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College Lacrosse's Exhibition Season Arrives

The Division I season gets underway this weekend.

Chris Graythen

Here's some dissonance for your head melon to try and reconcile:

  • Two Division I teams -- Ohio State and Delaware -- will open their 2014 campaigns with scrimmages this weekend.
  • The weather in these locations for Saturday:
    • Columbus, Ohio: High -- 24; Low -- 23. Snow is expected in the forecast.
    • Newark, Delaware: High -- 35; Low -- 23. Chance of snow is expected in the forecast.

Spring sport!

This is not go-and-watch-lacrosse-and-drink-in-the-velvety-goodness-of-the-college-game weather. This is sit-inside-and-ruin-pizza-rolls-in-the-oven-as-you-curse-Totinos-for-making-a-product-that-leaks-like-a-pipe-filled-with-diarrhea weather. It's the middle of January! Yet, here we are: Two Division I teams will kick off the rust and play games with uniforms and everything.

Here's the full schedule of Division I scrimmages happening this weekend:

January 18 1:00 Delaware Mercyhurst
January 18 12:00 Ohio State The Hill Academy

Some brief notes and things to watch for in each of the games:

  • Mercyhurst at Delaware:
    • This is far from an easy opening for the Blue Hens. The Lakers -- the national runner-up in 2013 at the Division II level -- are talented and dangerous: Mercyhurst is slotted third in both the Face-Off Yearbook Division II rankings and the Lacrosse Magazine Division II rankings; Mercyhurst features a malevolent defenseman in Andrew Wagner, a cat taken in the seventh round of last week's Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft and tabbed as Lacrosse Magazine's Division II preseason player of the year; and, outside of Wagner, the team features an additional four players highlighted as Division II preseason All-Americans in the Face-Off Yearbook annual. If Delaware doesn't come correct on Saturday, the Blue Hens could (1) suffer some embarrassment at the hands of a lower division team, and (2) fail to generate the benefit inherent in playing a highly-competitive Division II team.
    • The Blue Hens struggled like a drunk at a Jeopardy! tryout in 2013, but one of the biggest focuses for Delaware entering 2014 is whether the program can find some consistency on the offensive end this spring. Last year, the Blue Hens finished the season ranked 45th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 40th in raw shooting rate (26.47 percent), dead last in assist ratio (43.70 percent) and were just 59th in assist rate (12.37 per 100 offensive opportunities), 57th in extra-man conversion percentage (24.00 percent) while playing an average rate of man-up possessions per offensive opportunity, and were 49th in opponent save percentage (57.01 percent) and 52nd in opponent saves per 100 offensive opportunities (37.53). Those are ugly, disgusting offensive values and rankings. The team desperately needs someone to fill the void that Grant Kaleikau left behind after the 2012 season.
  • The Hill Academy at Ohio State:
    • Brodie Merrill has a hell of a thing going on at The Hill Academy, but Saturday's date in Columbus is all about the Buckeyes. There are probably two focuses for Ohio State this weekend: (1) Further development of offensive role definition in the vacuum that Logan Schuss and Dominique Alexander created due to their graduations; and (2) Further coalescence of the team's defense. With respect to the first point, the integration of Gordie Koerber at attack is key, as well as the leveraging of more production to Jesse King, Turner Evans, and Carter Brown. Schuss and Alexander carried a heavy load for the Buckeyes in the past (especially Schuss, the Silver Gleaming Death Machine), and how Ohio State transitions to a reality without those two weapons will help shape their picture for 2014. As for the second point, all the factors for skull-crushing are in place for Ohio State: The close defense returns intact and Greg Dutton will once again anchor the Buckeyes' goalkeeping efforts. There is a consistency in Ohio State's defensive composition, and the unit just needs to take that next step toward hyper-elite excellence.