OFF AND RUNNING
The Cleveland State University lacrosse team concludes its road trip by facing a second straight nationally ranked team. The Vikings travel to Virginia, their second ACC foe of the season, Tuesday for a matchup under the lights.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Virginia has frequently been in close games this season. All four of the Cavaliers' losses have come by a single goal against nationally ranked teams, two of which came in overtime. Three of Virginia's six wins also came by a single goal. The Cavaliers lead the nation in ground balls per game, rank third in scoring offense and fifth in caused turnovers per game. Michael Kraus (25g, 20a) and Zed Williams (19g, 22a) rank among the top 20 nationally in points.
TOUGH TESTS FOR DEFENSE
When it takes the field Tuesday night at Virginia, Cleveland State will be facing one of the top offenses in Division I. That will be nothing new for the Vikings. Cleveland State has faced four top-25 offenses in terms of goals per game. On a per-possession basis, the Vikings have faced three of the top 10 offenses nationally. Every team the Vikings have faced this season is above average nationally in both goals per game and adjusted offense.
OFF THE MARK
When Cleveland State faced off at Penn State in its last game, the Nittany Lions entered as the best DI team in shooting percentage, converting nearly 39% of their attempts. However, the CSU defense held Penn State under 32% for the game, the Lions' second-lowest mark of the season to that point.
Caleb Espinoza has been racking up saves in Cleveland State's recent games. After notching 17 stops last time out at Penn State, he has hit double figures in stops in each of the past six contests. He is among the top 10 in DI in total saves (118) and leads all rookies in that category.
No matter which metric you use, Cleveland State has faced one of the toughest schedules in D1 this season. The NCAA ranks CSU's slate as the second toughest so far with its opponents a combined 46-18. Meanwhile, using analytic-based statistics, Patrick McEwen of Inside Lacrosse has CSU with the fourth-hardest schedule.
ANY GIVEN TUESDAY
With its second month of action complete, five Vikings have started every game thus far. Tristen Copeland has started every game on attack, Quinn Lemke has suited up each contest on defense and Caleb Espinoza has been between the pipes every game. Noah Gleeson and Stephen Masi have started every game either on attack or in the midfield.
#1 x 2
When Cleveland State faced off at Penn State last time out, it marked the second time in a one-month span that the Vikings played the top-ranked team in the USILA poll. The 16 most recent programs making their NCAA lacrosse debut in Division I combined to play the No. 1 ranked team just a single time.
Cleveland State had killed off nine consecutive EMO chances for its opponent until Penn State scored man up in the fourth quarter last time out. The Vikings have killed off 14 of the past 19 EMO chances for their opponent over the past seven games.
THE MAN ON MAN UP
Man-up opportunities are often a great chance to score goals, but Jack Frickleton has been especially dangerous for CSU's man-up unit thus far. He has five man-up tallies, two off the national lead and tied for the most by a freshman in Division I. He also has three assists during EMO chances this year.
MAN DOWN DOWN
In two of its past three games, Cleveland State has been faced with the unenviable task of playing down two men due to concurrent penalties. However, both times the Vikings were able to successfully kill off the 4-on-6 without allowing a goal.
COMPOSED IN CLEVELAND
Through the first 10 games, the Vikings have accrued 24:30 in penalties, nearly 10 minutes fewer than their opponents. Cleveland State has had fewer penalty minutes than its opponent in seven games thus far.
FLIPPING THE SCRPT
Through its first seven games, Cleveland State scored 39 of its 54 goals in the first half. However, the Vikings have flipped that narrative on its head recently, as CSU has scored 19 of 30 goals in the second half over the past three games.
FROM HERE AND EVERYWHERE
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.
NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN
After going scoreless with a single point over the first eight games, Chase Baker has scored three goals, and tallied three ground balls, in the past two games. Baker scored twice at Penn State while earning his first start.
HOLDING ON TO IT
Cleveland State had just 12 turnovers last time out at Penn State, a new season low.
Cleveland State had been scheduled to play at nationally ranked Hofstra and Fairfield on back-to-back days over Spring Break. However, those contests were cancelled due to weather in the northeast U.S. With the Vikings facing the prospect of going two weeks without playing, head coach Dylan Sheridan added a contest at Wittenberg.
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 three DI goaltenders have made more than 19 saves in a game this season.
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 seven of the team's first 10 games. Lewis is also the only Viking to contribute multiple points in eight or more contests. He owns four goals and six assists in the past four games and tops the team in all scoring categories.
Midfielder Danny Tesler has picked up where he left off upon returning from injury March 11 at Ohio State. Tesler has won 54% of his faceoffs this year and leads the team with 40 ground balls. He has scored eight goals while shooting at nearly a 35% clip. Tesler has points in seven of the past eight games he's played and is among the top 35 nationally in ground balls per game.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH WENDEL
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 had 10 points in four games in the month of March, including the first two hat tricks of his career.
ON THE OFFENSIVE
Tristen Copeland already had a pair of four-goal games to his credit, but he produced a four-assist performance March 16. He became the first Viking with four helpers in a game and the second with a five-point contest.
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT
Cleveland State has seen a marked progression on extra-man opportunities as the season has gone on. After starting 1-for-13 with an advantage, the Vikings have converted 12 of their last 28 chances with an extra man.
THREE TIMES THREE IN THIRD
In its win over Wittenberg March 16, Cleveland State scored half of its goals, nine of the 18, in the third quarter. The Viking scored five goals in the final 5:07 of the frame to tally a season best for goals in a quarter. The nine goals were scored by eight different Vikings.
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.
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.
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.
ONE AND ONLY
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.