April 17, 2002
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The No. 16 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team (6-4, 0-1 GWLL) plays host to two Great Western Lacrosse League foes this weekend. The Buckeyes will face Denver (5-5, 0-2 GWLL) at 7 p.m. Friday and Air Force (3-5, 1-1 GWLL) at noon Sunday. Both games will be played in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 16 this week in Inside Lacrosse Media Poll. In the STX/USILA coaches poll, the squad is tied for 18th.
A Look at the Denver Pioneers
Denver is 5-5 on the season, including a mark of 0-2 in the GWLL. In league play, the Pioneers fell to Notre Dame, 15-8, and to Fairfield, 12-11 in double overtime. The squad is coming off a 19-5 home victory over Colorado College.
Offensively, Denver is led by Matt Brown, who has 30 goals and 37 points. Erik Swanson has a team-best 15 assists and is second with 28 points. Jeff Biggs is second on the team with 17 goals. In goal, Jeff Nunziato has started 9-of-10 games, posting a goals-against average of 7.95 and a save percentage of 57.1.
Jamie Munro, a 1989 graduate of Brown, is in his fourth year at the helm of the Pioneers. The 2000 GWLL Coach of the Year, Munro has a career record of 25-24. Prior to becoming the head coach for the Pioneers, Munro spent eight seasons as the top assistant at Yale.
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series with Denver, 5-1, with their only loss coming on the road to the Pioneers last season, 13-7.
The last time the teams met in Columbus (April 21, 2000), the Buckeyes posted a 9-8 victory over the Pioneers. OSU never has lost to Denver in Columbus.
The Last Meeting
Ohio State and Denver last met April 20, 2001, with the Pioneers recording a 13-7 victory at Pioneer Field in Denver. Ohio State jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second quarter but the Pioneers scored five consecutive goals to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Scouting the Air Force Falcons
The Falcons enter the weekend with an overall mark of 3-5, 1-1 in conference play. Air Force will play at Butler Friday before taking on the Buckeyes Sunday. In league play, the squad lost to Notre Dame, 9-3, but topped Fairfield, 8-5.
Air Force is led by Matt Dudderar, who has 14 points, including 10 goals. Greg Dangler is tied for second with 12 points, including a team-best nine assists. In goal, Bill Arnold has started all eight games. He has a goals-against average of 8.1 and a save percentage of .622.
Fred Acee, 1963 graduate of SUNY Cortland, is in his fourth year at the helm of the Falcons and in his 34th year overall. He enters the weekend with a career mark of 326-166-1, 14-47-0 at AFA.
Ohio State trails the all-time series with Air Force, 6-10-0, but has won the last four meetings.
The Last Meeting
Last season, Ohio State dropped Air Force, 11-10, April 22 in Colorado Springs, Colo. In a back-and-forth game that saw five ties, OSU’s Sandy Boyce scored with 6:13 left to break a 10-all deadlock and lift the Buckeyes to the win.
Four members of the Denver Pioneers are from the Columbus area. Brian Sanders, Craig Pastor and Ethan Goodwin all attended Upper Arlington High School, as did Ohio State’s Mark Engel. Denver’s Mike Hadden went to high school at Thomas Worthington, the same alma mater as OSU’s Dan Savage.
Tony Russo made a season-high 18 saves in the Buckeyes’ double-overtime loss to Fairfield last weekend. He has 128 saves this season.
Too Close for Comfort
Four of the Buckeyes games have been decided by one goal this season, with OSU going 2-2 in those contests. The Buckeyes’ two one-goal losses both came in overtime, as they fell in three overtimes at North Carolina and in double overtime at Fairfield.
Anthony Gilardi has scored three or more goals in each of the Buckeyes’ last five games. He has led the squad with three goals in each of the last two games. Gilardi had a season-high four goals in OSU’s win at Delaware. He is second on the team with a career-best 26 goals, just four behind leader Curtis Smith’s 30 scores.
Among the Best
The NCAA released the fourth edition of the 2002 national rankings Tuesday (through games of April 14) and the Buckeyes were ranked in almost every category.
On offense, Curtis Smith is tied for 10th in goals-per-game (3.00) and 14th in points-per-game (3.80). Mike Norton is tied for 11th in the nation with 2.00 assists per game. Anthony Gilardi is 15th (tied) with 2.60 goals per game.
On the Draw
Ohio State is 11th in the nation in face-off winning percentage, winning 57.7 of its draws. Josh Lesko is 19th in the nation at 58.7 percent. Anthony Kelly is just outside the Top 20 (57.9).
Saves and More Saves
Buckeye goalie Tony Russo ranks third in the nation in save percentage (.624). He is 16th in goals-against average (8.16).
It’s a Team Thing
As a team, Ohio State is ranked in a number of areas. The squad is ninth in the nation in scoring margin, outscoring its opponents by 3.80. OSU is eighth in scoring offense (11.90) and is 11th in scoring defense (8.10). The team is ranked third in man-up offense (.457).
A Trio to Watch Out For
Ohio State’s offense is spearheaded by the trio of Curtis Smith, Anthony Gilardi and Mike Norton. They lead the team with 38, 36 and 30 points, respectively. Smith holds the team lead in goals with 30, while Norton leads the squad in assists with 20. Gilardi is second in goals (26) and assists (10).
Greg Bice, a preseason honorable mention All-America selection by Face-Off Yearbook, led the Buckeyes with eight groundballs against Fairfield. He already has 33 this season, exceeding the 31 he recorded as a freshman last season.
Three in a Row?
