"Hartford, Connecticut: Des Moines, Iowa for people that don't believe the Midwest exists."
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
Ye Olde Opponents
February 22: Bryant; March 5: @Brown; March 12: Quinnipiac; March 15: @Sacred Heart; March 22: @Massachusetts; March 25: Holy Cross; April 8: Dartmouth; April 19: Vermont
Including Hartford, there are 14 Division I teams in New England; that constitutes about 21 percent of the cohort's membership. It's impossible for a New England program to compose a schedule that features only New England schools -- unless, of course, a team lights a bag of feces in the foyer of its conference's offices and plays as an independent -- but the Hawks have come pretty close to achieving Ye Olde Singularity: In 2014, Hartford will play eight of New England's non-Hartford lacrosse teams. That volume of extreme Northeast flavor should come with mandatory clambake tailgates and the eradication of the proper pronunciation of the letter "r." What's especially impressive about this concentration of chowderhead programs is that only one opponent -- Vermont -- is a mandatory inclusion on the Hawks' agenda; the remaining seven old money legacies are nonconference affairs, tea party opportunities for Hartford to make plans for Cape Cod excursions and to rue the fall of Newport from its place among high society. Regionally-relevant agendas are somewhat forgotten in contemporary Division I lacrosse, but the Hawks have managed to assemble a slate that digs its heels squarely into the nation's birthplace.
March 29: Binghamton; April 5: Albany; April 12: @UMBC; April 19: Vermont; April 25: @Stony Brook
Hartford has established itself as an America East Tournament fixture, but the Hawks haven't had an entirely easy time moving through the league's regular season over the last three seasons despite finishing each campaign with identical 3-2 records. Hartford has taken care of business against Vermont (the Hawks are unbeaten against the Catamounts since 2011), UMBC (the Hawks are 2-1 against the Retrievers in the regular season since 2011), and Binghamton (the Hawks are 2-1 against the Bearcats in the regular season since 2011), but have struggled to figure out Albany and Stony Brook in the last three years (Hartford is just 2-4 against these two programs since 2011, falling to both in 2013). Becoming a fixture as the conference's third or fourth best team is a difficult position to sit in, and unless Hartford can take an important step forward and consistently compete against the Great Danes and Seawolves (while also exerting a measure of ownership over Binghamton, UMBC, and Vermont), the Hawks' fate in the America East remains somewhat static. (Admittedly, Hartford won the America East Tournament in 2011 after avenging a regular season loss to Stony Brook in the conference postseason finals.) This issue is compounded by the fact that the strength of the league has arguably risen in recent seasons with the development of Albany, Stony Brook's dalliance with high-end relevancy in the recent past, and the potential that exists at UMBC and Binghamton. This is an important league campaign for the Hawks in 2014, and how Hartford moves through its conference schedule is valuable in defining the program's position in the league's landscape.