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Men’s lacrosse: First road trip serves as true test for undefeated Buckeyes

Ohio State senior attackman Austin Shanks surveys the defense against Furman at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Feb. 5. OSU won 12-6. Credit: Gene Ross | Senior Lantern reporter

The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team (4-0) will be traveling to Milwaukee for the third annual Midwest Classic this weekend. This is the first time the Buckeyes will be on the road and play two games in a weekend this season.

On Friday evening, No. 17 OSU is set to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles (1-1) and battle against Bellarmine (1-2) on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Last week, the Buckeyes played strong second and third quarters, but their performance fell flat in the fourth quarter, being outscored 5-3. OSU coach Nick Myers said his team is still working on its complete game and this weekend will be a growing opportunity.

“It’s a great experience going on the road for the first time and being bunkered up in a hotel and a long bus trip,” Myers said. “There are a lot of challenges that can be presented to you.”

The Buckeyes defeated the Golden Eagles 12-8 last March despite the Eagles leading returning scorer, senior attackman Ryan McNamara, tallying four goals in the match.

Myers said McNamara is one of the best in the country at his position, and is one reason why OSU’s defense will have to be on high alert on Friday.

“They have guys who obviously have the experience and success being in the NCAA tournament last year,” he said. “I think this coaching staff did a remarkable job preparing their team.”

So far this season, the Buckeyes’ offense has received contributions from just about everyone on that side of the field. Sixteen players have scored for OSU, including five averaging at least one goal per game.

Myers said the team’s depth has been one of its strongest assets.

“We put our third line of midfielders out there against Jacksonville … they know they’re not just going to go in a game that’s out of hand or that’s down to the wire,” he said. “I think everyone appreciates the fact that when your number is called you have to be ready to go.”

The Buckeyes will finish their weekend playing the Bellarmine Knights on Sunday. OSU defeated the Knights last season, 9-5.

OSU sophomore defender Matt Borges said that it’s important that the Buckeyes prepare themselves mentally to execute well in the rematch.

“I think going into a double header like this, you just gotta get your mind right going into that second game. That second game you know you’re going to be a little fatigue and tired,” Borges said.  “Going into the week, you have to be ready to work hard. It’s going to be about who wants it more.”

While being on the road comes with distractions, OSU junior midfielder Bo Lori said coach Myers has been putting an emphasis on focusing on the game and not the things going on around them.

“There’s a lot of events that come with playing a road game,” Lori said. “I think just being mentally focused on the game and not letting those outside aspects of travel and hotel life and family not get to our head and deter our focus.”

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