May 6, 2004
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The No. 6 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team (12-2, 5-0/1st GWLL) ends the regular season at noon Saturday when it faces No. 7 North Carolina (7-4, 2-1 ACC) at Fetzer Field (Grass/5,700) in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Buckeyes beat Fairfield (10-7) last weekend to improve to 5-0 in the Great Western Lacrosse League and win the outright conference championship. It is the first outright title for the squad under head coach Joe Breschi; the squad was co-champion in 1999 and tri-champion in 2003.
By virtue of winning the GWLL title, the Buckeyes clinched the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. The bracket will be announced Monday between 3 and 4 p.m. EDT on ESPNews. It marks the second consecutive and second overall trip for Ohio State to the national tourney.
Ohio State enters the weekend on an 11-game winning streak. The stretch is the Buckeyes’ longest since they won 13 in a row during the 1978 season. Ohio State has not lost since falling in double overtime to UMBC March 7. The Buckeyes’ winning streak is the longest current streak in the nation.
BEST IN THE NATION
Ohio State is tied for the national lead in team defense, allowing just 6.79 goals a game. The defense is led by senior goalie Tony Russo, who is second in the nation with a 6.46 goals-against average. The key defenders for the Buckeyes this season include Greg Bice, Peter Frantz, Brian Yontz, Mike McKenna, Matt Cafarelli, Jeff Schneider, Chris Brown and John Dauro. The squad has allowed more than nine goals just once this season (in the 13-12 overtime win over Hobart).
IN THE RANKINGS
Ohio State improved to No. 6 in the Geico/STX Coaches Poll and dropped one to No. 7 in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.
North Carolina is No. 7 in the coaches poll and holds down the No. 8 spot in the media ranking.
Senior Tony Russo made 12 saves against Fairfield to become Ohio State’s all-time leader in career saves. Russo has 620 saves as a Buckeye, passing the previous mark of 610 set by Jim Hartnett from 1979-81.
Buckeye head coach Joe Breschi is one win shy of tying the Ohio State record for coaching victories (60) held by Paul Hartman (1961-66). Breschi is 59-36 (.621) at the helm for OSU.
WITH THE BEST
The Buckeyes are tied with Navy for the national lead with 12 wins on the year. They are tied for second in the country in winning percentage (12-2, 85.7 percent), behind only Johns Hopkins (10-1, 90.9 percent).
RAISING THE BAR
Ohio State’s 12 wins on the year are the most since the 1988 squad posted 12 victories and are tied for the fourth-most in a single season in program history. The 1965 Buckeye team holds the record with 15 wins in a season, while the 1966 and 1978 editions had 14 wins each.
It is a career best for seventh-year head coach Joe Breschi, whose 1999 team won 10 games. This is the fourth season with at least nine wins under Breschi.
THE SERIES – OSU VS. UNC
Ohio State trails the all-time series with North Carolina, 9-0, including 6-0 in Chapel Hill. The teams have met the last two seasons, with both games decided by one goal. Last year, UNC topped the Buckeyes in Columbus, 9-8. In 2002, the Tar Heels won in triple overtime, 13-12, in Chapel Hill.
The Last Five Meetings 3/12/03 L 8-9 H 2/16/02 L 12-13 3OT A 3/18/00 L 8-13 A 4/29/98 L 5-18 H 3/21/95 L 3-20 A
Ohio State head coach Joe Breschi will face his alma mater Saturday. Breschi, who played for the Tar Heels from 1987-90, was a two-time All-ACC selection, as well as a first team All-American in 1990 and an honorable mention All-America selection in 1989. Breschi, UNC’s captain as a senior, was named to the prestigious Atlantic Coast Conference 50th Anniversary Men’s Lacrosse Team in 2002.
In addition, Breschi spent two seasons as an assistant coach at North Carolina. The squad captured two ACC titles and a national championship, posting a 28-3 record, during his tenure.
SCOUTING THE TAR HEELS
North Carolina is 7-4 on the year and went 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The squad will face Limestone Wednesday before playing host to the Buckeyes Saturday. UNC lost to Virginia, 11-9, in the ACC Tournament in Chapel Hill April 23 in its last time out.
As a team, North Carolina is averaging 10.87 goals a game to rank 10th in the nation, while allowing 8.78 goals a game. The squad is fourth in the country in man-up offense (46.9 percent) and fifth in face-off winning percentage (62.8 percent).
Jed Prossner leads UNC with 30 goals and 40 points and is sixth in the country in goals per game (2.73). Bryant Will is first in assists with 14, while Mike McCall is second in goals with 22 and third in points with 26. Scott Falatach is second in assists (12) and in points (27). Kevin Frew is first in the nation in groundballs per game (8.45) and is sixth in face-off winning percentage (.626). In goal, Paul Spellman has started 10 games, with an 8.46 goals-against average and a .602 save percentage.
