OFF AND RUNNING
The Cleveland State University lacrosse team will close its inaugural season by hosting Detroit Mercy in a Saturday night showdown. The Vikings have picked up four wins in their first season and will look to conclude 2017 on a winning note against the Titans.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Detroit Mercy closes out its regular season Saturday with its postseason future dependent on other MAAC games taking place this weekend. With a win, the Titans would tie for the second-highest win total in program history. Jason Weber has played every minute between the pipes and owns a school-record 665 saves, the highest active mark in DI. Matthew Vangalen leads the squad with 44 points, five away from the single-season school record.
MORE FROM MASI
Stephen Masi had a breakout offensive game last time out at Sacred Heart. He scored a season high four goals and is now riding a five-game point streak. Masi's four tallies are the most by any Viking against a Division I team this year. His four goals came on six shots, which also was his season best for shooting percentage.
Caleb Espinoza has been racking up saves in Cleveland State's recent games. He has notched at least 16 stops in three of the past four games and four times overall in 2017. He has hit double figures in saves in nine consecutive contests. Espinoza is among the top 10 in DI in total saves (163) and is second among all rookies in that category. Espinoza would lead DI in saves per game (13.67) if the NCAA only counted CSU's games against DI opponents.
CAN YOU ASSIST ME?
Tristen Copeland's knack of offensive outbursts hit a high point in CSU's last win. The attackman posted seven points, including five assists, both marks which are season highs by any Viking. It was the second time in four games that Copeland had at least four assists in a game. He now leads the team in assists (14).
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 fourth toughest so far with its opponents a combined 73-38. Meanwhile, using analytic-based statistics, Patrick McEwen of Inside Lacrosse also has CSU with the fourth-hardest schedule.
When it played at Virginia to open April, Cleveland State was facing one of the top offenses in Division I. That was nothing new for the Vikings. Cleveland State has faced six top-20 offenses in terms of goals per game. On a per-possession basis, the Vikings have faced four of the top 12 offenses nationally. Eight of the nine DI teams the Vikings have faced this season are above average nationally in both goals per game and adjusted offense.
#1 x 2
When Cleveland State faced off at Penn State to close the month of March, 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.
The Vikings have killed off 21 of the past 32 EMO chances for their opponent over the past 10 games. Cleveland State had killed off nine consecutive EMO chances for its opponent at one point, a stretch that ended in the fourth quarter at Penn State.
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, tied for second among Division I freshmen. He also has three assists during EMO chances this year.
MAN DOWN DOWN
On four occasions in the past six games, Cleveland State has been faced with the unenviable task of playing down two men due to concurrent penalties. However, three of the four times the Vikings were able to successfully kill off the 4-on-6 without allowing a goal.
COMPOSED IN CLEVELAND
Through the first 13 games, the Vikings have accrued 35:30 in penalties, 11 minutes fewer than their opponents. Cleveland State has had fewer penalty minutes than its opponent in nine games thus far.
FLIPPING THE SCRIPT
Through seven games, Cleveland State scored 39 of 54 goals in the first half. However, the Vikings have flipped that narrative on its head over the second half of the season, as CSU has scored 35 of 59 goals in the second half over the past six games.
FROM HERE AND EVERYWHERE
The 10 players in the starting lineup for Cleveland State's first two games went to high school in eight states, ranging from upstate New York to Las Vegas to North Carolina to the Seattle area. The Vikings have started players from eight different states in five games overall.
ANY GIVEN SATURDAY
With Cleveland State in the midst of the closing stretch, four Vikings have started every game thus far. Tristen Copeland has started every game on attack while 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.
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 is now riding a seven-game point streak dating to the beginning of March in which he has posted 10 goals and 14 points overall.
HOLDING ON TO IT
Cleveland State only had nine turnovers in its last home game, a new season low. That mark surpassed the previous low of 12 that CSU had set at Penn State.
After missing the better part of three games with an injury, midfielder Danny Tesler has returned to lead the Vikings in faceoff wins (76) and ground balls (57). He has scored nine goals and added three assists on the year. Tesler has points in nine of the 11 games he's played and is among the top 30 nationally in ground balls per game.
One aspect of the game that has seen a significant improvement for Cleveland State is its ability to clear. In their first seven games, the Vikings cleared 91-of-121 chances (.752). In its past six games, Cleveland State has cleared 94-of-108 opportunities (.870). The Vikings set a new season best in their last home game by going 17-for-18 on the clear.
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 four DI goaltenders have made more than 19 saves in a game this season.
ONE AND DONE
The Cleveland State defense got off to a strong start in last week's game at Sacred Heart. The Vikings held the Pioneers to one goal on 10 first-quarter possessions, including killing off a man-up chance for SHU.
EIGHT STRAIGHT BY EIGHT
In its last home game, Cleveland State scored eight consecutive goals spanning halftime in 18:11. It was the longest run of consecutive goals by the Vikings this season. Eight different Vikings had at least one point in the run, with Tristen Copeland posting four assists.
LONG POLE OFFENSE
When Isaac Atencio scored his first collegiate goal last weekend, he became the fifth Viking long-pole player to net a point this season. Bobby Kidd III and Brandon Ruditz both have two points while Skylar Jimenez and Gage Johnson own assists as well.
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 17 of their last 41 chances with an extra man.
NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN
After going scoreless with one point over the first eight games, Chase Baker started to find his offensive rhythm in mid-March. Baker excelled in the last home game by scoring five goals, a season high for any Viking. He has scored in four of the past five games. Baker scored twice at Penn State in his first start March 25.
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 a game, head coach Dylan Sheridan added a contest at Wittenberg.
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.
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.
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.