Fall Ball Focus: Ohio State Building Off Rebound Season

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER

Bobby Van Buren is a player Ohio State head coach Nick Myers pegs as a breakout candidate in 2023.


Nick Myers and Ohio State men’s lacrosse needed a rebound season last spring after finishing 2021 at 4-7 — one of the lowest marks of Myers’ tenure in Columbus. A core led by Jack Myers, Jackson Reid, Colby Smith and Justin Inacio helped restore the long tradition of Buckeyes lacrosse to the tune of a 10-6 record and an NCAA tournament berth.

The Buckeyes got back to being a threat in the Big Ten that can make waves in the postseason. Entering this fall, Myers and his team are united in the mission of continuing the momentum generated by the spring of 2022 to build a consistent contender at Ohio State.

“[2021] was certainly the most challenging year I’ve ever had,” Myers said. “I give the guys credit for digging in and restoring a lot of the things that we couldn’t do for the past few years. We’ve now created an environment where people want to stay year-round. We started to build our identity in the summer.”

Much of the veteran group that led the Buckeyes to the NCAA tournament returns, including Myers, who dropped 83 points during his senior season, Skylar Wahlund, who stopped over 52 percent of his shots in 10 starts, and Jason Knox, who was selected fifth overall in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft.

However, Myers believes that the new leaders that emerge this fall — mixed with the addition of impact transfer Marcus Hudgins — will play a key role in where this team ultimately finds itself come next May.

LAST SEASON

Ohio State got back to its winning ways, advancing to the NCAA tournament and finishing the season 10-6. The Buckeyes did not lose to a non-NCAA tournament opponent outside of Denver in 2022.

Jack Myers emerged as an offensive weapon, leading an Ohio State offense that broke a school record with 218 goals. Myers’ 83 points stood second in school history behind Terry Gilmore.







BIGGEST FALL QUESTION

Who will be the next dominant Ohio State faceoff man?

Ohio State has not had to worry about faceoff play the past several years, with Jake Withers (2014-17) and Inacio (2018-22) serving as one of the nation’s best during their respective careers in Columbus. With Inacio now playing in the PLL, a void is left behind.

Among the five options on the Ohio State roster, former Hobart star Drew Blanchard may have the best chance. He finished sixth in the country with a 65.5 save percentage during the 2021 season and won 54.5 percent of his 110 faceoffs last season.

MARQUEE ADDITION: MARCUS HUDGINS

Hudgins, the former All-American defenseman at Army, sat out all of the 2022 season due to “personal reasons.” News came out over the offseason that Hudgins would take his talents to Ohio State, where he has a chance to become one of the anchors of the Buckeyes defense.

The 2021 Patriot League Player of the Year tallied 36 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers to lead a stout Army defense.

“There was real alignment in terms of what he was looking for and what we were looking for,” Myers said. “A month in, and he’s been seamless. The guys love him, and he brings a level of competitive excellence to the lacrosse field that brings out the best in others.”

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: BOBBY VAN BUREN

Van Buren started 11 games as a freshman on defense, delivering on the promise of being a top 15 recruit in the 2020 class. Now with a year of college lacrosse under his belt, and a summer working out with teammates, he’s ready to take the next step in his career.

Myers said he expects big things out of the reigning Big Ten Rookie of the Year.

“Bobby wants to take that next step,” Myers said. “I look to both [Ari Allen] and Bobby to have sophomore years that feel different. They just seem to have a different level of confidence and comfort.”

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