Photo courtesy of Tony Carter
OFF AND RUNNING
The Cleveland State University lacrosse team hits the road to play its fifth, and final, new opponent of 2018. It will be the third time in four games in which CSU faces a squad in the national rankings.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Robert Morris has surged into the national rankings off an 8-3 mark. After dropping two of its first three, RMU has won seven of eight, including two over ranked foes. Alex Heger (.587save%) backstops one of the best defenses in the nation, ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense, man down defense and caused turnovers. Jimmy Perkins (15g, 21a), Matt Schmidt (25g, 10a) and Tyson Gibson (13g, 16a) lead an offense that is averaging 11.6 goals/game.
Freshman Michael Wilson notched five goals and two assists in last week's win. His five goals and seven points both marked the second such instance by a Viking and the first against a Division I foe. Wilson scored or assisted on each of CSU's first four goals, which all came within the opening eight minutes. He leads the team in goals (18), assists (10) and points (28).
Cleveland State reset program bests in a bevy of categories in last week's win. CSU set new highs in goals (19), assists (12), shots (57), shots on goal (37), ground balls (43) and faceoffs won (23). The Vikings tied their best ever mark in team shooting percentage (.333) against a Division I foe while allowing 24 shots and 14 shots on goal, the lowest figures they've allowed against a DI opponent.
JACK OF ALL (OFFENSIVE) TRADES
After seeing limited action in the previous two games with an injury, sophomore Jack Frickleton responded by breaking out for six points in last weekend's win. He scored a career-high four goals and now has five multi-point outings in his last eight games. He also ranks among the top 50 in DI in assist-to-turnover ratio.
EIGHT IS GREAT
With the Vikings holding a 6-3 lead near the middle of the second quarter in last week's game, CSU ran off an 8-0 run to blow the game wide open. The Vikings scored on 8-of-13 possessions in that run, discounting one ended by the halftime whistle. CSU held the Pirates without a goal on seven possessions in this stretch, causing three turnovers, making two saves and backing up two wide shots.
Michael Wilson has posted a point in each of the first 11 games, scoring in nine of them. Wilson has five multi-goal outings in the past eight games, including against nationally ranked Denver and Duke. He is shooting 48.6% in 2018, among the top 20 marks in DI and the fourth highest mark by a freshman.
QUICK STRIKE VIKES
Danny Tesler's second-quarter goal at Penn State came eight seconds after the previous faceoff. In nine of its past 12 games, CSU has scored within 15 seconds of a faceoff while in 12 of the past 13, the Vikings have scored within 25 seconds of a faceoff. In 19 of the 25 games Cleveland State has ever played, the Vikings have scored within 30 seconds of a faceoff.
TURN THEM OVER
In its Feb. 25 game at Denver, CSU forced nationally ranked DU into 21 turnovers. The 21 turnovers by Denver are its most in a game since March 2012.
Cleveland State hung right with Ohio State and Duke in the opening half of its games against those top-10 foes. At the half, OSU led just, 5-4. The Buckeyes had only a 15-14 advantage in shots, each team had five saves and CSU had three fewer turnovers. Duke owned only a 4-3 edge over CSU at the break with the Vikings having advantages in ground balls and faceoff wins while each team had the same number of failed clears. In the last road game, Penn State only had a 6-4 lead at half, as the Vikings had two more GB's and only one more turnover than the Nittany Lions.
Freshman Michael Harris owns 22 ground balls on the year, the most by a CSU non-faceoff player. He is the only Viking with at least one GB in every game and also tops the squad with nine caused turnovers.
LONG POLE OFFENSE
After not having a point in his first 16 games as a Viking, Parese Williams has found the scoresheet in four of the past seven games. He posted a trio of assists in two games in Colorado and scored goals in wins over Lafayette and Hampton. A Viking long-pole has contributed at least one point in seven of 11 games this season.
HOLDING ON TO IT
Cleveland State has committed more turnovers than its opponent only three times in 11 games this season.
FANTASTIC ON FACEOFFS
Cleveland State won 23-of-29 faceoffs in last week's win, with its .792 winning percentage representing the best mark for the program to date. Danny Tesler was nearly perfect at 12-of-13 while Jack Dively went 8-for-13. Casey Platenik also won all three of his faceoffs. The Vikings won 16 of the opening 17 faceoffs in the game.
TOUGH TESTS FOR DEFENSE
Cleveland State's schedule might keep defensive coordinators up at night. After facing four of the 10 highest scoring offenses last year, CSU is set to face six teams in 2018 that are currently among the top 25 in scoring offense this year. According to Patrick McEwen's per-possession figures on Analytics Lacrosse, the Vikings faced the fifth-toughest set of offensive opponents in the 2017 season.
Outshooting its opposition had not been a successful formula for CSU early on in the 2018 season. The Vikings are now 2-3 when outshooting their foes in 2018. CSU had edges in ground balls and faceoffs in two of those three losses and had fewer turnovers and penalties in two of the three. In the Vikings' seven games that were not against teams in the current national rankings, CSU has a cumulative 269-229 lead in shots.
Danny Tesler led Cleveland State in faceoff wins (90) and ground balls (69) in the program's debut season. He ranked among the top five freshmen in DI in both ground balls/game and faceoff percentage. Tesler also contributed offensively, scoring 10 goals in 12 games. Tesler owns team bests in faceoff wins (95) and ground balls (50) again in 2018. He won a career-high 15 faceoffs March 4 at Canisius while collecting eight ground balls. Tesler is among the top 30 nationally in ground balls per game.
All 15 members of Cleveland State's freshmen class have now made their collegiate debuts.