Tre Leclaire was just a freshman when Ohio State advanced to the NCAA championship game in 2017. The Buckeyes gave the favored Maryland team a run for its money before falling 9-6 on Memorial Day.
Leclaire stepped onto the field as a talented freshman with a bright future. He took part in the Gillette Stadium practices, the press conferences, the pageantry of Memorial Day. From that point on, he’s known the potential of this Ohio State program.
“Me, Jeff and Ryan reflect on that every day — we still feel what it was like to step onto that field at Gillette Stadium,” he said. “We want that again for this team. We had that taste and that feeling stays in your mind when you’re working. That’s the fuel to our fire right now.”
Now almost four years later, Leclaire is playing the role of senior leader for an Ohio State team that feels it can reach Memorial Day once again. He and fellow fifth-year seniors Ryan Terefenko and Jeff Henrick are the only remaining players from that day in 2017, and they’re eager to end their Buckeye careers in the same game.
After two seasons in which Ohio State narrowly missed the NCAA tournament, coach Nick Myers and a large senior class have their eyes set on ending that streak.
“They’ve experienced the process and what a fine line it is between final four weekend and being on the outside of the NCAA tournament,” Myers said of the fifth-year seniors. “They’ve come to appreciate just focusing on the work and not getting too consumed with the outcome one way or another. We know we want Big Ten championships and championship weekends.”
The chemistry that will allow the Buckeyes to reenter the national conversation starts in a townhome off the campus of Ohio State. Leclaire, Henrick, Terenfenko and three other teammates live there together during the school year — the fifth-year trio going on their fourth year being roommates.
At the house, the competition is just a fierce as it would be on the lacrosse field. The teammates duel on the basketball hoop in the driveway, during “Call of Duty” raids and in the living room over who gets the remote control.
“We’re so competitive with each other,” Leclaire said. “From video games to who’s in the kitchen first, it’s always a competition. Nothing but good times with those two guys.”
Adding Hofstra transfer defenseman Eric Wenz and Furman transfer goalie Alec Van De Bovenkamp, the Ohio State lacrosse house is full of veterans who are ready to end their careers on a high note. They routinely join underclassmen on Zoom calls and FaceTimes, trying to develop the chemistry during a pandemic that has restricted face-to-face meetings.
The seniors understand the importance of continuing the culture set forth by previous senior classes — including the one that reached final four weekend. Before Leclaire, Terefenko and Henrick — all of them NLL draft picks — head off to promising professional careers, they have unfinished business in 2021.
“We remember that game and everything that came with it,” Leclaire said of 2017. “That’s the fuel to our fire right now.”
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