2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 11 Ohio State (Men)

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Bobby Van Buren is one of several quality defensemen on the Ohio State roster.


The 2023 college lacrosse season is almost here. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

NO. 11 OHIO STATE

2022 Record: 10-6 (3-2 Big Ten)
Final Ranking (2022): No. 11
Coach: Nick Myers

TOP RETURNERS

Jack Myers, A, Sr.

A staple for the Buckeye offense, Myers led the team in assists in 2019, 2020 and 2022 and was their top goal scorer in 2021. The second-team All-American keys an offense that has added several new pieces. “He’s one that makes his teammates better,” said head coach Nick Myers (no relation to Jack). “He’s a guy that really has developed different aspects of his game.”

Bobby Van Buren, D, So.

Van Buren earned a starting spot at close defense as a freshman last year, and the Buckeyes trusted him most games to guard the top attacker. He finished tied for second on the team in caused turnovers with 11 and figures to be even better in his encore season after spending the summer training in Columbus.

Jacob Snyder, D, Sr.

Snyder played for the U.S. in the U21 World Championship in Ireland in August. He has started every game of his Ohio State career and leads the defense with vocal leadership and experience. “He’s a glue guy,” Myers said. “He’s a guy that sometimes gets overshadowed by some other guys defensively, but he’s Steady Eddie back there.”

KEY ADDITIONS

Marcus Hudgins, D, Sr. (Army)

What Army described as “personal issues” kept Hudgins off the field in 2022, a season after he was named the Patriot League’s defensive player of the year. Hudgins has been recharged at Ohio State and has been a good fit on the field and in the locker room, says Myers. “He’s an energy guy,” Myers said. “He plays with an edge. He gets out and wants to put the ball on the ground. He wants to be physical.”

Richie LaCalandra, A, Sr. (LIU)

The two-time NEC offensive player of the year fills a need with the loss of Jackson Reid. LaCalandra had 32 goals and 38 assists in his last year at LIU, but the Buckeyes won’t use him the exact same way. After an injury kept LaCalandra out of fall scrimmages, he is expected to start on attack, though he could also play middie. “I think his best lacrosse is in front of him,” Myers said.

Kyle Borda, M, Grad. (Fairfield)

Jack Myers vouched for his Gonzaga High teammate when Borda entered the transfer portal. Borda had 16 goals and a team-high 21 assists last year at Fairfield and will be asked to dodge in the midfield and contribute on offense. “He’s someone that as the season goes on and on can get better and better at what we ask of him,” Myers said.

KEY DEPARTURES

Graduations: Tyler Gallagher, D; Justin Inacio, M; Jackson Reid, M; Johnny Wiseman, M







STORYLINES TO WATCH

How does Ohio State replace Inacio at faceoff X?

Ohio State has had it good at the faceoff X over the last nine years. The Buckeyes went from Jake Withers, who set school faceoff and ground ball records, to Inacio, who broke Withers’ marks in both. Inacio’s graduation creates a concern. “That’s certainly an area we have a little chip on our shoulder to prove,” Myers said. “It’s fair to say that’s an unproven area.”

Drew Blanchard was a graduate transfer from Hobart last year. He returns for his final year of eligibility after taking 110 faceoffs last year and winning 54.5 percent of them. He won 12 against Rutgers and 10 against Maryland.

“He did have some big games, some big moments,” Myers said. “We knew we were getting two years out of him, so this is a year he’s really been waiting for.”

Ohio State also has Matthew Fritz, who had a big day against Princeton in a fall scrimmage, and James Hogan competing for time. The Buckeyes are banking on their wings to help take some pressure off. Trent DiCicco is back after corralling 46 ground balls, along with returners Connor Cmiel, Greg Langermeier, Steven Zupicich and freshman Blake Eiland.

Could the Buckeyes have an elite defense?

Van Buren, a USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason All-American honorable mention, is a future star (if he isn’t one already). Paired with Snyder, Van Buren and the Buckeyes have a stout starting point. If Hudgins can regain even a portion of his old form, Myers’ defense could cause fits.

Hudgins is the wild card, but a good one to have — especially with two years of eligibility remaining. He spent most of his time in West Point locking down the opponents’ top scorer. If he brings that same caliber of defense to Columbus, Ohio State will have plenty of options to defend the Big Ten’s best weapons.

The linchpin, though, may be the goalie behind the three close defenders. Goalie play wasn’t as strong as OSU would have liked in the fall, and the coaches have been challenging that area since the team returned to campus. Skylar Wahlund started the final nine games last season after Caton Johnson started the first seven games. Both are back for a defense that will be face a strong schedule.

“We like the pieces, but it’s about building chemistry now and putting it on tape,” Myers said.

Is the offense better, even though it graduated Jackson Reid?

Reid led the Buckeyes with 47 goals and was second on the team in points before graduating to the PLL, but a trio of transfers, reliable returning veterans and the emergence of a couple younger players could be enough to offset his loss. Ohio State has all but Reid back from its top five scorers a year ago, plus another four players who had at least 10 points. Ohio State hopes it has enough firepower to take attention off leading man Jack Myers.

“His success is going to be a product of those guys taking pressure off him and allowing him to not get double teams and shut offs and all those other things,” Nick Myers said. “I do feel guys are really confident, and Jack has a lot of confidence in his teammates.”

The Buckeyes are trying to get more dodgers on the field to help Myers, and Borda, LaCalandra and Kyle Lewis (Lynchburg) will be a big additions. Colby Smith (41 goals) returns from a breakout season, and Scott White is back for a fifth year. Add in second-year players Ari Allen and Ed Shean, and the Buckeyes feel good about sharing the load.

ENEMY LINES
WHAT RIVALS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE BUCKEYES

“If there was a national championship of social media, they’d come in second to Harvard.”

“I think they should be very good. I thought they did an awesome job in the transfer portal and have a lot of guys back. On paper, it would be hard not to give them strong consideration to be the preseason favorites in the Big Ten.”

BEYOND THE BASICS
POWERED BY LACROSSE REFERENCE

62.1%

Of the topline numbers, you might think that the Buckeyes’ seventh-rated opponent-adjusted offensive unit would be their crown jewel. You’d be wrong. Their faceoff unit finished the year sixth nationally, and fourth after you account for the quality of the opposing FOGOs (62.1% adjusted win rate). But if Ohio State is going to make another run to the NCAA tournament, it’ll have to hope that Drew Blanchard can replicate the success that the now-graduated Justin Inacio put together during his time in Columbus. The good news is that the drop-off from Inacio to Blanchard may not be that steep. Inacio finished 2022 as the 19th-rated FOGO, according to the Faceoff Elo ratings; Blanchard was 34th.

Lacrosse Reference Glossary

Suggested

Most Recent

2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 6 Syracuse (Women)

Health and goalie play seem to be the only things standing in Syracuse's way.

2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 6 Notre Dame (Men)

Snubbed by the NCAA Selection Committee, there's plenty of fuel for Notre Dame's fire.

Time Away Couldn't Stop Record-Setting Jane Earley

Earley registered a school-record 80 goals after essentially missing two years.

2023 NCAA Lacrosse Rankings: No. 7 Rutgers (Women)

Coming off a history-making season, Rutgers is catching nobody by surprise in 2023.







Twitter Posts