OFF AND RUNNING
The Cleveland State University lacrosse team will play a Northeast Conference foe for the second straight week as it plays its home finale. CSU also played its penultimate game against SHU in 2017.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Sacred Heart won four of its first five, including victories over Stony Brook and Providence. After losing its next four, two to nationally ranked squads, SHU has won two of its last three. Max Tuttle (40g, 16a) and Joe Saggese (35g, 18a) form a lethal offensive duo, with both ranking among the top five nationally in goals per game. Sacred Heart can cause problems on the other end, as evidenced by the squad ranking fourth in caused turnovers per game.
FANTASTIC ON FACEOFFS
Cleveland State won 23-of-29 faceoffs in its last home game, with its .792 winning percentage representing the best mark for the program to date. Danny Tesler was nearly perfect at 12-of-13 as the Vikings won 16 of the opening 17 faceoffs in the game. Last time out at nationally ranked Robert Morris, Tesler won 16-of-21 faceoffs. His 16 wins were a career high, and a new program best against a DI foe, while his 11 ground balls were a season best.
Michael Wilson has posted a point in each of the first 12 games, scoring in 10 of them. Wilson has five multi-goal outings in the past nine games, including against nationally ranked Denver and Duke. He is shooting 50% in 2018, among the top 15 marks in DI and the second highest mark by a freshman.
In its win at Air Force Feb. 23, Cleveland State was credited with a perfect 24-for-24 mark on clears. It marked the first time in the young program history that the Vikings did not have a failed clear in a game. The Vikings also pulled off the feat in their April 7 win and again at Robert Morris last time out. CSU is a combined 40-for-40 on the clear in its last two games.
In the past four games, the Vikings have seen three nationally ranked opponents. All three are among the top 15 in the team rankings produced by Analytics Lacrosse. Furthermore, in playing both Duke and Robert Morris, Cleveland State played the top two teams in adjusted defense in that four-game span.
As the lone senior on this year's team, Parese Williams is set to graduate from Cleveland State this spring. However, that won't be his first graduation of this academic year. This past December Williams graduated from the FBI Student Academy at CSU, only the second such program established nationally. Williams, a criminology major, is also currently a member of the CSU Police Auxiliary Officer Program, helping the CSU Police force in various capacities around campus.
LAST WE MET
Cleveland State and Sacred Heart also played in CSU's penultimate game last season, albeit in Connecticut. The Pioneers used a big second quarter to claim an 18-9 win. Stephen Masi scored four goals while Jack Frickleton had two. Danny Tesler won 13 faceoffs and had eight GB's while Caleb Espinoza made 18 saves.
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 20 shots that have hit iron compared to 12 by their opponents.
DEFENSE TO OFFENSE
After not having a point in 2017, defender/LSM Zach Whitenack has showcased his offensive abilities this season. He scored his fifth goal of the season last week at Robert Morris, a total which has come on 11 shots. He has scored three goals off of faceoff wins and two came immediately following successful CSU clears.
EIGHT IS GREAT
With the Vikings holding a 6-3 lead near the middle of the second quarter in the last home 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.
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 20 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 has not always been a successful formula for CSU in the 2018 season. The Vikings are now 2-4 when outshooting their foes in 2018. CSU had edges in faceoffs in three of those four losses and had fewer turnovers and penalties in two of the four. In the Vikings' eight games that were not against teams in the current national rankings, CSU has a cumulative 300-273 lead in shots.