first time ever.
Fighting to fulfill that aspiration, the team is now four games into its non-conference schedule before the inaugural Big Ten season.
The Buckeyes (3-1) have tallied three straight wins, but earned individual recognition for outstanding performances by senior midfielder Jesse King, senior defenseman Evan Mulchrone and freshman midfielder Trevor Hodgins. The trio won the Big Ten Offensive, Defensive and Freshman Players of the Week, respectively.
Currently the third-highest scorer in the Big Ten, King brought his season goal tally to 12 by scoring a total of 10 in his last two games. He credited his success to remaining flexible as a player and focusing on the overall needs of his team.
“Obviously the best shot you can get is the one right in front of the net,” King said. “But a big thing for us is not settling on offense, taking those outside shots … trying to make those positions longer, which ultimately helps our defense out, too.”
And with that help from his offense, Mulchrone led the Buckeyes’ defense against Dartmouth, allowing only two goals in the final three quarters of play and now individually leading the Big Ten in forced turnovers with 1.75 per game.
His father played football at Illinois and his brother swam at Wisconsin, making Mulchrone no stranger to the Big Ten and his conference award that much sweeter.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Mulchrone said. “I just come out with a smile on my face and try to make this team as good as it can be … being able to represent the ‘Block O’ and have that Big Ten logo on your jersey is really exciting.”
And while Mulchrone maintained his modesty, coach Nick Myers did not hesitate to sing his praises for the senior defenseman.
“Both on and off the field, Evan is a leader,” Myers said. “He’s an incredible competitor. He’s a young man that’s grown in a tremendous way since he first arrived here.”
Mulchrone admitted he grew into his role as a Buckeye over time, even referencing his freshman playing time as “zero.” But after earning the “most improved” award between his freshman and sophomore seasons, the now-senior captain credited the leadership above him.
“Freshman year was definitely a struggle getting used to college lacrosse,” he said. “But there were a lot of really talented guys to show me the ropes and how it was done.”
Now on the other side, Mulchrone and the rest of the seniors each mentor a freshman and enjoy seeing a young player like Hodgins earn not only his first goal as a Buckeye, but also conference recognition, Mulchrone said.
“It’s awesome to see the young guys get in,” he said. “They’re pushing us every day.”
OSU premiered its big/little brother tradition this season, coinciding with its introduction into the Big Ten. Although its first conference matchup remains weeks away, Myers said the team scheduled this weekend’s upcoming games against Bellarmine and Marquette with a potential conference tournament in mind.
“It’s an opportunity to play in a situation where it’s two games in three days,” Myers said. “Our ultimate goal is to do our job down the stretch of our conference games … This mirrors that a little bit, as a road game, it’s a great challenge.”
The Buckeyes aim to bring home their first road win of the season against Bellarmine on Friday. The game is set for 6 p.m. in Louisville, Ky.