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.
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 tough opponents, head coach Dylan Sheridan hopes this will help the maturity 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 opened their season on Saturday, Sept. 30 in a scrimmage versus Ohio Wesleyan, which is a perennial NCAA tournament team. Although, there is no official score, Sheridan believed the final score was 10-8 in favor of Ohio Wesleyan.
After that, they traveled to Buffalo, New York on Oct. 8 and faced off against the world champion Team Canada. That match was part of the roster selection process for Team Canada, which is part of the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championships.
The game versus Canada came to fruition due to the relationship Sheridan has with a few players and coaches on their team. Sheridan has a familiarity with former All-Americans: Mark Matthews, Zach Currier, Tyler Pace, Wes Berg and Jeremy Noble. This exemplifies the steep level of competition Cleveland State faced.
“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.
In addition, Sheridan and the lacrosse team named four captains for the 2018 season. The four players selected were sophomore Caleb Espinoza, Noah Gleeson, Gage Johnson and Danny Tesler. The captains were selected as part of a team vote.
“With regard to captains, we put it to vote,” Sheridan said. “Members of our team and staff contributed their input and ultimately, I feel like we appointed four really high character, hard-working men to lead the program.”
Sheridan’s recruiting methods and the expectations that he holds his players to do not change, no matter if it’s the first season or 15th season. The type of players he looks for are individuals who can excel on and off the field.
“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,” Sheridan said.
Sheridan focuses on not only setting goals but also looks at maintaining the high standards he expects from his players.
“Our men are tasked with being gentlemen, loving the game and one another and holding each other accountable – on and off the field,” Sheridan said. “Living by these standards, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”
The Vikings played a tough schedule last year in its inaugural season and things will not get any easier this year. However, these roadblocks 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.”