2017 Was Ohio's Year in Lacrosse


The ride has just started for Ohio State after making its first final four appearance.

2017 was Ohio’s year in lacrosse.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Ohio and lacrosse share Iroquois origins. The state owes its name to the people of the longhouse — it derives from the Iroquoian ohi-yo, meaning good river — while the sport exists solely as an evolution of the Creator’s Game.

Still, no one’s calling Ohio a hotbed for the sport. That may soon change.


Coach Nick Myers enjoyed quite a 10-month stretch from July 2016-May 2017, leading the U.S. U19 team to a gold medal in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and then laying the groundwork for a historic season at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes  — whose top three scorers (Eric Fannell, Tre Leclaire and Johnny Pearson) and faceoff specialist (Jake Withers) were Canadian — became one of the most fun-to-watch teams in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse. For all the fireworks those guys lit, Ohio State also could close the door on defense, thanks largely to the emergence of Stony Brook transfer Ben Randall as one of the top cover defensemen in the country. Add in a terrific goalie in Tom Carey plus a sparkplug like Alabama native and offensive Swiss Army knife Jack Jasinski, and Ohio State had the formula to break through to championship weekend.

The Buckeyes overcame a five-goal deficit to defeat Towson, making its first final four appearance since 2001, in the NCAA semifinals before falling to a team of greater destiny, Maryland, in the championship game.

This ride is just getting started, however. Ohio State signed Myers to a five-year contract extension, the lacrosse program is the centerpiece of a new $40 million facility for non-revenue sports, and Ohio State has the No. 7-ranked incoming recruiting class for the 2018 season, according to Inside Lacrosse.


A magical Major League Lacrosse season for the Ohio Machine started with the opening of Fortess Obetz, the nation’s first professional lacrosse-focused stadium, and ended with a redeeming 17-12 win over the Denver Outlaws in the MLL championship game Aug. 19 in Frisco, Texas.

Akron native Kyle Bernlohr was among the revelations for the Machine. The second-year pro emerged as Ohio’s starting goalie down the stretch. MLL MVP Tom Schreiber, MVP finalist Peter Baum and championship game MVP Marcus Holman took care of the rest.


Ohio’s urban lacrosse awakening arrived when Cleveland State hosted Michigan in front of a sold-out crowd inside the Krenzler Dome on Feb. 4. The Vikings began their existence as the 71st NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse program by scoring the opening goal of the game off the stick of midfielder Nick Wendel. The dome erupted.

About five miles west of Cleveland State at the Urban Community School in Ohio City, the real revolution had already begun. Seven months later, several Vikings players were on hand as US Lacrosse and community leaders cut the ribbon Sept. 15 on a new small-sided field at the school that will serve as a hub for the Lacrosse Communities Project. US Lacrosse and its North Coast Ohio Chapter have committed $300,000 to the program in local and national funds over two years.


On Sept. 19, the University of Akron announced its intention to add women’s lacrosse (and baseball) through a community-backed fundraising effort. If approved, the Zips will have a team in 2020. Twenty-four colleges and universities in Ohio across all divisions have varsity women’s lacrosse teams. Kent State and Ashland have also announced plans to add.


2017 was the first year the Ohio High School Athletic Association sanctioned boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, including state tournaments. The championships were held at Ohio Wesleyan.

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