2021 NCAA Lacrosse Preview: No. 12 Ohio State (Men)

PHOTO BY LOUIS DELUCA

The second-leading scorer in Ohio State history, Tre Leclaire returns as the most skilled player on the Buckeyes offense.


College lacrosse is back. As perhaps the most anticipated season in NCAA history approaches, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/US Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USLaxMagazine.com each weekday for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

No. 12 Ohio State

2020 Record: 4-2
Pre-COVID Ranking: 17th

Tre Leclaire was just a freshman when Ohio State advanced to the NCAA championship game in 2017. The Buckeyes gave the favored Maryland team a run for its money before falling 9-6 on Memorial Day.

Leclaire stepped onto the field as a talented freshman with a bright future. He took part in the Gillette Stadium practices, the press conferences, the pageantry of Memorial Day. From that point on, he’s known the potential of this Ohio State program.

“Me, Jeff and Ryan reflect on that every day — we still feel what it was like to step onto that field at Gillette Stadium,” he said. “We want that again for this team. We had that taste and that feeling stays in your mind when you’re working. That’s the fuel to our fire right now.”

Now almost four years later, Leclaire is playing the role of senior leader for an Ohio State team that feels it can reach Memorial Day once again. He and fellow fifth-year seniors Ryan Terefenko and Jeff Henrick are the only remaining players from that day in 2017, and they’re eager to end their Buckeye careers in the same game.

After two seasons in which Ohio State narrowly missed the NCAA tournament, coach Nick Myers and a large senior class have their eyes set on ending that streak.

“They've experienced the process and what a fine line it is between final four weekend and being on the outside of the NCAA tournament,” Myers said of the fifth-year seniors. “They've come to appreciate just focusing on the work and not getting too consumed with the outcome one way or another. We know we want Big Ten championships and championship weekends.”

Nike/USL Preseason Top 20
Team Previews

1. Duke 2. Syracuse 3. Maryland 4. Penn State
5. Virginia 6. North Carolina 7. Denver 8. Yale
9. Cornell 10. Notre Dame 11. Georgetown 12. Ohio State
13. Loyola 14. UMass 15. Army 16. Lehigh
17. Richmond 18. Penn 19. Rutgers 20. Johns Hopkins

The chemistry that will allow the Buckeyes to reenter the national conversation starts in a townhome off the campus of Ohio State. Leclaire, Henrick, Terenfenko and three other teammates live there together during the school year — the fifth-year trio going on their fourth year being roommates.

At the house, the competition is just a fierce as it would be on the lacrosse field. The teammates duel on the basketball hoop in the driveway, during “Call of Duty” raids and in the living room over who gets the remote control.

“We’re so competitive with each other,” Leclaire said. “From video games to who’s in the kitchen first, it’s always a competition. Nothing but good times with those two guys.”

Adding Hofstra transfer defenseman Eric Wenz and Furman transfer goalie Alec Van De Bovenkamp, the Ohio State lacrosse house is full of veterans who are ready to end their careers on a high note. They routinely join underclassmen on Zoom calls and FaceTimes, trying to develop the chemistry during a pandemic that has restricted face-to-face meetings.

The seniors understand the importance of continuing the culture set forth by previous senior classes — including the one that reached final four weekend. Before Leclaire, Terefenko and Henrick — all of them NLL draft picks — head off to promising professional careers, they have unfinished business in 2021.

“We remember that game and everything that came with it,” Leclaire said of 2017. “That’s the fuel to our fire right now.”






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TOP RETURNERS

Tre Leclaire, A, Gr.

The second-leading scorer in Ohio State history, Leclaire returns as the most skilled player on the Buckeyes offense. He was sixth among active NCAA Division I players in career goals scored (135) when the 2020 season ended.

Ryan Terefenko, M, Gr.

Terefenko is the US Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Midfielder of the year for his physicality and effectiveness on both sides of the field. He is the program leader with 139 career ground balls and is a two-time captain.


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•  Ryan Terefenko, Nick Myers' Coaching Protégé


Justin Inacio, FO, Sr.

Inacio entered as a high-end faceoff recruit and has lived up to his potential. He’s amassed a 63.2 faceoff percentage over 30 games and could prove vital providing possessions for a talented Buckeyes’ offense.

KEY ADDITION

Alec Van De Bovenkamp, G, Gr.

Van De Bovenkamp comes to Columbus from Furman, where the program was cut this past year. He brings experience as a two-time captain and four-year starter for the Paladins, where he stopped 51 percent of shots faced in 2019.

ENEMY LINES

“Highly talented. They are Nick Myers clones. They’re ready for every situation, ready for every game. They have an air of confidence about them. I think people better watch out if they overlook them.”

NUMBERS GAME

18 and 14

Ohio State’s RPI ranking at the end of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, respectively. Following the 2017 title game appearance, the Buckeyes have failed to return to the NCAA tournament. Nick Myers and his program know what’s at stake and the fine line between being a contender and missing out again.

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