Ohio Machine draftees are tearing up NCAA lacrosse this season, and three defensive players have specifically stood out. Notre Dame’s Stephen O’Hara, Bucknell’s Jackson Place and Virginia’s Joseph Lisicky are putting together All-American-esque seasons so far in 2014.
This past week, Stephen O’Hara earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his role in the Fighting Irish’s 18-9 win over Virginia. O’Hara caused three turnovers and picked up four groundballs against the Cavaliers. Notre Dame has become accustom to performances like this from O’Hara. He leads the team with seven caused turnovers on the year. No other Fighting Irish player has more than two. O’Hara has been a cornerstone for the Notre Dame defense, starting every game since the beginning of the 2012 season.
"Steve O'Hara is just a stud,” said Notre Dame Head Coach Kevin Corrigan following the Fighting Irish’s victory over Virginia. “He is a guy that we don't have to slide to when he's on the ball. If you can have a couple guys like that, it makes it a whole lot easier to play team defense. He's playing at a very, very high level."
Bucknell’s Jackson Place was named third team preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Magazine. Place ranks second in Division I in caused turnovers per game and leads Bucknell with 25 caused turnovers this season. No other Bison player has more than 11 caused turnovers this year. He has led the team in caused turnovers in all but one game this season. The 18-8 victory against Holy Cross on March 15 saw Place cause a season-high six turnovers. Topping that, Place is second on the team with 27 groundballs.
Joseph Lisicky is in his first year with the Virginia Cavaliers after playing four seasons at Division III Lynchburg College. Despite not starting a single game for Virginia this season, Lisicky leads the team with 13 caused turnovers. He has also collected 28 groundballs, second most on the team.
"He's got a nose for the ball," Virginia Head Coach Dom Starsia said of Lisicky. "He's a physical force. You can understand why he was a dominant player in Division III. He's not built like those guys. He's built like one of our guys."
The Machine drafted O’Hara and Place in the 2014 MLL Collegiate Draft. Lisicky was drafted in 2013 while still playing for Lynchburg. With players like O’Hara, Place and Lisicky, the Machine’s defensive future looks to be in solid hands.