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Vikings to Take on Nationally Ranked Irish

Vikings to Take on Nationally Ranked Irish

Cleveland State (0-2) at No. 7 Notre Dame (0-0)
Saturday, Feb. 15 | 1:00 p.m.
Notre Dame, Ind. | Loftus Sports Center
Stats | Video

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The Cleveland State University lacrosse team will remain on the road to face a new foe. The matchup against Notre Dame, who is opening its season Saturday, will be CSU's first ranked foe of 2020. 

Notre Dame will be opening the regular season this weekend as its only games thus far were scrimmages against Detroit Mercy and Air Force. The Fighting Irish are ranked seventh nationally and are led by returning First Team All-American Bryan Costabile, who led ND with 42 goals last year. Head coach Kevin Corrigan, in his 32nd year at the helm, led Notre Dame to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the ninth time in the past 10 years in 2019. 

Tristan Hanna notched hat tricks in seven of the final 13 games last season. Earlier in 2019, Hanna became the first Viking to produce four consecutive hat tricks. He posted his 10th career hat trick with a trio of goals last time out vs. Michigan, his second straight hat trick to open the season. He now has scored in six straight games dating back to April 2019, a new program record. 

CSU often forced its opponents into failed clears last season. The Vikings' foes were just 248-for-351 on clears in 2019 with the 70.7% mark ranking as the best opponent clearing mark in DI. No CSU opponent cleared above 83.3% after the 2019 season opener. CSU's foes are 39-for-52 (.750) on the clear thus far this season. 

Michael Wilson was on fire offensively to end 2019, tallying 45 points in his final 10 games, He posted at least five points five times in his last 10 games, including a school record eight points in the March 12 win at Lafayette. Wilson's four points in the opening two games this season pushed his career total to 92, as he closes in on becoming the first Viking to hit 100. 

Sophomore twins Gareth and Ryan Haigh are making their marks on opposite ends of the field for CSU. Both Vikings made their first-career starts in the season opener. Gareth has played every minute in the cage and has 16 saves and six ground balls. Ryan has scored twice in each of CSU's first two games with his four total goals equaling the tally he produced throughout the entire 2019 season.

Isaac Atencio was honored with the College Champion Award at the Our Lady of the Wayside Champions in the Community banquet in the fall. Two local collegiate athletes were honored with champion awards along with a player from each of Cleveland's major professional teams. Wayside's celebration of the impact that athletes can have when they give back to their communities is billed as 'Not Your Average Sports Banquet.' Atencio serves as the Community Engagement chair for the Viking lacrosse program and has played a significant role in the multitude of community service that the program has performed in recent years.

This will be the first-ever meeting in lacrosse between Cleveland State and Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are one of only two new opponents on the schedule this season for the Vikings with Binghamton being the other. Notre Dame will be the fourth distinct ACC opponent for CSU as the Vikings played Duke (twice), North Carolina and Virginia over their first three seasons.

Cleveland State had a 49-29 advantage in ground balls over Detroit Mercy in collecting a victory in the 2019 finale. As a result, the Vikings improved to 8-2 last season when having more ground balls than their opponent. CSU has won 11 of its last 13 games overall when it has more GB's than its opponent.

Senior LSM Zach Whitenack can be a force on both ends of the field. After not having a point in 2017, Whitenack showed an offensive side of his game in 2018, scoring five goals on just 12 shots. He had 10 points, including seven goals, last season while adding 19 ground balls and 15 caused turnovers. Whitenack had his first assist of the season last time out at Michigan while also adding a trio of ground balls.

After not having a goal in the first six games, sophomore Nick Polydoras scored in seven of the final nine last year. He had his biggest game April 2, producing four goals in the win over Canisius. He also notched a hat trick against North Carolina. Polydoras led all CSU rookies in both goals (14) and points (19) last season and was named All-Freshman Honorable Mention by College Crosse. Polydoras has scored in five straight games dating back to last year.

After beginning the program with nearly entirely true freshmen in 2017, the 2020 season will represent the first one in which Cleveland State lacrosse has a true senior class. The Vikings have 20 players on the roster in their fourth year in school, 19 of whom were on the team during the program's first season.

Sophomore Gabe Reno tallied a trio of assists in the season opener against Marquette. In doing so, Reno matched his assist total from his entire rookie season.

#1 x 3
In hosting Penn State last March, Cleveland State played the top-ranked team for the third time in program history, albeit the first time it hosted the No. 1 team. The Vikings faced Denver and Penn State during the 2017 season when those squads were No. 1. This weekend's game will be the 15th time CSU faces a ranked squad as it competes in its fourth season.

Jack Frickleton's goal with just 1:02 left to play proved to be the game-winning tally in the game at Lafayette last season. It also had given the Vikings their first lead of the day. His goal stands as the latest game-winning goal in Cleveland State history.