MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.–After a mid-season bye, the men’s lacrosse team at the University of Minnesota will return action this Friday as they host Central Michigan in a conference matchup. The Gophers (6-3, 2-1 CCLA) are ranked No. 24 in this week’s Under Armour Coaches Poll. They last played on March 5, against Colorado State, and after several weeks of rest, the Gophers will be looking to rebound off their 9-8 loss to the Rams. Face-off versus Central Michigan is scheduled at 8:00pm at Dundas Dome (Dundas, Minn.).
PREVIEWING CENTRAL MICHIGAN:
Central Michigan (0-3, 0-2 CCLA) finished last season 1-9 after going 7-5 in 2015. The Chippewas have additionally played two scrimmages this season against Sienna Heights (NAIA) and Saginaw Valley State University (NCLL), which they both won 12-10 and 17-5, respectively. They are currently led by Mike Transeth in his second year as head coach.
Collin Mitchell currently leads the Chippewas with 11 points. The junior attackman from Berlin, N.J. has scored at least 2 goals and totaled at least 3 points in every game/scrimmage this season. Next to him is freshman attackman Carson Pakula who has recorded at least a goal and an assist in every game/scrimmage this season.
The last time the Minnesota and Central Michigan faced off was in 2010’s Chris Jenkins Memorial Invitational. The Chippewas walked away with an 8-5 win against a Gopher team that had just upset the then No. 12 Lindenwood in overtime the previous day. This Friday’s game will be the first Gopher-Chippewa matchup in Coach Limpert’s tenure.
• Amar Batra and Chandler Sampson were both held without a goal for the first time this season in their last game against Colorado State. Both will be looking to get back in the scoring column this weekend. Batra currently leads the team with 26, while Sampson leads all midfielders with 13.
• After scoring 6 goals on 21 shots through the first 7 games this season, Matthew Johnson scored 4 goals on 13 shots throughout the last 2 games in Colorado, which includes a hat trick against Colorado State.
• Dylan Ptacek, a long-stick midfielder, had his first start at defense against Colorado State and had an impressive game forcing 3 turnovers and collecting 3 groundballs. Fans can expect to see Ptacek provide a larger impact in the Gophers’ defense throughout the second half of the season.
• Minnesota has proven to be dangerous on the extra-man opportunities as they are converting on 48% on the EMO. Meanwhile, the Gophers’ defense has held opponents to a 23% conversion on the EMO.
• The Gophers are holding opponents to 41% in clearing attempts throughout the season, while they are 80% in their own clearing attempts.
AROUND THE CONFERENCE:
Michigan State currently holds the top spot in the CCLA after defeating Pittsburgh 15-4, and defeating Davenport 13-7 last week. The No. 14 Spartans are 5-2 overall (3-0, CCLA) with their losses to No. 1 Georgia Tech and No. 7 Florida State. This weekend, they will travel east to play No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 18 Boston College.
Meanwhile Pittsburgh sits at second in the CCLA, and is 7-1 overall (4-1, CCLA). Their only loss in the season is to Michigan State. The Panthers are heading to Baltimore, Md. this weekend for the Battle of Baltimore where they will face No. 20 South Carolina, North Carolina State, and Northeastern before facing the Gophers the following weekend.
Minnesota and Davenport currently are third and fourth, respectively. Davenport (4-4, 1-2 CCLA) most recently broke a 4-game losing streak (losses to No. 1 Georgia Tech, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, and Michigan State) with wins over Indiana and Purdue this past weekend. They will play conference opponent Western Michigan on Thursday, March 30.
Western Michigan (2-3, 0-2 CCLA), Oakland (1-5, 0-2 CCLA), and Central Michigan (0-3, 0-2 CCLA) round out the rest of the conference and will be battling to climb in the CCLA standings for a place in the conference tournament.