The Post-Week Tailgate: February 5, 2023


Ohio State played its first official game at the $24 million Ohio State Lacrosse Stadium on Saturday, beating Air Force 15-7.

If you’ve ever scored a goal in a lacrosse game, you’ve scored more goals than I have. But I’ve followed this sport for a long time. The first game I saw captured my imagination — 1987 as Delaware hosted the previous year’s national runner-up, Virginia. The Blue Hens pulled off an upset before an electric crowd as cars buzzed by the old field next to Route 896. I was hooked.

Fast forward a few years and I became the sports information director at Washington and Lee University. Lacrosse holds a special place in the heart of the W&L community, and it was a thrill to work with those teams and meet so many people that remain connected to the sport at high levels. That job led to me joining USA Lacrosse at the end of 2000. For the last 22 years, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to meet many of the sport legends and write about this great game.

For this new weekly column published on Sunday nights, I’ll share my thoughts on the previous week's men's lacrosse games (we've got a similar women's column starting next week) — hopefully in a manner that will make you laugh (at least occasionally), tell you some things you don’t already know and maybe even make you think about things a little differently.

Thanks for reading.

Random Observations

It was really cool to see a lacrosse head in the background of Roddy Jones’ home studio set when the ACC revealed its football schedule last week. ESPN’s Anish Shroff helped turned his colleague, a former Georgia Tech football player turned television analyst, on to lacrosse a few years back.

I remember how excited Mike Pressler was when Duke’s lacrosse program was getting a new building. But it those days, a "new" building for lacrosse meant the football program was getting a brand-new facility and lacrosse programs got to move into the old football building. Those days are gone in lacrosse.

Ohio State is the latest school to open a new facility to wow the lacrosse world. The Buckeyes played their first official game at the $24 million Ohio State Lacrosse Stadium on Saturday, beating Air Force 15-7 behind four goals and five assists from Jack Myers. Even cooler is that former Ohio State lacrosse players Regina Doty and Andrew Elmer were involved in the construction project.

Speaking of stadiums, it’s still weird to see the Dome in Syracuse with the letters JMA in front instead of the familiar Carrier tag. But what everyone really wanted to see was the debut of highly-touted freshman Joey Spallina. Spallina didn’t have the greatest shooting day, but scored the game-tying goal late in the third quarter and the Orange pulled out a 7-5 victory over Vermont. Another freshman, Finn Thompson, had a goal and two assists, including this BTB pass.

It had to be really weird for Mercer’s Ryan Danehy to make his debut as the Bears’ head coach by playing against Bucknell – the school where he coached the last four years and helped recruit the very players he competed against. Bucknell won the game, 20-6, but Danehy is one of the hardest-working guys in the sport. He’s coached at the college, pro and international levels and was even the videographer for the gold-medal winning U.S. women’s team last summer. I’m excited to see what he gets done in Georgia.

I’m not a big fan of gambling as it relates to lacrosse, but when my 24-year-old son, who does not follow the sport closely, texts me about college lacrosse being on DraftKings, then you know at the very least it’s an avenue to generating more awareness of the sport. Fortunately, he didn't make any bets because if he took my advice, let's just say that DraftKings would be richer.

By the Numbers

14 • Number of Division I games to kick off the season that were originally scheduled on Saturday before weather tweaked the schedule. Twelve of those 14 games had scheduled start times between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Television doesn’t cure all ills, but sports that are controlled by television — basketball and football — help generate interest in the sport because you can watch games all day long. Lacrosse could use the help of a scheduling czar.

3 • Recent Denver faceoff specialists connected to the U.S. national team program. Senior Alec Stathakis kicked off his fourth season with the Pioneers by winning 13 of 20 faceoffs against Utah in a 12-4 victory on Saturday. Stathakis won a gold medal with the U.S. U21 team last summer in Ireland. The two players who will represent the USA at the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship in San Diego — Trevor Baptiste (2015-18) and TD Ierlan (2021) — also played at Denver.

1 • Number of current collegiate players on the 2023 U.S. men’s national team — Duke’s junior attackman Brennan O’Neill. O’Neill had a team-high seven points on two goals and five assists in the Blue Devils 19-7 win over Bellarmine on Saturday. He has now reached 100 career goals faster than any player in Duke history (35 games) and his five assists were a career high.

2 • Number of teams that made their NCAA Division I debuts this weekend. Lindenwood, which went 12-4 and reached the NCAA tournament in its final season in Division II last year, opened its new era with a 17-2 loss at Marquette on Saturday. Queens went 12-5 in its final Division II season and opened its Division I history with an 19-5 loss to Navy on Sunday.

2 • Number of Matt Traynor’s career-high five goals that were assisted by his older brother, Jack, in Penn State’s 21-11 win over Lafayette.

2018 • The last time Johns Hopkins finished the season with a winning record. That still seems a little hard to wrap my head around, but the Blue Jays started 2023 with a more familiar result for the storied program – going on the road to beat No. 18 Jacksonville 12-7.

2 • Nation-leading number of wins for Navy. The Midshipmen scored six times in the fourth quarter to beat Mount St. Mary’s 13-7 on Saturday, avenging a loss to the Mountaineers from a year ago. Navy followed that up with the 19-5 win over Queens on Sunday.

Most Recent

Vermont Still on Top, UC Santa Cruz Climbs in WCLA Division II Top 20

No. 11 UC Santa Cruz jumped three spots this week and now resides just outside the top 10.

Boston College Club Still No. 1, Clemson Joins Top 10 in WCLA Division I Top 20

Clemson Club made a significant jump to join the top 10 for the first time.

Keiser Remains No. 1 in NAIA Men's Lacrosse Coaches Top 10

Keiser picked up one more first-place vote, giving them all eight this week.

Rhode Island Sweeps First-Place Voting, Remains No. 1 in MCLA Division II Poll

The Rams top the D-II poll for the third consecutive week.

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