2013 College Lacrosse Preview: Reverse Survivor is Beauty on the Inside

Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

The race is about to begin for the last Division I team to win a game against another Division I opponent.

Focus: Reverse Survivor doesn't knock the effort; every team out there tries to maximum ability, and all teams should be commended for that. (In fact, there isn't a team in Division I lacrosse that would have ever taken my scrubby lacrosse talents, which means that every single person in the cohort is a thousand times the player I was or will ever become (as a 30+ year-old).) As such, Reverse Survivor is merely an incarnation of the agony of defeat, highlighting the fact that losing is a miserable circumstance despite continued effort. You can't describe the sweet until you understand the sour.

To win Reverse Survivor -- a challenge that crowns the last Division I team to win a game against another Division I opponent (if a team wins one at all) -- a series of circumstances need to come together: A bad start to the season, being relatively bad generally helps, a schedule that is full of gut-wrenching losses and few "gimmie games," and an absolute distaste for Gatorade baths. Contending for Reverse Survivor honors isn't easy; as they say, "Every dog has it's day!" but in order to become the last team to drink from the cup of sweet victory, a team needs to keep that dog on its leash and, like, diss the pup from morning 'til night.

This spring -- like all springs -- should provide an interesting Reverse Survivor narrative. Wagner, the two-time defending Reverse Survivor champion (sharing the honor with St. Joseph's in 2011), looks to complete the three-peat in pure Seahawks style: Begrudgingly, causing oppressive empathy from the whole of Division I lacrosse. There are challengers to Wagner's title hopes, however, and this is far from a slam dunk for the Seahawks.

Here are the three strongest Reverse Survivor competitors, some dark horse candidates, and some games of note that should factor into the overall race. Please remember: As first year programs, High Point and Marquette aren't eligible for Reverse Survivor in 2012; I do have a heart, after all.

CONTENDERS
Wagner
Arguably the worst team in Division I entering 2013, the Seahawks are your clubhouse leader for Reverse Survivor this spring. Wagner will have some early opportunities to potentially throw a victory parade where live Seahawks will be sacrificed to the university's God of Victory -- Seahawkian the Great -- but the odds are in Wagner's favor that a victory may not come before April. The Seahawks needed to wait until April 16th last season for its first win, an 11-8 defeat of Sacred Heart that snapped a 721-day streak that was devoid of a Wagner victory.

Mercer
In a year of transition from Jason Childs to Kyle Hannan, things aren't looking so hot for some early Bears victories. There are two Division II games that should merit Mercer some wins, but Reverse Survivor looks at those games with squinty eyes that challenge the reality of the situation. Luckily for Mercer, two things could mitigate the Bears' participation in Reverse Survivor: (1) The schedule isn't stuffed with impossible games, allowing some chances for victory (even early in the season); and (2) A last gasp game against VMI in April could keep the Bears away from face-palm perfection (a winless season against Division I competition).

VMI
The Keydets were the beneficiary of Wagner's ineptitude last year, pulling itself out of Reverse Survivor contention in mid-March with a 12-11 overtime victory over the Seahawks. (VMI went on to win two more games, but needed to wait until early-April to get its second against Manhattan). This year stacks up similarly for the Keydets, and if they can't drop Wagner relatively early in the year VMI may need to wait until mid- to late-April to pop the celebratory Evian bottles.

OTHERS OF NOTE
Holy Cross: There aren't a lot of games on the schedule where the Crusaders will be favored or otherwise matched against a competitive peer.

Michigan: Same problem as Holy Cross, with the only game -- right now -- where the Wolverines will be favored is against High Point.

Binghamton: Won't be favored in a game until mid-March against Manhattan.

Vermont: There are potential wins on the schedule, but not until March 16th when Wagner comes to town.

GAMES OF NOTE

  • Providence at Wagner -- February 15: A post-Valentine's Day love letter to Reverse Survivor.
  • Michigan at High Point -- March 6: Michigan is skydiving with only one parachute.
  • Mercer at Wagner -- March 9: Somebody needs to win (unless this is the day that the Earth is overtaken by our future robot overlords).
  • VMI at Wagner -- March 12: I'm calling it now: Sixteen overtimes and the children of the world will come together and sing for the victor.
  • High Point at Mercer -- March 31: This game deserves a dance party.
  • Mercer at VMI -- April 14: The last train out of Everything is on Fire Station.
  • Manhattan at VMI -- April 20: Ay-yi-yi.

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