A week ago, the thought was that Ohio State -- despite knocking off 2012 national champion Loyola and Denver to capture the Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament -- was overvalued as the third seed in the NCAA tournament. Despite a convincing 16-6 victory over Towson in the first round, the Buckeyes are viewed as underdogs.
That has to do with Ohio State (13-3) meeting Cornell (13-3) in the first game of Saturday’s quarterfinals at Byrd Stadium in College Park. The Big Red are unseeded, but after walloping sixth-seeded Maryland, 16-8, last Sunday, many pundits and fans insist that Cornell will be the first team to advance to the national semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia next weekend.
The lack of respect is nothing new to the Ohio State players and coaches.
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“There’s always going to be people that are doubting you, and we don’t get as much TV time as some of those other teams,” said junior goalkeeper Greg Dutton, a Timonium native and Calvert Hall graduate. “So it wasn’t surprising that a lot of people had their doubts. But we were all confident in ourselves. We know we’re a good team, and we’ve played a lot of good teams this year, and we’ve done well. I think we just use that as motivation to come out and play well. Honestly, I’m sure there are still doubters out there, but that’s why we play the game. Hopefully on Saturday, we can prove some more people wrong.”
Freshman attackman Carter Brown pointed out that the Buckeyes were not even included in Inside Lacrosse’s top 20 preseason poll.
“I don’t know if you ever answer all the critics, but it’s not something that we’re too worried about,” the Bel Air native and Calvert Hall graduate said. “All year, we’ve kind of been the underdog. It’s just something we’re not too worried about. We know how good we are, and we know how we can play, and that’s what is most important.”
Coach Nick Myers said he is not stunned at the team’s underdog status against the Big Red.
“Cornell has been at the top of the polls all year,” Myers said. “They’re averaging 15 goals a game and giving up eight, and they’ve got the best player in the country. They’re a great team with tradition, they’ve been there before. It’s not hard for me to see why people are picking them as the favorite, but at the end of the day, we’re one of eight teams left. Our kids don’t lack confidence. There’s no concern that we can’t play with anyone in the country. When you come out of the ECAC and you win that league, I think that gives you the confidence that on any given day, you can beat anybody. At the same time, you’re really humbled when you put the film about Cornell on, and it brings you right back down to earth.”