Cleveland State Faces Second Straight In-State Clash

Cleveland State Faces Second Straight In-State Clash

Cleveland State (2-6) at Wittenberg (2-2)
Thursday, March 16 | 1:00 p.m.
Springfield, Ohio | Edwards-Maurer Field
Live Video | Live Stats

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The Cleveland State University lacrosse team continues its road trip by playing a second straight game against an in-state foe. The Vikings head to Wittenberg, in a contest that was recently scheduled, Thursday at 1:00 p.m.

Wittenberg makes its home debut against Cleveland State after having its scheduled home opener against Capital postponed. The Tigers have had 10 consecutive seasons at .500 or better entering the 2017 campaign. Senior midfielder Zach Shy has a team-leading 15 points in the opening four games, including 10 goals. Freshman Noah Moderwell is tied for the team lead with 10 goals in the early going. Three Tigers have played at least 60 minutes in the cage.

Jake Lewis has served as not only the Vikings' top offensive weapon thus far this season, but also the team's most consistent performer. He is the only Viking to score in six of the team's first eight games. Lewis is also the only Viking to contribute multiple points in seven or more contests. He set season bests in assists (3) and points (5) March 4 against Canisius and tops the team in both categories.

While Cleveland State fell at Ohio State last time out, midfielder Danny Tesler's return to action provided a bright spot. Tesler scored twice and won 8-of-14 faceoffs. In doing so, he extended his point streak to a team season-best six games. He leads the team in faceoff winning percentage (.566) and ground balls (28) and is third on the squad in goals (7).

After scoring the first goal in program history and notching three points in the first two games, midfielder Nick Wendel suffered an injury and did not tally a point in the next four games. Wendel has five points in two games in the month of March, including posting his first career hat trick March 4 against Canisius.

Cleveland State had been scheduled to play at nationally ranked Hofstra and Fairfield on back-to-back days this week. However, those contests were cancelled due to weather in the northeast U.S. With the Vikings looking at going two weeks without playing, head coach Dylan Sheridan quickly added a contest at Wittenberg.

Tristen Copeland showcased his offensive potential during the Sixth City Showdown. He scored four goals in each game and is tied for the team lead in goals (10). He is second on CSU in points (13) and third in GB (12).

Through the first eight games, the Vikings have accrued 19 minutes in penalties, over seven minutes fewer than their opponents. Cleveland State has had fewer penalty minutes than its opponent in six games thus far.

Seven different Vikings found the back of the net in the season opener against Michigan. None of the 13 Division I startups within the past decade had more than seven distinct goal-scorers in its inaugural game. Richmond was the only one to match CSU's total.

While it is expected that a first-year program would have a large group of freshmen, head coach Dylan Sheridan has gone further than recent startup programs. Sheridan has expressed a desire to have his first team mainly consist of freshmen that were all going through the same new experiences at the same time. Thirty four of the 37 Vikings on the roster are true freshmen. Of the more than a dozen programs to begin Division I men's lacrosse within the past decade, Cleveland State has the highest percentage of freshmen on its roster at 91.9%. On the other side of the coin, half of the recent startups had fewer than 70% of their inaugural roster composed of freshmen.

Cleveland State's inaugural season is not the only new lacrosse development in Ohio this spring. For the first time, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the primary governing body for interscholastic athletics in Ohio, is sponsoring boys and girls lacrosse. The Board of Directors of the OHSAA voted unanimously to add lacrosse in the summer of 2015. It is the first time the organization has added sports since 2006-07. The season begins March 17, and four state title games, two per gender, will take place June 3.

With his program in its inaugural season, head coach Dylan Sheridan has elected to rotate the team captain duties on a game-by-game basis.

Although Cleveland State did not play any official games this past fall, the program still put up some impressive numbers. The Vikings posted a 3.19 grade point average in their inaugural semester as a program. Freshman Logan Bradford, a civil engineering major, posted the first 4.0 semester average in team history.

The first regular-season game for Cleveland State University also represented the collegiate head coaching debut of Dylan Sheridan. However, this was not the first time Sheridan has served as a head coach on a big stage. The Ohio native was the head coach for Thailand during the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships. Despite the Asian nation participating in the World Championships for the first time, Sheridan led his squad to four wins in the event, tied for the second-highest figure among the nine nations competing for the first time.

One of the first things that head coach Dylan Sheridan did when the team arrived on campus in the fall was to get the players involved in the community. The Vikings spent multiple days in the fall working with the Habitat for Humanity Organization. The team also helped at a St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer and gave a clinic to Ohio City Lacrosse immediately after its fall exhibition.

Head coach Dylan Sheridan did not shy away from anyone in putting together his inaugural schedule. Cleveland State was scheduled to face seven teams that were ranked in the preseason USILA poll in its 15 regular-season games. All seven of those games were to occur away from home. No startup program within the past decade has played more than five top-20 teams in its inaugural season, based on the final RPI rankings. CSU will face three programs that have won a national title in the past six years. The Vikings had a five-game road trip scheduled to begin in March in which every team they were to face earned preseason votes nationally.

Cleveland State has scored 40 of its 58 goals in the first half of its games. The Vikings had scored more goals in the first half, as opposed to the second half, in six straight games until that streak ended at Ohio State.

The University announced that lacrosse would be added to the intercollegiate athletics program March 30, 2015. It was 677 days from that announcement to the program's first regular-season game.

Playing fewer than 60 miles from where he went to high school, Caleb Espinoza had a performance to remember in Cleveland State's contest at No. 1 Denver, as the rookie made 19 saves. Only two DI goaltenders have made more than 19 saves in a game this season.

While the NCAA men's lacrosse ranks have grown rapidly in recent years, Cleveland State is the only addition to the club this season. The Vikings are the 71st institution currently sponsoring men's lacrosse at the Division I level. In three of the past four years, more than one program was playing its inaugural DI season.

The 10 players in the starting lineup for Cleveland State's first two games of the season went to high school in eight states, ranging from upstate New York to Las Vegas to North Carolina to the Seattle area.

With the addition of Cleveland State, the number of Division I men's lacrosse teams in Ohio doubled from one to two with the Vikings joining Ohio State. Cleveland State faced off with the Buckeyes in the inaugural Battle of Ohio March 11.