By Adam Schabel
The Cleveland State University lacrosse team opened their season at home on Feb. 3 in front of a sold-out crowd at the Krenzler Dome. The Vikings hosted the No. 7 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
They played the Buckeyes tough, but in the end, Ohio State was too much for Cleveland State to handle as the Vikings lost the match by a final score of 13-6.
A week later, Cleveland State traveled to Ann Arbor to take on the University of Michigan Wolverines, another prominent opponent from the Big Ten Conference.
The Vikings hung in there with the Wolverines as they matched Michigan in numerous statistical categories. However, Cleveland State ultimately fell short and lost the match 15-5.
Vikings head coach Dylan Sheridan viewed their first two games as a learning experience for the younger players on the team.
“Competing against teams like OSU and Michigan are a great measuring stick for us. I don’t feel like we played particularly well, but for almost half the team, these were their first ever collegiate games,” Sheridan said. “That said, each success and failure is an opportunity for our guys to learn and grow and I have no doubt that we are better for having played great competition.”
Sophomore captain, Noah Gleeson, echoed his coach’s sentiment in regards to the newcomers on the team.
“I think we played pretty well during those first couple games but still have a lot of room for improvement,” Gleeson said. “The team handled playing these tough opponents pretty well considering it was a lot of freshman’s first collegiate games.”
The Vikings returned home to take on the Mercer University Bears on Feb. 13. Cleveland State rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game at five and force overtime. However, their efforts were fruitless as the Vikings fell to the Bears 10-9.
Cleveland State now has an 0-3 record to begin the season, but it doesn’t seem to be phasing them as their expectations for improvement remain.
“My expectations are that we continue on the trajectory set by our inaugural team. They stayed committed to the process of improving every day and really owned the responsibility of being the first Vikings lacrosse team,” Sheridan said. “Now in year two, with a solid foundation in place, I expect our men to continue to excel in the classroom and take our program to another level competitively.”
The Vikings have a couple of marquee matchups this season that the team is looking forward to. Cleveland State will travel to Colorado to take on the University of Denver, who is ranked No. 3 in the country, on Feb. 25. The team will also host No. 1 Duke University on March 18.
“I know the whole team is pretty excited to go on our Colorado trip and play the University of Denver, who is typically one of the top ranked teams in the country,” Gleeson said. “Also, we are excited to have Duke, who was ranked No. 1 in the country at the start of the season, to come to Krenzler Field and play us.”
Sheridan hopes to see a large crowd when Cleveland State hosts Duke.
“Every game in our sport is huge because there are so few, but I’d be crazy not to be excited about playing host to the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils next month,” Sheridan said. “It’s rare in sports to get these kinds of opportunities, and I hope our community and student body here at CSU rallies to support us in our biggest home game in program history.”
The team has multiple goals that they are looking to accomplish this season, but one of them stands out from the rest.
“The main goal that we are focusing on is showing all of [Division I] college lacrosse that we are a good team and we are here to compete with every team no matter what they are ranked or where they are from,” Gleeson said.
Sheridan elaborates on his expectation that the team stays focused and take pride in what they do.
“My goals are for our guys to continue buying into our program and each other on a daily basis,” Sheridan said. “I want them taking an immense amount of pride in being CSU student-athletes.”