Ohio State men’s lacrosse takes the field at Ohio Stadium for its home opener Saturday against the University of Massachusetts.
The No. 10 Buckeyes (2-0) look to remain undefeated in nonconference competition against a UMass (0-1) team coming off a blowout loss to then-No. 16 Army.
Despite the Minutemen dropping their season opener 17-4, Ohio State head coach Nick Myers said he’s expecting a heated battle.
“They’re tough. You play UMass early in the year, you find out about who you are,” Myers said on the team’s weekly podcast.
Redshirt junior goalie Josh Kirson was named Big Ten Specialist of the Week for the second time in his career after going 2-0 and posting 25 saves with a 5.71 goals-against average in wins against Detroit Mercy and Boston University.
The Buckeye offense has scored 34 goals in the first two games, led by senior attackman Tre Leclaire’s eight scores. Sophomore attackman Jack Myers and junior attackman Jackson Reid have each added six goals in the early season.
In Amherst, Massachusetts, a season ago, Ohio State beat the Minutemen 11-7 after outscoring them 5-1 in the second half.
UMass finished 10-5 a season ago and won its conference regular season championship, but ultimately missed out on the NCAA Tournament after falling in its conference tournament.
“UMass is a very good, very tough team, and it will take a complete effort on both ends of the field to get a win,” senior defenseman Joey Salisbury said.
UMass head coach Greg Cannella enters his 26th season with the Minutemen, making him the second-longest tenured coach in Division I lacrosse.
“I have a ton of respect for him, his staff and that program,” Myers said.
Myers said the Minutemen will use their season-opening loss as fuel to get back on track against the Buckeyes.
“We’ve played them coming off a loss to Army. We know what way they are going to respond,” Myers said.
The Minutemen are led by a high-powered offense that returns junior attackman Chris Connolly, who had 27 goals and 36 assists this past season. Connolly added a goal in the season opener.
Sophomore attackman Gabriel Procyk, the team’s leading goal scorer from the 2019 season, also returns for UMass after posting 36 goals and four assists as a freshman.
UMass is looking to replace a first-team All-American goalie in Sean Sconone. The Minutemen used two goalies in their opener with freshman Matt Knote getting the start and senior Cameron Carpenter also seeing action.
The midfield is led by redshirt senior Billy Philpott, the only player who scored multiple points for the Minutemen against Army. Two 20-goal scorers from this past year join him in senior Jeff Trainor, who scored a goal against Army, and junior Kevin Tobin, who added an assist.
On defense, the Minutemen lost Isaac Paparo to graduation, but they return junior defenseman Sam Eisenstadt, who caused two turnovers against Army.
Ohio State will begin play against UMass 1 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium.