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Cavs take on sliding Buckeyes

Undefeated squad attempts to elude potential trap game in front of potential record crowd

The No. 1 Virginia men's lacrosse team faces off against Ohio State (3-3, ECAC 1-0) tomorrow, taking its 7-0 record for its second straight game on the road. The meeting marks the second time the Cavaliers have ever played in Columbus. Virginia emerged from its last contest in Columbus with a 13-7 win in 2000.

With a capacity of 102,329, Ohio Stadium will be the largest venue in which Virginia (7-0, 0-0 ACC) has ever competed. The iconic stadium known as the "Horseshoe," which serves as the home of the Buckeyes' football team, will provide a special backdrop and the possibility of a record crowd for Virginia's attempt at a thirteenth straight win stretching back to last season.

The Cavaliers hope to avoid a letdown after their exciting overtime victory against Cornell last Saturday.

Next week's game against No. 2 Johns Hopkins is looming, but the Cavaliers can't afford to overlook the Buckeyes in what amounts to a trap game.

Having been the top-ranked team the whole season has painted a bull's-eye on the Cavaliers' backs, but redshirt senior midfielder Chris Clements and his teammates have embraced the tests week-in and week-out.

"It's a challenge we look forward to every week," Clements said. "If we can play our ball, we like our chances against most teams."

The Big Red came back from a three-goal deficit last week in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 8-8 and force the extra period, but senior midfielder Colin Briggs found the net with 1 minute 35 seconds left. The Cavaliers won despite being beaten in ground balls, clears, face-offs and extra-man opportunities.

Cornell did cough up more turnovers than Virginia, however, spurring the Cavaliers' offense, which currently ranks second in the nation with 12.86 turnovers given up per game, whereas the Buckeyes are tied for 11th nationally with 9.00 takeaways per game. Giving away crucial possessions is a potential downfall for a team which otherwise looks unbeatable.

While Virginia boasts an unblemished record, Ohio State has had its share of ups and downs this season. The Buckeyes opened with three straight wins, including a victory against No. 9 Denver. But then a flippant regard of Massachusetts led to a 9-3 trouncing, sending the Buckeyes into a three-game tailspin.

Despite the skid, the Buckeyes have been steadfast on defense, ranking ninth in the country. No team has scored in the double digits against them, though the Cavaliers come into the game with the country's third-best offense, averaging 13.7 goals per game. When the teams met last year in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers' offense prevailed with a 14-goal outpouring, the most goals allowed by the Buckeyes all season.

On the other side of the field, the Cavaliers will focus on containing Ohio State junior attacker Logan Schuss. An offensive powerhouse, Schuss currently ranks among the national leaders with more than four goals per game.

Virginia has a bad memory of facing him from the last time the teams played, when he scored five goals against the Cavaliers. Stopping Schuss will go a long way in helping Virginia come away with a victory.

Virginia's perfect record lays a trap - complacency - which the team needs to avoid to survive tomorrow's matchup.

"I've got a team that... understands that the thing that people are going to remember about 2012 is still down the road for us a little bit," coach Dom Starsia said. "We've had a nice start, and I think we're all pleased with that. And we're allowed to be. At the same time, we understand we have a lot of work to do"

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