CLEVELAND, Ohio – While the Cleveland State University lacrosse team recently returned to campus to begin preparations for the 2020 season, many Vikings played competitively during the summer months in box lacrosse leagues.
Twenty seven members of the 2020 roster competed in sanctioned box lacrosse leagues, including 17 that were part of the second season of the Ohio Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (OCBLL).
Senior Noah Gleeson and freshman Karson Burkey highlighted the summer season for CSU by being members of the Rivermen squad that won the inaugural National Collegiate Box Series championship. The event featured the winners of the Colorado Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (CCBLL) and the OCBLL facing off against one another at USBOXLA Nationals in Irvine, Calif.
With his team in a must-win position in the championship series, Gleeson produced four goals and two points to help the Rivermen knot the series at a game apiece. He then proceeded to score the goal to give the Rivermen the lead for good in the third tiebreaker game as his squad won the title.
Gleeson was credited with 18 points and 27 loose balls in nine games for the Rivermen while Burkey had seven goals and 18 loose balls in nine games.
The OCBLL runner-up Walleyes were led by a pair of Vikings on the offensive end. Senior Nate Menendez had 27 points, including 22 goals, in eight games, ranking third in the OCBLL, while classmate Jared Stepka had 24 points in seven games to sit fifth in the circuit in points. Senior defenders Gage Johnson and Brandon Ruditz and junior Matt Manfredi all were regular contributors to the Walleyes as well.
Five Vikings—Chase Baker, Jack Frickleton, Stephen Masi, Zach Whitenack and Connor Zwagerman—competed for the lone expansion team in this year's OCBLL, the Guardians. Masi led the team in goals (11) and tied for the team lead in points (15) in seven games while Zwagerman's 100 faceoff wins and 47 ground balls led the Guardians and ranked second in the OCBLL.
Incoming freshman Dylan Warner tied for third on the Aviators squad in points, posting 14 in six games. Classmate Brendan Sigurdson and sophomores Adam Clark and Justin Miller were also regular contributors for the Aviators while sophomore Jacob Humphreys suited up for the Stags.
Senior Troy Loper led CSU's CCBLL contingent in points, tallying 35 in 10 games for the Gold Miners. Classmate Carter Jensen posted 19 points in just five games for the Bighorns while senior defenseman Isaac Atencio was third on the team in loose balls (26). Senior Nick Wendel had 14 points for the CCBLL runner-up Red Hawks while Jason Sullivan had a brief stint with the Blizzard.
Five Vikings competed north of the border, four of which took part in the Ontario Junior A Lacrosse League.
Junior Michael Harris helped the Burlington Chiefs to the OJALL championship series where they lost to eventual Minto Cup champion Orangeville Northmen. A transition player, Harris was the only member of the Chiefs to play in all 20 regular-season games.
Brothers Gareth and Ryan Haigh helped the Mimico Mountaineers to a playoff berth by tallying 53 and 28 points, respectively, while Tristan Hanna contributed 39 points in 16 games for the Toronto Beaches.
Freshman Kevin Sobey was CSU's lone participant in the British Columbia Junior Tier 1 Lacrosse League. Sobey competed in 14 games for the Delta Islanders, who went on to claim the championship after entering the playoffs as the third seed.
Cleveland State posted a winning record in its third season by winning seven of its final 10 games this past season. After having one DI win in their first season, the Vikings had four in 2018 before registering eight in 2019. In its third year of existence, Cleveland State had no true seniors on its roster in 2019.