Cleveland State to Tangle with Canisius Saturday

Cleveland State to Tangle with Canisius Saturday

Canisius (1-2) at Cleveland State (2-4)
Saturday, March 4 | 1:00 p.m.
Cleveland, Ohio | Krenzler Dome
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The Cleveland State University men's lacrosse team returns home from its farthest road trip of the season. After playing two games on each of the past two weekends, the Vikings host Canisius Saturday, March 4. This will be the Vikings' final game this season played inside Krenzler Dome. 

Canisius joined Cleveland State in competing at the Faceoff Classic last weekend and dropped contests to both Air Force and No. 1 Denver. The Golden Griffins had began their season with a 13-8 triumph over Dartmouth. Connor Kearnan tallied nine points (4g, 5a) in that season-opening win. Midfielder Jeff Edwards was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Preseason Co-Player of the Year before the season. Edwards averaged 3.33 points/game last year, the fourth-highest figure by a midfielder. 

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. The rookie made 19 saves, including two when his team was playing a man down. Only one DI goaltender has made more than 19 saves in a game this season. 

Jake Lewis has served as the Vikings' most consistent offensive weapon in the early going. He is the only Viking to score in five of the team's first six games. Lewis is also the only Viking to contribute multiple points in five or more contests. He set season bests in goals (3) and points (4) in the Feb. 19 win over John Carroll. 

Cleveland State has seen a marked progression on extra-man opportunities in the early portion of the season. After starting 1-for-13 with an advantage, the Vikings have converted five of their last nine chances with an extra man. 

Cleveland State registered its first victory in program history Feb. 18 with a 9-2 triumph over Baldwin Wallace. The Vikings scored five goals in the opening 12 minutes and used a stout defensive effort to cruise to the win. Tristen Copeland posted the program's first hat trick with four goals while the Vikings held the Yellow Jackets to an 8-for-17 mark on clears.

Tristen Copeland showcased his offensive potential during the Sixth City Showdown. He scored four goals in each game and tops the team in goals (10) and points (13). Copeland is also third on the squad in GB (11). 

Through the first six games, the Vikings have accrued 11 minutes of penalties, a full nine minutes fewer than their opponents. Cleveland State has had fewer penalty minutes than its opponent in every game thus far. 

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. 

Cleveland State has scored 35 of its 47 goals in the first half of its games. The Vikings have scored more goals in the first half, as opposed to the second half, in each of their past five games. 

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. 

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's next game will see it face off with the Buckeyes in a Battle of Ohio March 11. 

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. 

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. 

With CSU playing both last Saturday and Sunday, it was the second of three times this season that the Vikings play two games in under 24 hours. All other Division I startups within the past decade played back-to-back days a combined two times in their inaugural seasons.

While it is expected that a first-year program would have a large group of freshmen, head coach Dylan Sheridan has gone further than recent startup programs. Sheridan has expressed a desire to have his first team mainly consist of freshmen that were all going through the same new experiences at the same time. Thirty four of the 37 Vikings on the roster are true freshmen. Of the more than a dozen programs to begin Division I men's lacrosse within the past decade, Cleveland State has the highest percentage of freshmen on its roster at 91.9%. On the other side of the coin, half of the recent startups had fewer than 70% of their inaugural roster composed of freshmen. 

Cleveland State's inaugural season is not the only new lacrosse development in Ohio this spring. For the first time, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, the primary governing body for interscholastic athletics in Ohio, is sponsoring boys and girls lacrosse. The Board of Directors of the OHSAA voted unanimously to add lacrosse in the summer of 2015. It is the first time the organization has added sports since 2006-07. The season begins March 17, and four state title games, two per gender, will take place June 3. 

With his program in its inaugural season, head coach Dylan Sheridan has elected to rotate the team captain duties on a game-by-game basis. 

Although Cleveland State did not play any official games this past fall, the program still put up some impressive numbers. The Vikings posted a 3.19 grade point average in their inaugural semester as a program. Freshman Logan Bradford, a civil engineering major, posted the first 4.0 semester average in team history. 

The first regular-season game for Cleveland State University also represented the collegiate head coaching debut of Dylan Sheridan. However, this was not the first time Sheridan has served as a head coach on a big stage. The Ohio native was the head coach for Thailand during the 2014 World Lacrosse Championships. Despite the Asian nation participating in the World Championships for the first time, Sheridan led his squad to four wins in the event, tied for the second-highest figure among the nine nations competing for the first time. 

One of the first things that head coach Dylan Sheridan did when the team arrived on campus in the fall was to get the players involved in the community. The Vikings spent multiple days in the fall working with the Habitat for Humanity Organization. The team also helped at a St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer and gave a clinic to Ohio City Lacrosse immediately after its fall exhibition. 

Head coach Dylan Sheridan did not shy away from anyone in putting together his inaugural schedule. Cleveland State was scheduled to face seven teams that were ranked in the preseason USILA poll in its 15 regular-season games. All seven of those games will occur away from home. No startup program within the past decade has played more than five top-20 teams in its inaugural season, based on the final RPI rankings. CSU will face three programs that have won a national title in the past six years. The Vikings have a five-game road trip that begins in March in which every team they face received preseason votes nationally.