VMI put together its most win-conducive slate in years, an agenda that promotes chasing victories against similarly-situated programs as the Keydets attempt to move past a difficult 2013 campaign.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
March 5: Vermont; March 8: @High Point; March 15: @Mercer; March 18: Wagner; April 12: Furman; April 26: Richmond
The Keydets haven't won six games since the 2008 season, a campaign that saw VMI put six wins on the board against 10 losses. Since then, the Keydets haven't approached that high watermark, winning just seven games -- total -- in the last three years (while assuming 33 losses). VMI is in a tough spot relative to the national landscape and the results that the Keydets have experienced are indicative of that. In 2014, though, there are tons of opportunities for the struggling program to experience a little bit of the victory that has eluded Lexington: Six dates exist against competitively comparable programs. Now, that doesn't mean that VMI is assured of wins in these games or that the Keydets will enter the half-dozen dates as a favorite (this is a program that has had an impossibly difficult time climbing from Division I's crab bucket), but the fact remains that VMI loaded up half of its 2014 agenda with opponents with notable warts. For the Keydets, the quality of the wins matter less than the Keydets learning how to win again after a 1-12 effort in 2013 that saw VMI start its season with 11 straight losses (only one of those losses was by fewer than four goals). VMI has to start somewhere, and the schedule is at least conducive to creating some momentum.
A New Way
March 8: @High Point; March 15: @Mercer; April 5: @Jacksonville; April 12: Furman; April 26: Richmond
VMI's last foray into a postseason conference tournament was also its first and only endeavor: In 2008, the Keydets went 4-4 in league play, earning the four-seed in the MAAC Tournament, and eventually falling to Canisius in the tournament final after pulling an overtime upset of top-seeded Providence in the semifinals. This isn't the kind of pedigree you necessarily look for as a bridge to a new environment, but there is something about VMI's membership in the MAAC that doesn’t quite translate to what the Keydets may provide in the Atlantic Sun: VMI was always an outsider to the MAAC's core; aligned with geographically-similar schools in a competitively similar environment, VMI has a new opportunity to erase its uneven history and start anew. With the exception of Jacksonville -- which looks like the Atlantic Sun's prohibitive favorite -- VMI has a puncher's chance to cause havoc and play some bonus lacrosse in 2014. The Keydets may need a shot of adrenaline to do so, but there are favorable circumstances for VMI for the first time in forever. Whether the Keydets are able to take advantage of these opportunities is unclear, but opportunities exist and that's the most important thing.