February 27th, 2015
BU LAX to host Midwestern Classic this weekend
The proper name for it is the Midwest Classic Lacrosse Weekend. For the Bellarmine University lacrosse team, it could just as easily be referred to as Rivalry Weekend.
On Friday and Sunday, the Knights, who are hosting the Midwest Classic, will welcome highly familiar Division I opponents in Ohio State and Detroit. Bellarmine (1-1) and the Buckeyes (3-1) will face off at 6 p.m. (ET) Friday at Owsley B. Frazier Stadium in their ninth meeting in the series since the BU program's inception in 2005, and the Knights will then clash with Detroit (2-1) at 3:30 p.m. Sunday for the seventh time.
Ohio State has won its last four games with Bellarmine and owns a 7-1 record in the series, with the Knights taking a 14-13 overtime thriller in 2010 for their lone victory against the Buckeyes. Last season, when the two were Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals, Ohio State pulled out a 10-7 win in Columbus, Ohio.
"We know a lot about them, but they know a lot about us, too," BU Coach Kevin Burns said. "It's always been a good battle, even though there's been a couple years where we haven't been close, and there's a couple years where we've been really close. I'm just glad that we get to continue to keep the series going."
After falling 9-8 at Detroit in its season opener, Ohio State has won three straight games, notching a 10-6 win over Robert Morris, a 10-3 victory over Delaware and a 15-5 romp over Dartmouth.
"They're very talented. They're probably one of the more talented Ohio State teams we'll have played in the last couple years," Burns said. "They're well-coached and do what they do extremely well. They're very disciplined, organized and have some exceptional players."
Jesse King would be one of those exceptional players. The senior midfielder ranks third in the Big Ten in both goals scored (12) and points per game (4.25). Senior midfielder David Planning is another established threat who has recorded four goals and five assists. In addition, junior attack Carter Brown ranks third in the Big Ten in assists per game (1.75, seven total) and is tied for eighth in points per game (2.75, 11 total).
"Jesse King and David Planning are phenomenal, and that's on top of a bunch of really good players that they have," Burns said.
After opening with the win over Ohio State, Detroit suffered a 15-6 setback to Michigan but regrouped for an 11-10 overtime victory against Robert Morris. The Titans, who are receiving votes in the USILA Coach's Poll, will meet No. 17 Marquette (3-0) at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the Midwest Classic before their Sunday showdown with Bellarmine. The Knights have won all six of their meetings with Detroit, including last season's 12-8 road triumph, and if BU is going to extend that streak Burns said his squad is really going to have to dig in against the Titans.
"They have a lot of really good pieces, and they never give up," Burns said. "They play really hard and it's going to be a dogfight. It's going to be a little less about the execution of the Xs and Os; it's going to be about handling their toughness and how they are going to come at us."
Offensively, freshman attack Mark Anstead has had an impressive start to his Titans career, registering team highs in points (11), goals (five) and assists (six). He's tied for first in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in assists and is second in points per game (3.67). Senior attack Shayne Adams is next with six points on four goals and two assists, and senior midfielder/attack Brandon Beauregard (three goals, two assists) and senior midfielder Mike Birney (two goals, three assists) have chipped in five points apiece.
Sophomore goalie Jason Weber has accumulated 47 saves in three starts for Detroit along with a 10.88 goals-against average.
"They score in bunches and have a couple elite players that are very tough one-on-one matchups," Burns said. "Their goalie is phenomenal and is one of the best in the country from what I've seen so far. I thought Michigan's (Gerald Logan) was probably the best in the country, but Jason Weber is not far behind him at all."
Bellarmine opened the season with a 16-9 loss at Michigan in which the Knights pushed out to a 5-2 lead and held a 7-5 halftime advantage, but the Wolverines controlled the second half and achieved the win by outscoring BU 11-2 over the final two periods. In its second game, at Robert Morris, Bellarmine again owned the early going and built a 6-3 lead and 6-5 halftime advantage. However, in the second half this time, the Knights closed the deal behind a commanding fourth quarter in which they put away six goals en route to a 13-10 victory.
"I think there are a lot of young guys we're playing, and even over the course of one game to the next I think they improved a lot and calmed down a lot," Burns said. "We made some uncharacteristic mistakes — things we didn't do in practice — in that first game. In the second game, we were far from perfect but much closer to where we want to be and playing how we want to play. I was really pleased with that."
Burns was also pleased with how the Knights responded to some situations that were less than ideal at Robert Morris.
"The conditions were terrible with the snow and the cold and the wind, and then the game time was bumped up on us," he said. "We played at a time where we're usually waking up for breakfast. To fight all of those circumstances and come out with a win, I thought it showed a lot of heart from the team early in the season."
Sophomore attack Austin Shanks has already piled up nine goals for Bellarmine — and leads the Southern Conference at 4.5 per game and 5.0 points per outing — while sophomore attack Jack Perkins has added four goals and senior attack Dylan Gatt has chipped in three. Senior midfielder Ryan Scinta leads the Knights with four assists and is second in the SoCon at 2.0 per game, and sophomore attack Tucker Ciessau has distributed three.
Sophomore midfielder Tyler Nangle has corralled a team-high nine ground balls and won 19-of-29 face-offs to rank second in the SoCon in face-off percentage at 65.5, while freshman goalie Drew Goethals has amassed 24 saves. The Knights currently lead the conference in ground balls at 32 per game.
Burns noted that while low temperatures are expected at the Midwest Classic, the conditions aren't anticipated to be anywhere near as arduous as what the Knights dealt with at Robert Morris.
"We try to go outside every day for practice," Burns said. "I want us to experience the cold and the wind because that's what we're going to be playing in. We want to be prepared for that. If it's 20 degrees, right now that's a warm day for us."
Admission to the Midwest Classic each day is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-18. Children under 5 years old are free.
Midwest Classic Lacrosse Weekend
Owsley B. Frazier Stadium
Friday, February 27
3:30 p.m.: Detroit vs. Marquette (live stats)
6 p.m.: Ohio State vs. Bellarmine (live stats)
Sunday, March 1
1 p.m.: Marquette vs. Ohio State (live stats)
3:30 p.m.: Detroit vs. Bellarmine (live stats)