Ohio State at Navy: Three things to watch
Arguably the most significant local game of the weekend, a pair of 1-0 teams in No. 15 Ohio State and No. 10 Navy clash at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis tomorrow. I talked with both Midshipmen coach Richie Meade and Buckeyes coach Nick Myers and discerned three factors from my conversation with both men.
1) Faceoffs will be key. Navy won just nine of 21 faceoffs in last Saturday's 13-5 win against VMI. Ohio State was just slightly better with a 12-of-25 success rate in Saturday's 21-1 victory over Detroit Mercy. Meade wasn't quite ready to panic about the play of faceoff specialists Frankie Coppola and Logan West, who combined to go 2-of-11 because Mikelis Visgauss struggled in last season's opener against the Keydets before finishing 13th in the country with a .575 win percentage. But Meade is well aware that success at the "X" could go a long way to getting the Midshipmen the "W." "If you have the ball more than the other team, you’re probably going to win," Meade said. "That comes down to getting groundballs, winning faceoffs, and clearing the ball. That’s kind of the key for us."
2) Navy is eager to test Buckeyes junior goalie Brandon Freeman, who is beginning his first year as a full-time starter in the net. Freeman beat out Syracuse transfer Peter Coluccini, who started for the Orange in 2007. Myers said he has been impressed with Freeman's quick hands and outlet passes. Meade said Freeman might have an advantage. "He’s a little bit of an unknown, but he’s the starting goalie at Ohio State," Meade said. "I’d like nothing better than to score nine goals on him in the first two minutes, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It doesn’t really matter who the goalie is. We’re not going to change what we do. ... Playing against a good goalie, you’ve got to take good shots. That’s our focus."
3) Ohio State wants to prove its mettle. Many preseason prognosticators jumped ship when the Buckeyes graduated a talented senior class that included midfielder Kevin Buchanan and goalie Stefan Schroder, bid farewell to head coach Joe Breschi, who left for North Carolina, and watched midfielder Peet Poillon transfer to UMBC. But if Ohio State is taking heed of those slights, Myers isn't letting on. "I think we’re just concerned with playing Buckeyes lacrosse," he said. " ... We try to preach the things that we feel are important to this team and us getting better every day. I think the rankings and stuff on the Internet, you’ve got to be careful when you listen to that too much. I think you’ve really got to focus on each other and working hard every day to improve."