John Haus, a 1983 graduate of North Carolina, is in his fourth year at the helm of his alma mater. He is 28-21 at UNC and overall.
THE LAST MEETING – UNC 9, AT OSU 8
Ohio State men’s lacrosse team was defeated by No. 13 North Carolina, 9-8, March 12, 2003 at the North Turf Field in Columbus. OSU entered the third quarter trailing, 3-6, but rattled off five consecutive goals after an early UNC score to take an 8-7 lead. However, the Tar Heels tied the game just six seconds later and then scored a man-up goal with 1:49 remaining for the win.
Austin Garrison got UNC on the board less than two minutes into the game, but Curtis Smith scored the first of his four goals on the day to tie the game with 6:17 remaining. UNC then scored the next three goals, by Mike McCall, Jeff Prossner and Garrison, to take a 4-1 lead early in the second quarter. Smith cut the Tar Heels’ lead to two at 7:17 and the score remained that way until the teams scored three goals, two by UNC and one by OSU, in the last minute of the half. McCall scored with 59 seconds remaining before the Buckeyes’ Anthony Kelly scored just five seconds later, winning a faceoff and running down the field for the score. Kyle Bell ended the scoring in the half with nine seconds remaining. The Tar Heels led at the half, 6-3.
After Garrison scored his third goal of the game just over three minutes into the third quarter, the momentum shifted to the Buckeyes’ side, as the team posted five consecutive goals to take a 7-8 lead. Nick Miceli got OSU rolling, scoring just 50 seconds after the UNC tally. The Buckeyes’ then scored back-to-back man-up goals, by Curtis Smith and Anthony Gilardi, at 8:13 and 4:08. Mike Norton tied the game with a goal at 3:24.
Curtis Smith gave OSU its first lead of the game at 12:39 of the final quarter, however, UNC’s Ryan Blair scored six seconds later to tie the game. The score was knotted until Prossner scored, set up by Bell, with 1:49 remaining. The Buckeyes had a chance to tie the game with the ball in the Tar Heel end with under 20 seconds remaining, but were unable to score.
OSU outshot UNC, 39-32, in the game. Tony Russo started the game in net for the Buckeyes and made 13 saves in 53:41 of play. He was replaced by Jon Miller for 6:19 in the second quarter after being struck with the ball. Miller made one save in the game. Paul Spellman played 59:09 for UNC, making 18 saves.
Curtis Smith led the Buckeyes with four goals, while Gilardi had a goal and two assists for three points. Norton had a goal and an assist in the game. Garrison led the Tar Heels with four points, on three goals and an assist. Prossner and McCall each added two goals for UNC.
RISING THE CHARTS
Senior Anthony Gilardi, who leads the Buckeyes in assists (23) and points (40), now has 130 points as a Buckeye to rank 13th (tied) in program history. Gilardi’s 56 career assists rank eighth in OSU annals. He is three back of Todd Walker’s 57 helpers (1976-79).
Buckeye goalie Tony Russo is nationally ranked in two categories. He is second in the nation in goals-against average (6.46) and ranks eighth in save percentage (.620).
DOUBLE IT UP AGAIN
The Buckeyes scored 11 or more goals in six of the previous seven games before being held to nine goals in back-to-back games against Air Force and Denver. The squad hit the double-digit mark again when it tallied 10 times in the win over Fairfield.
OSU has scored at last 10 goals eight times this season and ranks 12th in nation in team offense, averaging 10.71 goals a game.
The Buckeyes are third in the nation in scoring margin, as they have outscored their opponents by 3.93 goals a game this season. The squad is averaging 10.71 goals a game to rank 12th in the nation, while giving up just 6.79 an outing to ranks tied for first.
WITH THE ADVANTAGE
Ohio State has converted 34.7 percent of its man-up opportunities this season to rank 16th in the nation. The squad has scored 17 goals on 49 chances, including a 2-for-8 performance against Fairfield in its last time out. Tom Randisi is first with six man-up goals, Gary Bining, Kyle Olson and Craig Nolan have three each and Anthony Gilardi has two.
Senior Anthony Gilardi has a career-best and team-high 23 assists this season. Entering the year, he had 33 total assists in the last three seasons, with a then-career best 14 as a sophomore in 2002. Gilardi is 15th in the nation, averaging 1.64 assists a game.
Senior Anthony Gilardi extended his scoring streak to 12 with five points (3-2) in the win over Fairfield. Gilardi is the only Buckeye with at least one point in every game this year, with four two-point, two three-point, three four-point, one five point and one six-point performance.
Shaun Lyons is on an eight-game goal-scoring streak and has at least one goal in all but two games this season. Lyons has one four-goal performance, as well as three three-goal outings. He is tied for the team lead with a career-best 21 goals this season.
