Men's Lacrosse Vs. Detroit Mercy: Preview

That smell is the sweet scent of a brand new season percolating. In just a few hours, we will have another season of Buckeye lacrosse, full of promise and possibility. And it's going to be an incredible ride. Starting us off will be Detroit Mercy, who seem to have completely flipped their team identity this year from years past. It should present an interesting challenge for the Buckeyes.

Detroit has been a program on the fringes for a while now, usually well-coached on what they want to do, but not really ever making a huge impact. Calling them the Mercer of the North isn't too much of a stretch, though they put up much more of a fight overall than Mercer does. The Titans used to be known for lockdown defense and anemic offense, however that may have changed this year, based on an admittedly small sample size.

In their only game this year, Detroit managed to eke out a 15-14 win over Jacksonville after going down 5 goals in the first quarter. They did that on the back of a player I had my eye on before the season started, #29 Kyle Waters. A redshirt freshman (no idea why he redshirted), Waters is honestly too good for Detroit. He is massive at 6'4" and a listed 205, though he's got to be closer to 220. Waters is a Canadian who thrived in box lacrosse last summer, going off for 97 points to jumpstart his way into the season. Against Jacksonville, Waters had 5 goals on 7 shots, and an assist. Waters is a slower, taller, more brutal Leclaire. He has a rocket shot, won't run by anyone, but can score without any space at all. And he will be a problem for the Buckeyes if they can't figure out a way to key on him. Paired with Waters will be junior #91 Brett Erskine, another Canadian who scored 4 goals and had an assist against Jacksonville, and senior #26 Seth Mendell, who had 1 goal on 3 shots. That means the attack unit accounted for 66% of the goals scored against Jacksonville, and will certainly ensure the Buckeye D has its hands full come Tuesday night.

In offensive midfield, the Titans relied upon junior #20 Ollie Nigh and sophomore #23 Cam Kostus, another 6'4" 210-pound behemoth. Again, no way he is 210. 220 or 230 would be more accurate. Kostus is a bit more spry than Kyle Waters is, but still isn't a burner. At 6'4", though, he doesn't have to be. Kostus can score with either hand on the alley dodge, making him just enough of a threat that the defense must respect him. Kostus was the only other multi-goal dodger after the attackmen, making him the most likely to draw Jeff Henrick at LSM.

As an offense, Detroit is extremely traditional. Alley dodges from topside are the order of the day, with inverts at X being the changeup to get the ball to the attackmen up the wings or by the restraining line. The Titans aren't elite athletically, but their Canadian attackmen have really good shots. The physicality of Waters and Kostus will present a unique challenge for the D, but if the unit can keep the big boys in front of them, the Titans will struggle.

Defensively, Detroit Mercy seems to be down a bit this year. The Titans will push out and challenge a ballcarrier at any point in the offensive zone, even well above the restraining line. They match that aggressive mindset with early slides, meaning that even a hint of a step will spark the rotation. This can be a big help to the Buckeyes if the middies can keep their eyes up while dodging. If not, it will be tough going yet again.

Against Jacksonville, Detroit started two seniors at close D, #46 Alex Akins and #93 Sam McClain. The two will anchor the defense down low, while LSM junior #18 Paul Manuszak will look to erase whomever takes over as primary ball handler for the Buckeye middies. The addition of the Mitchells should make this less of an issue, but that remains to be seen. Outside of Jack Jasinski last year, no middie really showed the ability to beat his man. This is the first opportunity to see what the new look midfield can do.

In goal, Detroit started junior #2 Logan Shamblin. Shamblin...struggled. With a save percentage of 33% against a not great Jacksonville team, the Buckeyes should have plenty of opportunities to put goals past Shamblin. He only had 7 saves against a Detroit Mercy team not brimming with stars, and will hopefully allow the Buckeyes to get this season started on the right foot.

On the whole, this should be a fairly easy win for Ohio State. Outside of a couple good players, the Titans are wildly overmatched athletically. They play a slow brand of lacrosse that fits in perfectly with what the Buckeyes want to do on D. And on offense, Ohio State should have the horses to blow past defenders, poles and shortsticks alike. It should be a nice win to get ready for a challenging Bucknell team in the next game.

Final prediction: OSU 16, Detroit 9.

Go Bucks!

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