High Point's schedule for 2014 looks somewhat different than the slate the Panthers played in 2013, but an important facet remains: There is solid balance in the 15 games that High Point will play this coming spring. The out-of-conference schedule features a couple of hammers, a few mid-tier barometers, and a handful of competitively-equal programs; the conference slate is comprised entirely of peer programs, which should benefit High Point immediately. Jon Torpey approached this schedule with a reasonableness that will allow the Panthers to grow, and that's the most important thing.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
Ring of Fire
April 15: Duke; April 18: North Carolina; April 26: Drexel
In a span of 10 days, the Panthers will play three of the strongest offensive teams in the nation. Not only that, High Point is going to be ducking tracer fire from these three teams at the apex of the college lacrosse season, when identities are concrete and chemistry is approaching its point of stability. This is a taste of the big time, an opportunity for a second-year program to see what the elite of Division I is capable of accomplishing. The Panthers get all three programs at home -- which should make for solid draws at the gate -- but that doesn't mitigate the fact that High Point is probably going to endure a week-and-a-half of hardcore soul-crushing. This . . . this is hoping that a body riddled with holes from laser cannons isn't fatal.
February 15: St. Joseph's; February 22: @Sacred Heart; March 5: Michigan
This is where the Panthers potentially make some money. Scheduling peer programs -- in terms of competitiveness -- is important, and while High Point did knock off Towson last season and gave Delaware a mild stroke, the Panthers are better positioned to engage Gatorade baths against the Hawks (which could be a difficult out this season with the return of Ryan McGee), Pioneers (which are transitioning under Jon Basti), and Wolverines (which are going to be improved in 2014 but are still finding their place in Division I). If the Panthers can grab two wins out of these three games High Point should be in great shape to exceed its three-win total from a season ago.
Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
March 1: Jacksonville; March 8: VMI; March 22: Mercer; March 29: @Furman; April 12: @Richmond
The Panthers could board a rocket ship destined for points unknown in the galaxy during Atlantic Sun play, potentially setting itself up for a trip to the NCAA Tournament in just its second season of Division I adventuring. The only game in the league that High Point is likely an underdog is against Jacksonville -- the Panthers are, at a minimum, on par with VMI, Mercer, and the conference's two freshman programs (Furman and Richmond). No matter what happens in the rest of High Point's season, if the Panthers come correct in the Atlantic Sun regular season and enter May with a steeled experience, High Point could receive an invitation to The Big Barbecue.