The time has come: the Buckeyes will officially kick off their season by welcoming Air Force to their new home, the Ohio State Lacrosse Stadium, Saturday.
Ohio State, which ranked No. 11 in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association rankings, will host seven opponents in its new venue this season as the Buckeyes make their way through a challenging schedule.
In his 15th year as head coach, Nick Myers said ticket sales have increased drastically, noting several sellouts, as fans are anxious to step foot into the stadium and experience what this team is all about.
“Sales have been red hot,” Myers said. “I think as fans get in and get a sense of where they’d like to sit and enjoy the game, that’ll be fun to see.”
The Buckeyes are set to take on multiple decorated programs at home, including No. 20 North Carolina, No. 4 Cornell, No. 10 Rutgers and No. 1 Maryland.
There is no doubt the new field will see action this season, but after the Buckeyes complete their three-game home stretch, they will battle No. 2 Virginia in Naples, Florida, on Feb. 25.
Myers said he liked the way the Buckeyes battled in the offseason, and they’ve earned the right to feel confident heading into regular season play, but there is a long way to go.
“If you’ve looked at our schedule, you can see there’s a bumpy road ahead,” Myers said. “Every week.”
On the road, Ohio State will go up against other ranked opponents, including No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 18 Denver. The regular season will close out on April 21 against rival Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Though for right now, the Buckeyes plan to take their season one week at a time — and this begins with the Falcons.
“Air Force is going to present an incredible challenge for us,” Myers said. “We’re looking forward, we’re excited, but we’re also humbled by the challenge that lies in the future.”
The last meeting between the Falcons and Buckeyes ended in a 14-7 Air Force victory on May 1, 2014. However, every other matchup since 2000 resulted in a Buckeye victory.
Ohio State looks to add to that record, which begins with good leadership.
Attacker Jack Myers has taken on that role with the help of the other 21 seniors and graduates that came back for a final year.
“Guys get out there and play, but not just get out there and play, [they] really keep the standard on what we’re trying to build towards. They’re playing tough, they’re playing hard,” Jack Myers said. “There’s a lot of leadership on this team, and you’re seeing it from a variety of guys, so it’s very exciting.”
Jack Myers earned a multitude of preseason awards over the last month. He was named a preseason second team All-American by USA Lacrosse Magazine, Inside Lacrosse, and United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. He also led the Buckeyes in assists for three seasons in a row and was nationally ranked last season in both points and assists per game, finishing seventh and fourth respectively.
Other Buckeyes received preseason honors, including defensemen senior Marcus Hudgins and sophomore Bobby Van Buren. Both were chosen as USA Lacrosse and Inside Lacrosse preseason All-American honorable mentions.
Junior midfielder Connor Cmiel was also selected as an Inside Lacrosse preseason All-American honorable mention.
This season the field will be filled with new faces, from senior attackman Richie LaCalandra, who transferred from Long Island, and Hudgins, who transferred from Army, to the 12 freshmen who are approaching their very first collegiate game.
Nick Myers said depth is something the coaching staff has been working on through the transfer portal and recruitment because the game continues to get faster.
“We’ve been really proud of seeing some guys get burned and get playing time and see them develop to faster game with the shot clock that it ever has been,” Nick Myers said. “Forces you to play more players, which I think is a great thing, just get more guys game ready.”
Not only has the increasing depth been a factor in preparing for this season, but how the team has utilized its time outside of a regular practice has changed the way they play, Jack Myers said.
“Guys coming in before and staying in late at night and after practice,” Jack Myers said. “You’ll just see a different speed of play than you maybe have before in recent years with this team, and I think it’s reflective of the extra work that guys have been putting out.”
The Buckeyes are ready to experience the full game day environment in their new home full of fans, music blasting and the absence of practice pinnies.
Faceoff is set to take place at noon against Air Force Saturday in the inaugural regular season game at the Ohio State Lacrosse Stadium. BTN+ will broadcast.
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