Since Ryan Curtis took over the Vermont program in 2007, the Catamounts are 28-75 and have endured six double-digit loss campaigns. It's a good thing that Ben & Jerry's is based out of Vermont so that Catamount fans can eat their feelings. There are a lot of reasons for Vermont's struggles over the last seven years, but the fact that the Catamounts haven't sniffed .500 since 2006 -- when Vermont went 9-6 -- remains the driving force behind Curtis' need to create a 2014 schedule conducive to at least a handful of wins and creating some forward momentum from a wins and losses perspective (even if the Catamounts are only playing five home games).
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
A Five Game Winning Streak?
March 1: @Boston University; March 5: @VMI; March 8: @Richmond; March 15: @Wagner; March 22: Sacred Heart
Vermont hasn't won three games in a row against Division I competition since 2006 when the Catamounts dropped Wagner, Quinnipiac, and Siena in consecutive games in mid-March of that year. Not only do the Catamounts have an opportunity to match that feat in 2014, Vermont has a chance to string five consecutive wins together while dancing in their Birkenstocks: Boston University and Richmond are entering their first seasons of Division I play; VMI was one of the worst teams in Division I lacrosse this past season and shouldn't be significantly improved in 2014; and the Catamounts dropped Wagner and Sacred Heart a year ago. These aren't guarantee games for Vermont (this is, after all, a Catamounts team that is listing 24 underclassmen on their 41-man roster), but Vermont should at least play competitively in these contests. The implication of these five schools dotting the Catamounts' schedule is clear: We're looking for wins and to climb out of the crab bucket. This is either going to work out extremely well for Vermont or present disaster.
February 15: @Colgate; February 22: Providence; February 25: Dartmouth
First: The trip to Hamilton to face the Raiders has SPRING SPORT! written all over it. In the dead of winter in Central New York, the only issue is whether the snow will be measured in inches or feet. Happy Day After Valentine's Day! Grab a shovel!
Second: Vermont is going to enter these three games as underdogs (and they come back-to-back-to-back on the schedule), but each game presents a reasonable out-of-conference opportunity. Maybe Vermont catches Colgate frozen to the core and steals one early in the season? Maybe Providence regresses from their huge development in 2013 and the Catamounts find themselves in a competitive game? Maybe Dartmouth has a brain fart looking forward to their Ivy League schedule? Then again, maybe Vermont loses -- in the aggregate -- 20-39 to these three teams in consecutive games just as the Catamounts did in 2013. It all depends whether you're looking at the glass of gasoline half-full or half-empty, and whether you've already contacted the paramedics to have your stomach pumped.
March 29: Albany
Vermont's America East campaign is localized to the team's final five games, but it starts out in probably the most difficult fashion possible: Opening with Albany, a team poised to ruin everything for lots of opponents in 2014. That's just mean and I'm not sure who in the America East home office Vermont angered. The only way this could have been worse for the Catamounts is if the conference schedule featured Stony Brook and UMBC immediately following their date with Albany (Vermont will travel to face the Seawolves the week after facing the Great Danes, but don't draw the Retrievers until the end of the season). Regardless, the Catamounts will likely need to work from a hole right at the top of their league effort, and that's not great for creating forward volition.