Seems odd to say, but after Saturday's game against UMass, the regular season will be 25% complete. Time certainly flies when you're having fun. And thus far, the Buckeyes have been having a great season of lacrosse in 2020.
Two wins, 34 goals scored in those wins, only 13 allowed, and a midfield that is so young you probably don't even need to give them razors. Despite that youth, the Mitchell brothers and Griffin Hughes have been lighting things up this year. And they'll certainly have a new test in UMass this week.
UMass comes into this game off an absolute beatdown at the hands of Army. The Black Knights crushed the Minutemen 17-4 last weekend, and it may not be even as close as that score indicates.
Army is a different animal, in that they have athletes defensively that few other programs can bring in. UMass, despite bringing back nearly its entire offense, really struggled to break through the Army D.
The Minutemen took 26 shots, but only converted 4 of them. Redshirt Senior Billy Philpott (#23) led all scorers for UMass gwith 2 of their 4 goals. He is a part-time offensive player who will also run out as an SSDM.
Basically a more offensively minded Terefenko, without the same dynamism. Ohio State should match up well against the Minutemen, especially as Jacob Snyder and Ben Williams get more experience at the college level.
The Minutemen's woes extended to special teams, where they went 0-5 against Army's Man Down unit.
That's very reminiscent of the Buckeye Man Up unit last year. And should give a retooled Buckeye Man Down unit plenty of hope, as the Bucks racked up 5 penalties last year.
Defensively, UMass is very similar to Detroit Mercy. They like to slide adjacent, but don't play as much high-pressure defense. Where Detroit would push out and play the ballcarrier on the perimeter, UMass generally stays tight and tries to force teams into a poor spot for the quick double team.
At close D, UMass starts senior Jackson Suboch (#37), junior Sam Eisenstadt (#44), and sophomore Adam Towey (#27). As a unit, the defense tended to get caught in moments of indecision, especially when a dodge occurred well below GLE.
I can see JT Bugliosi, Johnny Wiseman, or one of the Mitchell brothers going low and taking a run in to score. Army had several goals that way last weekend. UMass will need to be much more decisive on their defensive slides if they want to hang with OSU. If not, it could be ugly fast.
At FOGO, UMass starts freshman Zack Hochman. Hochman was 12-22 against Army, good for 55% on the day. By contrast, Christian Feliziani and the backups really struggled in Boston, only going 3-18 against Boston.
A 17% faceoff win rate is definitely not good enough, and shows how much they miss Inacio. Recruiting FOGOs is challenging, and right now there is no depth at that spot. If Inacio is out all year, it will be hard for OSU to make a deep postseason run.
In goal, Josh Kirson put up the performance of his life last week, making 18 saves against a poor BU team. As good as Kirson was, freshman Matt Knote (#21) was equally bad in his outing against Army. Understandable for a true freshman, Knote really didn't track the ball well, or get his defense organized.
Even with 10 saves, Knote had a 35% save percentage at the end of the day. If Kirson can build on his current form, UMass will be in for a very long day on offense. And it could spell a big Buckeye W in the frigid confines of the Shoe.
On the whole, it appears that the Buckeyes should have little trouble getting to 3-0 on the year tomorrow. The defense has been very much improved over last year, the offense is really playing at a high level, especially at attack, and Kirson has stabilized the goalie position for now. This team is off to a good start, and while they will certainly be challenged this year, it won't be by UMass.
Final prediction: 13-7, Buckeyes.