OFF AND RUNNING
The Cleveland State University lacrosse team closes a four-game road trip by venturing up I-90. The Vikings will tangle with Canisius one day after initially scheduled due to recent weather in the area.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Canisius enters off back-to-back wins, at Binghamton and against Furman in a neutral-site contest. The Griffins lost their opener at Dartmouth by a single goal, and all three Canisius games this season have been decided by a total of four goals. First-year head coach Mark Miyashita has the luxury of returning the 2017 MAAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year Connor Kearnan, who posted 2.33 goals/game and 3.93 points/game last season. Defender Logan Monroe returns after earning All-MAAC First Team honors in 2017.
TAKING DOWN THE (SoCon) CHAMPS
Cleveland State started its trip to Colorado with an 8-7 win over Air Force. The Falcons are defending Southern Conference champions and were picked to repeat in the conference's 2018 preseason poll. The Vikings built a 5-1 lead at the half and led, 8-2, after three quarters. Tristen Copeland and Nick Wendel both scored twice.
QUICK STRIKE VIKES
Cleveland State's last goal at Denver came just 15 seconds after a faceoff. It marked the sixth time in seven games in which CSU scored within 15 seconds of a faceoff and the eighth straight in which it scored within 25 seconds of a faceoff. Cleveland State has scored at least one goal within one minute of a faceoff in each of its 20 games thus far (15 times CSU has scored within 30 seconds).
Freshman Michael Wilson has made an impression in CSU's opening games. He scored two unassisted goals on two shots in his debut against Ohio State. He added an unassisted tally, his first assist and six ground balls vs. Mercer and scored two goals at Bellarmine and at Denver. He has scored in five of six games thus far and has points in all half dozen. He leads the team in goals (8) and points (10) and is shooting 40% on the season.
NATE THE GREAT
Defensive midfielder Nate Menendez entered last Sunday's game at Denver with three career goals, but he doubled that total against the Pioneers. His three goals on three shots made him the first Viking to have a hat trick against a nationally ranked opponent.
FORCING FAILED CLEARS
In its game at Denver last time out, the Vikings held the Pioneers to a 14-for-20 mark on clearing attempts. Denver's 70% clearing mark is its lowest in its past 31 games overall and its lowest in a home contest since 2009.
GOALIE'S BEST FRIEND
Cleveland State had an astounding seven shots hit off the post or crossbar in its overtime loss to Mercer. Those seven shots were taken by seven players. On the season, the Vikings have taken 12 shots that have hit iron compared to just three by their opponents.
In its last two games before traveling to Colorado, Cleveland State led its opponent in shots and shots on goals. CSU outshot Mercer, 48-34, in its last home game. That was part of a larger trend that saw CSU have statistical advantages in GB's, faceoffs and CT's. The Vikings' 48 shots are their highest figure thus far against a DI opponent.
DEFENSE TO OFFENSE
After primarily serving as a defender last season, Zach Whitenack is playing as a LSM this season. Whitenack showcased his offensive abilities in CSU's opening two games, scoring four goals on five shots. Whitenack did not have a point in 2017. He scored two goals off of faceoff wins and two came immediately following successful CSU clears.
COMPOSED IN CLEVELAND
Over the first 20 games it has played, Cleveland State has accrued 17.5 fewer minutes in penalty time than its opponents. The Vikings have fewer penalty minutes than their opponent in 14 of 20 games played.
ONE AND DONE
In two of its past four games, the Cleveland State defense has stonewalled an opponent for an entire half. In the second half against Mercer and the first half at Air Force, the Vikings only allowed one goal. The Bears scored on just one of 16 second-half possessions. Cleveland State forced Mercer into 10 turnovers, six of which were directly caused by CSU while another was a shot clock violation. The Vikings made two saves, backed up two shots that went out of bounds and collected a ground ball after blocking a shot. On Air Force's 14 first-half possessions, CSU forced the Falcons into eight turnovers, made three saves and collected possession after two wide shots.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH WENDEL
After notching three points in the first two games of 2017, Nick Wendel suffered an injury and did not tally a point in the next four. Wendel ended last season on an eight-game point streak, the longest by a Viking in 2017. He had 13 goals in that span, including hat tricks against Canisius and Detroit Mercy. He has points in 12 of his last 14 games entering this weekend.
LAST WE MET
Cleveland State hosted Canisius one year ago to the day and ran out to a 3-0 lead but ended up dropping a 17-7 decision. Nick Wendel posted his first collegiate hat trick and added an assist, Caleb Espinoza made 13 saves in the cage and Nate Menendez opened his collegiate account with his first goal.
SPREAD THE WEALTH
In its Feb. 17 game at Bellarmine, Cleveland State's offense came from a variety of sources. Eight Vikings scored while 12 had at least one point. The eight different goal scorers tied CSU's high against a DI foe while the 12 players with a point were a new program record.
LAST LINE OF DEFENSE
Caleb Espinoza racked up plenty of saves in his rookie season and was named All-Freshman Honorable Mention by College Crosse. He contributed 176 saves, second among DI freshmen and was third among DI rookies in save percentage. On a per-game basis, Espinoza shined even more. He posted 13.6 saves/game against DI foes, a mark that led the nation among all goalies. He contributed nine in the opener against Ohio State but has since missed time due to injury.