Mercer (0-2) at Cleveland State (0-2)
Tuesday, Feb. 13 | 7:00 p.m.
Cleveland, Ohio | Krenzler Field
OFF AND RUNNING
After facing Big Ten foes in each of its first two games, the Cleveland State University lacrosse team returns home for its first weekday action of 2018 by welcoming Mercer. The Bears, in their eighth year of existence, and CSU will be playing for the first time.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Mercer took a 6-3 lead last time out vs. Lehigh but was unable to hang on as it lost its second straight to begin 2018. The Bears went 5-8 in 2017 and are under the guidance of sixth year coach Kyle Hannan. Matt Quinn is the top returning point scorer for the Bears, posting 24 (12g, 12a) last season. Kiel Brennan returns after winning 56% of his faceoffs last season (94-of-168). Bradley Hodoval returns in the cage after starting 11 games in 2017.
DEFENSE TO OFFENSE
After primarily serving as a defender last season, Zach Whitenack is serving as a long-stick midfielder this season. Whitenack has showcased his offensive abilities in CSU's opening two games, scoring four goals on five shots. Whitenack did not have a point in 2017. Whitenack has scored two goals off of faceoff wins and two came immediately following successful Cleveland State clears.
Freshman Michael Wilson has made an impression in CSU's opening games. He scored two unassisted goals on two shots in his debut against Ohio State. Wilson scored again last weekend at Michigan while adding a ground ball and a caused turnover. Wilson is not the first athlete in his family as his mother played softball for Army.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH WENDEL
After notching three points in the first two games of 2017, Nick Wendel suffered an injury and did not tally a point in the next four games. Wendel ended last season on an eight-game point streak, the longest by a Viking in 2017. He had 13 goals in that span, including hat tricks against Canisius and Detroit Mercy. He had pushed his point streak to nine before it was broken last weekend.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS x 2
Freshman Jake Higgins opened his collegiate account last time out at Michigan, tallying a goal and an assist. Higgins also owns three ground balls on the season. His brother, Ben, is a midfielder at Division II Limestone and owns 100+ career points.
NOT THAT DIFFERENT
Despite its loss at Michigan last time out, Cleveland State posted similar numbers to the Wolverines in a number of statistical categories. Each team won 12 faceoffs, Michigan had a slim, 22-21, edge in shots on goal and the Vikings had one less turnover. CSU also committed three fewer penalties than the Wolverines.
ANY GIVEN SATURDAY
A pair of Vikings have started every game Cleveland State has played thus far. Noah Gleeson and Stephen Masi have started every game either on attack or in the midfield. Jack Frickleton, Sherwin Gersten and Brandon Ruditz join that duo in playing in every Cleveland State game thus far.
Danny Tesler led Cleveland State in faceoff wins (90) and ground balls (69) in the program's debut season. He ranked among the top five freshmen in DI in both ground balls/game and faceoff percentage. Tesler also contributed offensively, scoring 10 goals in 12 games. Tesler won more than half of his faceoffs in last weekend's game at Michigan and posted a game-high nine ground balls.
LONG POLE OFFENSE
With his four goals this season, Zach Whitenack became the sixth Viking long-pole to contribute directly to CSU's offense by posting at least one point. Starting defender Brandon Ruditz also scored twice last season.
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT
Cleveland State saw a marked improvement on extra-man opportunities as its debut season progressed. After starting 1-for-13 with an advantage, the Vikings converted 19 of their last 46 chances with an extra man.
As the lone senior on this year's team, Parese Williams is set to graduate from Cleveland State this spring. However, that won't be his first graduation of this academic year. This past December Williams graduated from the FBI Student Academy at CSU, only the second such program established nationally. Williams, a criminology major, is also currently a member of the CSU Police Auxiliary Officer Program, helping the CSU Police force in various capacities around campus.
CAN YOU ASSIST ME?
Tristen Copeland led Cleveland State in points (28) and assists (14) in its debut season. He ranked among the top 15 DI freshman in assists per game and was also second on the team with 24 ground balls. Copeland had 4+ assists in two of his final five games in 2017. He scored his first goal of the season last time out at Michigan.
NOT BRAND NEW TO HIM
Last year's Feb. 4 program-opening game for Cleveland State also represented the collegiate head coaching debut of Dylan Sheridan. However, that 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.
Coach Dylan Sheridan did not shy away from anyone in putting together his inaugural schedule last year. Cleveland State was scheduled to face seven teams that were ranked in the preseason USILA poll in its 15 regular-season games in 2017. All seven of those games were to occur away from home. Cleveland State had one of the five toughest schedules nationally at the end of the regular season, trailing only two Big Ten teams and two ACC squads. The Vikings ended up playing five teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year. Of the more than a dozen programs to begin Division I men's lacrosse within the past decade, no first-year program has played more than five NCAA qualifying teams in its first season.