Feb. 19, 2004

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The No. 17 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team (0-0, 0-0 GWLL) opens the 2004 season with a home game against No. 15 Penn State (0-0, 0-0 ECAC) at 1 p.m. Saturday at the North Turf Field in Columbus.

The Buckeyes were ranked 17th in the Face-Off Yearbook’s Division I Preseason Coaches Poll and held down the 20th spot in the Lacrosse Magazine 2004 Preseason College Rankings.

Penn State is ranked 15th by Face-Off Yearbook and is 17th in the Lacrosse Magazine poll.

Buckeye senior defenseman Greg Bice was named to Face-Off Yearbook’s Division I Preseason All-America second team, while senior goalie Tony Russo earned honorable mention preseason All-America accolades. Each earned STX/USILA All-America honorable mention accolades last season.

Five Buckeyes were selected by a vote of their teammates to serve as captains for the squad this season – senior defensemen Greg Bice and Matt Cafarelli, senior attack Anthony Gilardi, senior goalie Tony Russo and junior midfielder Tom Randisi. “The neat thing about this group of captains is they are the best at each position,” OSU coach Joe Breschi said. “They cover the entire field and we are going to have leadership at all spots on the field.”

Last year, the Buckeyes had one of the most outstanding years in program history. The squad shared the Great Western Lacrosse League title and earned the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. The appearance in the national tourney was the first in program history. The squad ended the year 9-5 overall and 4-1 in the GWLL.

The Buckeyes are 19-30-1 all-time in season openers. The team fell at home to Navy, 13-10, Feb. 22, 2003, in the opener last year.

The Buckeyes return 26-of-38 letterwinners and 6-of-10 starters from the 2003 squad.

The Buckeyes trail the all-time series with the Nittany Lions, 0-7, including a 13-4 loss in State College, Pa., last season.

DATE W/L OSU/PSU SITE 5/3/03 L 4-13 A 2/25/96 L 7-8 OT H 3/3/95 L 7-15 A 4/3/82 L 4-24 A 4/4/81 L 5-15 H 4/5/80 L 3-17 n/a 4/7/79 L 11-14 H

Penn State was picked to finish third in the ECAC in the preseason

Like Ohio State, the Nittany Lions made their first NCAA tournament appearance last season. PSU had a 7-7 record on the year and tied for second in the ECAC with a 3-2 mark.

The team returns five starters and 28 letterwinners from the 2003 squad. Included in the mix is senior longstick midfielder Rob Bateman, who was named the ECAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Junior midfielder Will Jones, as well as Bateman, was named to the preseason All-ECAC squad.

Glenn Thiel, a 1966 graduate of Penn State, is in his 27th year at the helm of his alma mater. Thiel has a record of 190-137 at PSU. In his career, he is 267-173, including a NCAA championship at Virginia in 1972.

Penn State competes in the Eastern College Athletic Conference for lacrosse, along with Georgetown, Massachusetts-Amherst and Rutgers. Navy and UMBC left the ECAC at the end of the 2003 season and will be replaced by Hobart, Loyola (Md.) and St. John’s for the 2005 campaign.

Ohio State has seven ranked teams on the schedule this year. The squad opens with a stretch of three consecutive games vs. Top 20 opponents, starting off with No. 15 Penn State at home, followed by No. 18 Navy and No. 19 UMBC on the road. The team then returns home to face Drexel before a four-game road swing to Quinnipiac, Marist, Hartford and GWLL-foe and No. 16 Notre Dame. The squad will then play four of the next five games at home, as it plays host to No. 9 Duke and GWLL opponent Butler in consecutive weeks and GWLL opponents No. 23 Denver and Air Force on the same weekend, sandwiched around a road game at Hobart. OSU ends the GWLL slate with a road game at Fairfield and then closes out the regular season at No. 8 North Carolina.

“This may be our most competitive schedule yet with several teams ranked in the preseason Top 25,” Breschi said. “Playing the best in the country out of conference will help prepare us for league play.”

Senior Tony Russo, the 2003 GWLL Player of the Year, returns as the Buckeyes’ starter in goal for the fourth year. Russo enters the year eighth in OSU history with 478 career saves, 132 saves shy of the all-time mark of 610 set by Jim Hartnett from 1979-81.

Senior Anthony Gilardi is the Buckeyes’ leading returning scorer with 16-10-26 totals last season. Gilardi enters the year with 90 career points and should become the 22nd member of the OSU 100-point club this season.

Tom Randisi is the second top returning scorer with 11 goals, five assists and 16 points last season.

This season, the Buckeyes’ roster contains nine seniors, nine juniors, 15 sophomores and 22 freshmen.

The roster contains 17 players from Ohio, 10 from New York, eight from Maryland, three from Pennsylvania, two each from Missouri, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, British Columbia and New Jersey and one each from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts and Michigan.

The Buckeyes have won five consecutive games in Columbus after closing out the home portion of the 2003 regular season on a five-game winning streak. The team was 5-2 at home last year, with wins over Army, Delaware, Notre Dame, Fairfield and UMBC.

Former Buckeye standout Pat Myers, who graduated from Ohio State in Spring 2003, is serving as the squad’s volunteer assistant coach this season. Myers takes over for his brother, Nick, who joined the Butler staff over the summer.

The Buckeyes hit the road for two games, as they travel to face Navy at noon Feb. 28 in Annapolis, Md., and UMBC at 1 p.m. March 6 in Baltimore, Md.

The Buckeyes will return to Columbus March 13 for a game against Drexel at noon. The teams are scheduled to meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.