The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team will face its biggest test of the season to this point when it travels to take on No. 11 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, on Saturday.
Despite being the only undefeated team left in Division I, the Buckeyes (6-0) have yet to face a ranked opponent this season, and the Fighting Irish (4-2) will be the first.
“To beat a team like Notre Dame, you’re going to have to be pretty buttoned up in almost every area, so that’s where our focus has been,” Ohio State head coach Nick Myers said.
The No. 5 Buckeyes come into the game with some rest after their game scheduled against Denver last Saturday was canceled due to weather conditions.
Myers said he was disappointed in not being able to play, but said the team used its break to come together as a team.
But not playing a game since March 9 could prove to be costly for the Buckeyes.
“Having two weeks off presents some positives but also so some challenges,” Myers said. “There’s a rhythm that you lose.”
Notre Dame got back to its winning ways against Michigan on Tuesday, winning the contest 12-9 off the heels of senior Brendan Gleason’s two goals and an assist.
The Fighting Irish also have two ranked wins against No. 4 Maryland and No. 13 Denver.
The matchup between the two teams look very similar on paper. Ohio State and Notre Dame have a nearly identical scoring defense, with the Buckeye ranked 12th and Notre Dame ranked 13th.
To Myers, the X play will be crucial to the overall success of Ohio State.
Ohio State’s sophomore midfielder Justin Inacio has been dominant this season in the faceoff circle with a 63.6 win percentage. Inacio has also been massive on the ground game, ranking No. 5 in ground balls, recording 10.17 per game.
Ohio State junior midfielder Christian Feliziani has helped a lot with the faceoff unit, not only with his on-field performance, but through his leadership.
“Because of an injury, I couldn’t do a lot in the fall physically, so I tried to use my voice and what I could from the sidelines,” Feliziani said. “I would like to say I was a coach kind of.”
Notre Dame junior faceoff specialist Charles Leonard picked up a career-high 16 ground balls last week against Michigan, and was also dominant in the faceoff play, winning an impressive 20-of-24 faceoffs.
Saturday will be the 44th matchup between the teams, with Notre Dame leading the series 34-9.
No. 5 Ohio State will take on No. 11 Notre Dame on the road at 1 p.m Saturday.