By: Michael Comodeca
After their inaugural season last year, Cleveland State University’s lacrosse team looks to build on their 2016-2017 campaign heading into their fall schedule.
The fall schedule is not easy, it consists of two Division I schools, a Division II team and the defending world champion in Team Canada. While the Vikings start their season against extremely tough opponents, head coach Dylan Sheridan hopes this will help the maturation of the program in the team’s second season.
“We hope the strength of our fall schedule will accelerate our learning curve and prepare us for a successful second season at the Division I level,” Sheridan said.
Cleveland State opens their season on Saturday, Sept. 30 with a match versus Ohio Wesleyan, which is a perennial NCAA tournament team.
After that, they head to Buffalo, New York on Oct. 8 to face the world champion Team Canada. That match will be part of the roster selection process for the Vikings for the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships. The game versus Canada came about due to the relationship Sheridan has with a few players and coaches on their team.
“I am fortunate to have coached a number of the Canadian world team players and shared a sideline with Matt Brown – Team Canada’s offensive coordinator – during my time at the University of Denver,” Sheridan said. “Randy Mearns – Team Canada’s head coach – is one of my favorite people in the game. Coach Mearns and I speak often; he recently moved to St. Bonaventure to start a Division I program, so we share that in common.”
Rounding out the fall part of the Vikings’ schedule includes a double header in Binghamton, New York on Oct. 21. Cleveland State will take on Binghamton and Manhattan. Binghamton had a top-20 ratings perception index (RPI) last year and an 11-5 record while winning five of their seven games played at home. RPI is used to rank sports teams based on strength of schedule and a team’s wins and losses, according to NCAA.org.
Coach Sheridan has the same expectations, recruiting methods and standards that he holds his players to no matter if it’s the first season or 15th season of the program. The type of player’s Sheridan looks for are individuals who can excel on and off the field.
“My expectations never change,” Sheridan said. “We aspire to recruit and develop young men of impeccable character and a relentless drive to compete in every area of their lives. For a roster comprised of almost entirely freshmen, academically and socially we set a high bar. I believe in setting goals, but more importantly I believe in creating standards. Our men are tasked with being gentlemen, loving the game and one another and holding each other accountable – on and off the field. Living by these standards, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”
The Vikings played a tough schedule last year in its inaugural season and things do not get much easier this year. However, these road blocks help them grow together.
“Athletically, we played one of the toughest schedules in the country,” Sheridan said. ‘Team One’ laid the framework for a winning culture.”