Five Buckeyes – four former and one current – represented their respective countries at the 2018 FIL World Championships, which took place July 12-21 in Netanya, Israel. Tre Leclaire and Jake Withers advanced all the way to the finals, winning silver with Team Canada while host Israel and Ryan Hunter finished seventh. Ricky Pages led Puerto Rico to an eighth place finish and Mario Ventiquettro was on the 10th-place Philippines squad. In all, Ohio State’s five representatives finished with a 20-9 overall record at the championships.
“It is a great honor to represent your country on any stage and to be able to share the experience along side a fellow Buckeye.”
Tre Leclaire was one of only three players who competed in both the 2016 U-19 World Championships and 2018 FIL World Championships gold medal games. He played in all seven games with three goals and one assist.
“It was an incredible honor and privilege to play for and represent Canada on the world stage! Although the outcome wasn’t what we hoped for, the experience was a dream come true and something that I will cherish and learn from for the rest of my life. Playing alongside a fellow Buckeye and running into many others in Israel on the world stage is a true testament to the outstanding culture at Ohio State!”
Jake Withers also played in all seven games for Team Canada, winning 55 percent of his face-offs while adding 19 ground balls and a goal. He is the only player in the last 15 months to play in the NCAA Championship Game, Mann Cup Finals, NLL Finals and World Championships gold medal game.
“Playing in the World Championships meant more than just playing on the biggest stage. I felt as if I were playing for something different than I have ever played before. To play for Israel, the host country that I moved to a year ago, meant I would be representing hundreds of Israeli youth players who were at every game, cheering for the full 80 minutes.”
Ryan Hunter was third on the Israeli team with six goals and added four assists. “Having five Buckeyes representatives was terrific to see. I am just honored to be one of them,” he added. “I had an opportunity to play against two of them, Ricky Pages and Mario Ventiquattro. Although they both played at Ohio State a few years before me, and we were competitors on the field, immediately after the game, the Buckeye bond was strong, and there was no doubt that we were going to find each other after the game to get our Buckeye picture together and have a quick O-H chant. There was a lot of Buckeye Pride in Israel for the 2018 World Championships. Competitors on the field, but friends when the final whistle blows.”
“It felt absolutely incredible to get back on the field to not only represent my country but also The Ohio State University and my family. The experience was unlike any other and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to play on the biggest stage.”
Mario Ventiquattro finished with 15 goals and 10 assists in seven games and was named to the President’s Team (10 most outstanding players outside of the Blue Group).
“We went from being ranked 50th to 10th in the world in our first ever appearance in the World Games. We had an amazing group of players, coaches, and supporting cast who I now consider my family. To be coached by my father again (first time since high school) was a dream come true for me. My brother was also a part of the coaching staff and my mother in the stands, which made the experience that much more special for me. I’ll remember this forever.”
“To be given the chance to represent my family’s heritage and also The Ohio State University on the biggest stage for the sport of lacrosse was needless to say a truly emotional and humbling experience. Buckeye Nation was represented well in these games and it’s all a testament to the values that were instilled into all of us that bleed scarlet and Gray.”