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College Lacrosse

Ohio State men's lacrosse has a Baltimore flavor

More than 300 miles from his family's home in Lutherville, Robby Haus, a starting junior defenseman for the Ohio State men's lacrosse team, has brought a little Baltimore flavor to Columbus, Ohio.

In a house of seven players, four — Haus, junior attackmen Carter Brown and Gordie Koerber and junior midfielder Kacy Kapinos — hail from the Baltimore area, and another is from Potomac. Sundays in the fall are spent watching the Ravens on television and the walls are adorned by posters of the Ravens, Orioles and the Ocean City Lacrosse Classic.

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"I do miss my crabs and [Berger] Cookies," the junior said. "And I miss my dog. I just got a puppy."

Homesickness aside, Haus and nine other players from the Baltimore area have helped lift the Buckeyes into contention in the inaugural year of Big Ten Conference lacrosse. At 10-3 overall and 3-0 in the conference, Ohio State is ranked No. 11 in the latest Cascade/Maverik media poll and could move closer to capturing the Big Ten regular-season championship and a top seed in the league tournament with a win against No. 3 Maryland (11-1, 3-0) on Saturday.

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The Buckeyes' roster boasts players from 12 states and three Canadian provinces, but the Baltimore-area players are tied with New York for the largest group of representatives from one area.

Two — Haus (Gilman) and Brown (Calvert Hall) — have started all 13 games. Freshman attackman Colin Chell (Boys' Latin) has started nine, and sophomore midfielder John Kelly (Calvert Hall) has started five. Two — Kapinos (Loyola Blakefield) and freshman long-stick midfielder Brendan Barger (Gilman) — are members of the first defensive unit, and freshman defenseman Erik Evans (Calvert Hall) has also been in the mix.

Brown ranks second on the team in goals (26) and points (40), and Chell is tied for fourth in points (16). Haus ranks second in caused turnovers (eight), and Barger is fourth in ground balls (22).

It's no wonder that coach Nick Myers is fond of the players who represent Charm City.

"There's a big impact," he said. "Robby Haus has really anchored our defense, and he started as a freshman for us. Carter Brown, Kacy Kapinos, those are the three big-time guys in that class that are major contributors for us. And then you look in the freshman class at guys like Colin Chell, Brendan Barger, Erik Evans who have all played big-time minutes for us. … It's been great. They have great chemistry. Those guys have been big-time contributors for us."

Ohio State's pipeline to Baltimore was installed by former head coach Joe Breschi, who lived in Baltimore and graduated from Loyola Blakefield before playing at North Carolina. During his tenure — until 2008, when he left to coach the Tar Heels — players like midfielder Kevin Buchanan (Calvert Hall) and goalkeeper Tony Russo (Calvert Hall) were All-Americans, and others like attackman Mike Norton (Calvert Hall), midfielder Bryan Mulford (Calvert Hall), and midfielder Nick Miceli (Loyola) played important roles.

Myers has continued to cultivate that relationship, recruiting All-Americans in defensemen Joe Bonanni (St. Mary's) and Joe Meurer (McDonogh) and longtime starters in goalie Greg Dutton (Calvert Hall) and defensemen Scott Foreman (Calvert Hall) and Scott Matthews (Boys' Latin).

Myers said it has become easier to recruit players from the Baltimore region.

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"I do think now, more so than ever with the Big Ten Conference being aligned and with where we are, we're in as strong of a position as we ever have been to get on the phone, to go into a home, to talk to a family in that area," he said. "And not just a good player, but a premier player — Joe Meurer, Greg Dutton, Colin Chell, Carter Brown. You can say, 'Listen, here's an opportunity for you to come out and get a first-class education and play elite lacrosse and help take a program to the next step and compete for a championship.' I think that cracks the door open and then when they come out, they see a place that maybe is different from what they've grown up with."

CBS Sports Network analyst Evan Washburn said the university — long known for football and basketball — is becoming a destination for top-tier recruits.

"It's something that Joe Breschi started, and for Nick Myers, there's no reason not to continue it," Washburn said. "If you've got a fertile pipeline, you continue to ride it. But I do think that he's continuing to put his imprint on the way they play. There are few coaches I know that grind as much as Nick Myers does, and you see that in the way his team plays."

Players like Chell and Barger said the presence of Haus, Brown, Kapinos and junior attackman Gordie Koerber (Gilman) helped cement their decisions to commit to the Buckeyes.

"I just remember talking to Robby and just asking him questions about Ohio State," Barger said. "It certainly helps. It's just easier to reach out when you have questions and you know a guy from before."

And like their older teammates, Chell and Barger live together in an on-campus dorm, decorating their walls with Ravens and Orioles memorabilia and a Maryland flag.

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Brown, Haus and Kapinos met in their first year on campus and found their house through a friend who knew the previous tenants.

"We were like, 'That would be a great place,'" Kapinos recalled. "Having that connection in knowing each other from high school kind of helped spark a friendship. It was just easy that freshman year, and we became friends and moved into the house together."

The players are proud of their roots, but Brown said they have developed a love for their new home.

"It's definitely nice to get more Baltimore guys in, but it's not about Baltimore or where the guys are from," he said. "They're good lacrosse players, good kids, and they buy into Buckeye lacrosse, coach Myers and what we're doing here, and that's all that really matters."

edward.lee@baltsun.com


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