By Briana Oldham
Coming off a season where the Cleveland State University men’s lacrosse team won four total Division I games versus six opponents who were in the NCAA’s top 25 rankings, returning Head Coach Dylan Sheridan wanted to take this season up a notch. He made sure to do so by scheduling seven games this season against teams which were ranked among the top 25 in the preseason.
The Vikings’ opener was jam-packed with excitement when the Battle of Ohio, which took place Feb 2., against 15th ranked Ohio State University. This is the second straight season Cleveland State and Ohio State have played each other to start the season. This is recognized as a big game for the team and the students alike, with Cleveland State sending a bus full of fans to Ohio State to help cheer on the team.
Though this is only their third season, the Vikings are looking to continue to improve as a team.
This year, there are 29 players returning from last year, and they are expected to step up to the plate and make this the best season the sport has seen. At the helm steering the Viking ship is junior team captain Danny Tesler, the first two-time captain, something he considers an honor.
As a junior, Tesler takes pride in having started the program just a few years ago and wishes to take the sport to the next level.
“Being able to start a Division I program with a sold-out crowd is second to none,” Tesler said.
He is joined by fellow captains junior Isaac Atencio, sophomore Quinn Lemke and junior Nick Wendel. Sheridan announced the permanent captains at the end of the fall season, and there’s been no looking back since.
In the Vikings’ game against Ohio State, the team fell short, losing 12-9. Tesler won over half of the faceoffs he was in, 12 of 23, along with an added goal and four ground balls. Though the Vikings trailed all game, there were times when it looked like a comeback was in the works and they would overtake Ohio State.
In the end, the rally came up short, and the team looked ahead to the home opener against 20th ranked University of Michigan.
They would be down 7-0 midway through the second period. In an effort that spanned more than half of the game, the team couldn’t overcome the deficit, suffering a 10-8 loss.
When looking at how the team can improve, Tesler said that the team is taking things one day at a time, and they welcome the challenge of facing the top teams in the nation.
“We see it as a chance to do as Coach Bergman says and ‘focus on the next task,’” Tesler said. “Facing two nationally ranked teams back to back to kick off the season and keeping it close with them, that shows that we are on the doorstep of something great.”
The team has familiarity with each other, as 14 players went to high school with at least one other player on the roster. Tesler said that this is a big factor in how well they play together.
“I have never been part of a team with a tighter bond,” Tesler said. “We are able to withstand difficulties and challenges, getting over the hardships a lot quicker and easier because we know we have 44 brothers who all want the very best for each other.”