Shaun Lyons extended his scoring streak to eight while Kyle Olson moved his to six after both posted points against Fairfield. Lyons has a 12-5-17 line during the streak, while Olson has 12-5-17 in the last six games. Craig Nolan enters the UNC game on a four-game scoring streak (7-2-9), as does Ben Wolff (4-3-7). Jason Bloom had a six-game scoring streak stopped against Fairfield.
IT’S A TEAM GAME
In the Buckeyes’ 14 games this season, seven players have led the squad or been tied for the team lead in points in a single game. Anthony Gilardi leads the way, as he has led the squad (or tied) in points in six games. Gilardi is followed by Tom Randisi, Ben Wolff and Shaun Lyons with three each, while Kyle Olson led the squad twice and Andrew Bender and Ryan Laffey were first on the team in points in a game once each.
GETTING THE JOB DONE
Sophomore Gary Bining has three goals this season, with all three coming in man-up situations. Bining also has three assists for a career-best six points on the year.
Senior captain Matt Cafarelli has a career-best 18 groundballs this season, topping his previous best of 17 set in 2002.
THE GROUNDBALL BATTLE
After the graduation of Anthony Kelly, who led the Buckeyes in groundballs each of the last four seasons, the Buckeyes will have a new winner of the Most Groundballs in a Season Award this year. Seniors Greg Bice and Josh Lesko lead the way with 60 and 50 groundballs, respectively. Goalie Tony Russo is third with 42 groundballs.
A CAREER YEAR
Buckeye junior captain Tom Randisi has posted career highs in goals (20) and points (26) this season and has tied his career high in assists (6). Randisi topped his previous career marks of 12 goals and 18 points, both set as a freshman in 2002.
The Buckeyes scored three fourth-quarter goals to force overtime and then won in the first overtime session against Denver, marking the squad’s third fourth-quarter comeback of the season. The squad scored seven goals in the fourth quarter to come back from an 11-4 deficit late in the third quarter in its overtime win over Hobart and rallied from a 7-4 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Notre Dame, 9-8.
Buckeye junior Tom Randisi leads the squad with six man-up goals this season and recorded the team’s lone man-down goal of the year in the win over Hobart.
This season, seven Buckeyes have posted double-digits in goals. Shaun Lyons and Kyle Olson are tied for first with 21, followed by Tom Randisi with 20, Ben Wolff with 19, Anthony Gilardi with 17, Craig Nolan with 12 and Andrew Bender with 10. In all, 17 Buckeyes have scored at least one goal this season.
Among the Buckeyes’ goal-scoring leaders, Ben Wolff leads the group in shooting percentage. Wolff has converted 19 of his 43 shots (44.2 percent). Bryan Keane is first on the team with a shooting percentage of 100 percent, as he converted his one shot of the season. Gary Bining is second, with three goals on six shots (50 percent).
Seven Buckeyes have scored a game-winning goal this season. Anthony Gilardi is first with three, while Kyle Olson, Ryan Laffey and Craig Nolan each have two and Shaun Lyons, Ben Wolff and Andrew Bender each have one.
OVERCOMING A SLOW START
Four of the Buckeyes’ wins have come when the squad has trailed at the end of the first quarter this season. The squad is 4-0 when trailing after one quarter, 3-1 when trailing at halftime and 3-1 when down at the end of the third quarter.
HAVE A GAME
Anthony Gilardi (at Hobart), Kyle Olson (vs. Butler), Tom Randisi (at Notre Dame) and Shaun Lyons (at Navy) each have scored a team season-high four goals in a game this season. Gilardi had a team season-best five assists vs. Air Force, while Olson marked a season high for the Buckeyes with six points against Duke and Gilardi tied that mark vs. the Falcons.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
The Buckeyes’ nine seniors marked their last regular-season home games with two wins last weekend. OSU’s senior class includes Anthony Gilardi (Baldwin, N.Y.), Mike McKenna (Cockeysville, Md.), Jon Miller (Corning, N.Y.), Josh Lesko (Annapolis, Md.), Tony Russo (Fallston, Md.), Ryan Laffey (Huntington, N.Y.), Matt Cafarelli (Dublin, Ohio), Shaun Lyons (Hicksville, N.Y.) and Greg Bice (Helotes, Texas).
In the last three-plus years (including this campaign), the group has contributed 37 wins, back-to-back GWLL co-championships and two NCAA appearances, including the first in program history last year.
A LOOK BACK
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.
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.
BREAK IT DOWN
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 game against North Carolina ends the regular season for the Buckeyes. Monday, the Division I men’s lacrosse national championship bracket will be announced between 3 and 4 p.m. EDT on ESPNews. Ohio State is assured of a berth by virtue of winning the GWLL’s automatic bid.