The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team has its biggest challenge of the early season ahead of it, as the Buckeyes travel to Hempstead, New York, to battle No. 13 Hofstra at noon on Saturday.
The Scarlet and Gray are coming off two wins in the Midwest Lacrosse Classic against Marquette and Bellarmine, extending their winning streak to three games. The Pride suffered their first loss of the season last week at the hands of Georgetown after starting the season with three wins.
OSU defeated Hofstra 9-8 last season, but OSU senior midfielder and co-captain Kacy Kapinos said both teams are too different from last year to make a comparison.
“It will be interesting to see what we bring to the table,” Kapinos said. “Playing at Hofstra is very exciting — a lot of history in that program and that stadium. It will be a fun trip, and we look forward to it.”
OSU coach Nick Myers said his team will have test against the Pride, only compounded by the fact that the game is on the road.
“They’re a very good team, really stingy defense. They have a good coach (and) a great coaching staff,” Myers said. “They’ve already gotten some big wins under their belt. They’re coming off their first loss (and) are at home, so we expect their very best.”
Hofstra’s defense currently ranks ninth in the nation in scoring defense, only allowing 7.5 goals per game. The Pride’s sophomore goalie Jack Concannon also ranks fifth in the nation with a save percentage of 62.8 percent.
Kapinos said the Buckeyes’ balanced attack on offense will give them an advantage that other teams don’t have.
“It’s good that we’re scoring from seven, eight-plus guys. We don’t have one guy that’s just breaking down a play,” Kapinos said. “It’s great to have a lot of point production from multiple guys. It’s kind of hard for other teams to prepare for us.”
OSU will look to score on every opportunity it is given on Saturday, including extra-man opportunities. After a rough start to the year, the man-up unit has scored in three straight games. Myers credited assistant coach Brad Ross on his work with this unit.
“Coach Ross has done a really nice job down there with them in terms of just keeping it simple,” Myers said. “I think that unit is starting to build some chemistry.”
Tom Carey wins conference award
Redshirt junior goalie Tom Carey was named Big Ten Specialist of the Week on Tuesday for his efforts in the Buckeyes’ pair of wins against Marquette and Bellarmine over the weekend.
Carey had a career-high 16 saves in the 12-8 win over Marquette on Friday, and followed that performance by anchoring the defense in a 9-5 win over Bellarmine two days later.
“Tommy gives us a lot of communication and kind of quarterbacks the defense,” Kapinos said.
Carey will have his hands full on Saturday. The Pride average 11.5 goals per game, which is tied for 19th in the country, to their opponents’ 7.5 and have two experienced attackers in junior Josh Byrne and senior Sam Llinares. Those two stand as constant threats on offense.
Byrne is tied for fifth in the nation with 3.5 goals per game and leads the team in both goals with 14 and assists with six.
Llinares, the 2015 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, led the team last year with 33 goals and 24 assists. He has 11 goals and two assists so far this season.
Colin Chell update
OSU sophomore attacker Colin Chell left the field under assistance in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win over Bellarmine. After a few minutes of examination by the training staff on the bench, he was carted off of the field.
Myers said Chell is questionable to play on Saturday, and that the team has to be prepared to play without him.
“He’s a guy that we’re looking at day to day,” he said. “We’re excited about what the training staff has shared with us, so we’ll just continue to move forward … and let the medical staff do what they do.”
The sophomore attacker is tied for second on the team with eight goals and third in total points with 11.
The Scarlet and Gray are scheduled to return to Ohio Stadium on Tuesday to face off against No. 6 Towson. The game against the Tigers is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.