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The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team, led by four returning all-conference players and returning seven starters, is set to battle through a tough 2010 schedule and a newly-formed ECAC conference.

 

ATTACK
The Buckeye attack will depend on some new faces in 2010 after the graduation of two-time All-American Joel Dalgarno, the all-time goal leader for Ohio State, and Jeff Ryan, who together combined for 110 points last year for the Buckeyes.

The top returnee is senior Mario Ventiquattro, a starter in all 16 games a season ago who was third on the team with 24 goals and 32 points. Junior Mike Pires had 19 goals and 26 points a year ago, starting nine games and seeing action in all 16. Other players back for the team and expected to make an impact are Mike Smail, a sophomore who played in five games in 2009, and junior Tyler Dolphin.

Newcomers to the lineup at attack are freshman Jeff Tundo, a native of Orchard Park, N.Y., and junior transfer Zach Rodgers, who spent the last two years at Massachusetts and led the Minutemen in assists in 2008 with 27.

MIDFIELD
Junior James Green, a two-time second-team All-Great Western Lacrosse League selection, will lead the first midfield, joined by newcomers Dominique Alexander and Logan Schuss. Green enters his senior season with 71 career points on 47 goals and 24 assists in 46 games. He had a 15-10-25 line last season. Alexander comes to Ohio State after a standout prep career at Baldwin High School in New York, while Schuss is a British Columbia native who attended Delta Secondary.

Zach Boyt, a junior who played in nine games last season, with two starts, should see playing time. He will be joined by Paul Beery, who was on the Ohio State squad in 2007, junior Jarred Bowman, who saw action in 10 games last year with two starts, and sophomore Eddie Bambino. the team’s 2009 Outstanding Freshman award winner who had six goals while playing in 16 games (five starts). Freshman Dan Wertz, from Lititz, Pa., and Manheim Township High School, should see time in the midfield as well.

FACOFF
The faceoff X features two newcomers in sophomore Brandon McLean and freshman Trey Wilkes. McLean saw action in just one game a season ago, winning 2-of-5 faceoffs against Notre Dame in the GWLL championship game. Wilkes, from Ijamsville, Md., and Urbana High School, will push for playing time this spring.               

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD
Senior tri-captain Andrew Stimmel, who played in all 16 games a year ago, will lead the short-stick middies, joined by juniors Scott Lathrop and Bryce Woodson who both saw action in all 16 contests in 2009. Expected to compete for playing time are junior TJ Powell, who played in 10 games in 2009, and freshman Kevin Mack from Dublin, Ohio, and Worthington Kilbourne High School.

LONG STICK MIDFIELD
Leading the long-stick middies is sophomore Brock Sorensen who has made the shift from a short-stick midfielder. An invitee to Team Canada’s try-out camp, he played in all 16 games last season and had four goals, three assists and seven points. Junior Conor David was a solid contributor to the Buckeyes last year and appeared in all 16 games. Senior Chris Lowery also will see time after missing time with injuries the last two seasons.

DEFENSE
Two 2009 All-Great Western Lacrosse League selections in Scott Foreman and Matt Kawamoto will anchor the Buckeyes at close defense. Foreman has played in 33 games over the past two seasons, with 52 groundballs. Kawamoto started all but one game last year and had 20 groundballs. Sophomores Keenan Ochwat (16 games played in 2009) and Joe Bonanni (10 GP) round out the defense.

GOALIE
In net, senior tri-captain Brandon Freeman, a second-team All-GWLL selection in his first year as a starter last season returns to lead the Buckeye defense.  Freshman Ryan Brant from Silver Spring, Md., and DeMatha High School has had a great preseason and will work for time as well. Freeman played all but 30 minutes for the Buckeyes in 2009 and was 17th in the NCAA in save percentage (.567).

A NEW HOME
The Buckeyes are in their first season as a member of the ECAC Lacrosse League after the Great Western Lacrosse League was disbanded. Ohio State and fellow GWLL schools Air Force, Denver, Quinnipiac and Bellarmine join Loyola, Hobart and Fairfield in the ECAC in 2010. The league will not hold a postseason tournament this year, with the NCAA tournament automatic bid going to the regular-season champion. A postseason tournament will begin in 2011.

THE 2010 SLATE
The 2010 Ohio State schedule features seven games in Columbus, highlighted by the third annual “Showdown in the Shoe” which features the Buckeyes taking on Air Force April 24 in Ohio Stadium in an ECAC games. Four of the team’s non-conference opponents were NCAA tournament participants a season ago in North Carolina, Notre Dame, Villanova and Massachusetts.

The Buckeyes open the 2010 slate with a home game against 2009 Colonial Athletic Association champion Villanova Feb. 13, with the Wildcats, now members of the Big East, making their first trip to Columbus. After a game at Bucknell Feb. 20 Ohio State returns home for a game vs. 2009 ECAC tournament champion Massachusetts, now a CAA member, Feb. 27. It will serve as the first matchup between the schools.

The following week Penn State comes to town (March 6). The Nittany Lions, now members of the CAA, are the only other Big Ten school to sponsor men’s lacrosse. The teams have met each of the last six years for the unofficial “Big Ten Championship.”

A road trip to Robert Morris March 9 follows before a home game against Albany of the America East Conference April 13, the first game in history between the teams. Ohio State will then hit the road for five-consecutive games. The trip begins with a game at Notre Dame, the 2009 Great Western Lacrosse League champion, who now is a member of the Big East, March 20.

Ohio State opens conference play in the ECAC against Fairfield March 23, followed by a game at Quinnipiac four days later (March 27). April starts with league games at Loyola April 3 and Hobart April 10 and the Buckeyes return home to host Denver April 17, Air Force April 24 and Bellarmine May 1 in league games.

The final game of the season is May 8 at North Carolina in the first half of a home-and-home series between the teams.
     
THE 2010 SHOWDOWN IN THE SHOE
For the third consecutive year the Buckeyes will host a conference game in Ohio Stadium prior to the Buckeye football team’s spring game. This year, the team will take on Air Force April 24 in the “Showdown in the Shoe.”

In the inaugural “Showdown in the Shoe” matchup in April 2008, Ohio State downed Denver in front of a then-NCAA regular-season and on-campus record crowd of 29,601. Last season, the Buckeyes and Notre Dame broke the mark when 30,192 filled the stands by halftime of an eventual Irish win. Fans continued to file into the stadium throughout the game, reaching upwards of 80,000 by the end of the lacrosse contest en route to the football spring game setting its own national attendance record of 95,722.