Ohio State men’s lacrosse did something it hadn’t done in four years this past Saturday: lost one of its first three games.
Now the No. 19 Buckeyes (2-1) seek to return to the win column on the road against Bucknell (3-0) Saturday following a 9-7 loss to UMass.
“You want to move forward and get back to the basics and what we know works. That’s been a huge emphasis this week,” Ohio State senior attackman Tre Leclaire said.
Bucknell has started the season hot, winning its first three games and cracking the bottom of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Coaches Poll this week at No. 20. The Buckeyes are No. 17 in the coaches poll, despite lower standing for both teams in the Inside Lacrosse poll.
Both teams enter the game with high-powered offenses, as each has scored 41 goals for a tie at the No. 6 spot in the NCAA with 13.67 goals per game.
“We’re certainly aware of how capable they are offensively, and it will be a great challenge for us defensively,” Ohio State head coach Nick Myers said.
Senior attackman Will Yorke, the Bisons’ leading scorer, has scored nine goals in addition to one assist this year. In the game against Ohio State this past season, he scored five times despite a three-goal loss.
Sophomore attackman Alston Tarry has been Bucknell’s main facilitator, contributing eight assists to go along with five goals. Junior attackman Tommy Sopko has eight goals and four assists, including four scores against Sacred Heart in the Bisons’ most recent game.
Junior goalie Ben Clark has posted a career high in saves in back-to-back games with 17 in both. Clark has a 9.44 goals against average.
“You have to get to him early, try and make sure that he doesn’t get hot,” Myers said. “For us, coming off a week where we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, that certainly is a key for the game.”
The Bison defense is led by senior midfielder Hunter Newman and sophomore defenseman Travis Talarico, who have each caused seven turnovers on the year.
Bucknell sophomore midfielder Nick Crovatto has won 60 percent of faceoffs this season, putting him at No. 22 nationally.
Ohio State has been without junior midfielder and faceoff specialist Justin Inacio, who is out with a lower body injury. Ohio State will look to continue playing strong defense, as it has not allowed more than nine goals in a game.
Redshirt junior goalie Josh Kirson has only allowed 18 goals on the season for a 6.99 goals against average. In the past two games, Kirson has made 31 saves.
“Goalie play and faceoffs will certainly be a big part of the game,” Myers said.
Three freshmen have played big roles so far for the Buckeyes. Defenseman Jacob Snyder started the first three games, causing two turnovers and collecting three ground balls. Twin brothers Grant and Connor Mitchell have contributed in the midfield. Grant Mitchell has scored four goals and added three assists, while Connor Mitchell has four goals and one assist.
One of the Buckeyes’ biggest strengths this season has been pressuring opposing teams when they have possession in their defensive zone. Ohio State’s ride has allowed just a 75.4 clearing percentage to its opponents.
“We’ve been riding. I think a lot of that is just great effort. It’s been a big part of what we feel like is our identity as a team,” Myers said.
Ohio State takes on Bucknell at noon Saturday in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.