Junior Anthony Kelly won the Buckeyes’ award for most groundballs in a season in his first two seasons with the squad. This season, he leads the team with 50. The next-highest total is 36, recorded by Josh Lesko. Kelly is the first player at Ohio State to win the groundball award in both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
The Buckeyes were 4-for-4 on extra-man defense against Fairfield. The squad has stopped 35-of-50 opponent chances this season (70 percent).
The Buckeyes are outshooting their opponents, 389-337, this season. The squad has been accurate with its shots, scoring on 30.6 percent of the attempts. The Buckeyes have held opponents to goals on just 24 percent of their shot attempts. Curtis Smith leads the team with 67 shots this season, followed by Anthony Gilardi with 59.
Hit the Bullseye
Curtis Smith, who leads the Buckeyes with 67 shots this season, including 10 against Fairfield, has scored on 44.8 percent of his attempts. Smith has a team-best 30 goals so far this season.
Posting Zeroes – Again
The Buckeyes held Fairfield scoreless in the first quarter, the third time they have shut out an opponent to start a game this season. The squad also did not allow a goal in the opening stanza against Manhattan and Delaware.
The Time to Watch the Buckeyes
The second quarter has been the Buckeyes’ best this season. The squad has scored 41 goals in the stanza while allowing 21.
The Rest of the Game
Ohio State has tallied 32 goals in the first period, jumping out to quick leads on its opponents, as Buckeye opponents have scored 15 goals in the opening stanza. In the third quarter, Ohio State has scored 27 times, but has tallied just 19 goals in the fourth.
Curtis Smith has scored at least two goals in nine of the Buckeyes’ 10 games this season. He scored six against Delaware, four against North Carolina, Georgetown and Manhattan, three at Army and two against VMI, Quinnipiac, Drexel and Fairfield. His only single-goal game was vs. Johns Hopkins.
Junior Mike Norton has 20 assists this season in 10 games, just one short of his career high of 21 recorded in 14 games last season. He has a career-best 10 goals, surpassing his total of eight in each of his first two seasons.
It’s Been a While
Senior Mark Engel scored against Delaware, his first goal since his freshman season. He has six points this season, a career best, after not recording a point in his sophomore or junior years.
Ohio State has been led by a hat trick scorer in nine of its 10 games. Curtis Smith scored six goals against Delaware, four against North Carolina, Georgetown and Manhattan and three against Army. Anthony Gilardi scored three vs. Army, three vs. Johns Hopkins and three vs. Fairfield. Ryan Laffey and Lance Vitt each tallied three in the win over VMI, while Mike Norton turned the trick vs. Drexel. The lone game where no Buckeye hit for a hat trick was against Quinnipiac, where four Buckeyes scored twice,
The Buckeyes have been efficient on extra-man offense this season, scoring on an outstanding 21-of-46 (45.7) opportunities. In the season opener against North Carolina, the squad was a perfect 4-for-4.
Moving To the Top
Sophomore Anthony Gilardi has 36 points this season after leading the Buckeyes with three goals against Johns Hopkins and posting four points, on three goals and an assist, vs. Fairfield. For the year, he has 26 goals and 10 assists. As a freshman last season, Gilardi had 17 points, on eight goals and nine assists, in 12 games.
At The Helm
Joe Breschi, a 1990 graduate of North Carolina, is in his fifth season at the helm of the Buckeyes. A standout player for the Tar Heels, he was a two-time All-ACC selection, a two-time All-America honoree and a North-South All-Star Game participant in 1990. Breschi was a member of the U.S. National Team in 1994 and 1998. Prior to coming to Ohio State, Breschi served as an assistant coach at Brown (1993-97) and at UNC, his alma mater (1991-92). His career record stands at 35-28.
In 10 games this season, sophomore Ryan Laffey has eight points, on six goals and two assists. Laffey saw action in nine games last season, posting one goal and one assist.
Freshman Tom Randisi is fifth on the team, and first among rookies, in scoring this season. He has started all nine games, recording seven goals, six assists and 13 points.
This season, 21 Buckeyes have recorded at least one point, with 20 posting at least one goal.
The Buckeyes defense has been tough this season, allowing 8.10 goals per game. The defense is led by Greg Bice, Brandon Paul and Toby Mink. Bice and Paul have started every game, while Mink stepped into the starting role after Dan Savage was injured early in the season.
The captains this season, as voted by the squad, are Pete Dillon, John DiCamillo, Mark Marion and Kevin Stephan. Dillon and Stephan are in their second seasons as captains.
Light It Up
The game Friday marks the first night game for the Buckeyes in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. The squad will play host to another night game April 27 when it faces off against Butler in its home finale.
The Buckeyes have scooped up 442 groundballs this season, while allowing their opponents 308. Ohio State is averaging 44.2 groundballs per game this season.
Home Sweet Home
Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium opened its doors in Fall 1999. Since then it has been home to the Ohio State men’s and women’s soccer teams in the fall and the men’s and women’s lacrosse and track teams in the spring. The stadium is one of the finest collegiate lacrosse facilities in the nation. The playing surface is Kentucky bluegrass. Since last season, construction was completed on an elevated grandstand-with seating available for an additional 8,000 spectators-concourse level and a working press box. Surrounded by a wrought iron fence with brick piers, the stadium also houses locker rooms and offices for the men’s and women’s soccer, men’s tennis, men’s and women’s lacrosse, field hockey and softball programs.
The Buckeyes continue their three-game home stand, closing out the home portion of their schedule at 7 p.m. April 27 vs. Butler in Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU ends the regular season at Notre Dame May 4.