A stinging loss to No. 19 Marquette followed by a marginal win against Detroit Mercy was not what the then-No. 6 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team had in mind going into the Midwest Lacrosse Classic last weekend.
But the now-No. 14 Buckeyes (5-1) have had a full week of practice to improve their play as they prepare to clash with Towson for their first game of the season at Ohio Stadium.
The Tigers have stumbled to a sluggish 2-3 record this season with an 0-2 away record. But the Buckeyes aren’t counting them out, especially considering Towson’s previous performances against them.
“This is a game that the last four years we’ve played them — twice last year and the two prior to that — you’re looking at two overtime games and two one-goal games,” Ohio State head coach Nick Myers said. “We anticipate it being a really healthy competition, seeing two teams collide and probably being something like that as it has been in the past.”
The Buckeyes are 3-1 in the past four years against Towson, with their lone loss coming in the 2016 season by way of a 10-9 overtime decision. Last year, Ohio State managed a 6-3 mid-season win versus the Tigers, and followed that up with a dramatic 11-10 win in the NCAA semifinals, before losing to Maryland in the championship game.
Towson brings Colonial Athletic Association player of the week Jon Mazza to the table. He is a 6-foot-4 junior attack who had a standout day for the Tigers in their 8-6 win against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Saturday. He recorded five goals and two assists.
Myers specifically mentioned Towson junior midfielder Alex Woodall, who has won 72-of-105 draws, as a notable opponent for Ohio State’s own faceoff specialists — freshman midfielder Justin Inacio and sophomore midfielder Christian Feliziani.
“They’re very disciplined. They typically don’t do anything to beat themselves, and they’re going to force you to beat them, which for us creates a really good challenge,” Myers said.
Myers said Ohio State’s first loss on the road against the Golden Eagles on Friday created a sense of urgency among team members, forcing them to analyze the facets of their game that needed attention before going up against Towson.
“I think it just starts with leadership, you know just taking that one-goal-at-a-time approach,” senior attack Colin Chell said. “I think it’s really settling the guys down, making sure we have good offensive possessions, making stops on defense, big ground balls at the [faceoff] and just taking it one possession and one goal at a time.”
Saturday’s game will be the team’s first this season playing in Ohio Stadium, a fact that leaves players both excited and humbled.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in there for three years – this’ll be my fourth year – and you know we’re just excited to get out there,” said Chell. “[We’re] pumped for these young guys to experience the Shoe – it’s a truly incredible experience.”
The Buckeyes’ faceoff is slated to begin at 4 p.m. Saturday in Ohio Stadium.