The No. 5 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team will leave behind Columbus’ gloomy weather in favor of a sunny Florida sky when it travels to take on unranked Jacksonville Sunday.
The Buckeyes (3-0) said they approached this week’s practice in preparation for Jacksonville (2-2) with open minds and positive attitudes. Last year, Ohio State managed a substantial 16-8 win against the Dolphins. But this year the team has multiple aspects to improve, especially after its hard-fought battle against Hofstra on Saturday.
“Hofstra was a win where we felt like we kind of grinded one out,” head coach Nick Myers said. “There was a lot of areas of the game where we felt like we really faltered in, and we certainly credit Hofstra for a great deal of that but also ourselves.”
Ohio State players echoed Myers’ observations as well. Senior defenseman Erik Evans, one of the key barriers against Hofstra’s offense on Saturday, said that playing cohesively was an important takeaway for the team.
“We realize that when we’re playing as a unit, not many teams are scoring on us that much,” he said.
While the Buckeyes spent the week concentrating on improvement, Jacksonville won 15-8 against Detroit Mercy on Tuesday. Myers said the team looks forward to playing notable talent, such as senior attacking midfielder Hunter Forbes and junior midfielder Eric Applegate. Forbes won 23-of-25 faceoffs just two days ago against the Titans, affording the Dolphins considerable advantages through the extra possessions.
Myers also pointed out senior midfielder and captain McLean Chicquen, senior attack Shawn Ewert, and junior attack Will Hendrick as potential impact players for the Dolphins.
“I’d say those are their top guys from what we’ve seen and I think they’re going to create some challenges for us,” he said.
Evans said Jacksonville’s early and rapid offensive play will be something for the team to watch out for, and that playing hard defensively for the first seconds of each possession would be especially crucial for success.
“They do a lot in the early offense, so one of the things we tried to clean up is just getting our offensive midfielders down there, defend that first 15 to 20 seconds that they are comfortable with playing and attacking, and get them off the field and get our [defensive] personnel back out there,” he said.
The Buckeyes will play the Dolphins at D.B. Milne Field at 1 p.m. Sunday.