PROGRAM SCHEDULE PROPAGANDA: UNRELEASED
THIS IS WHY WE FIGHT: THE SCHEDULE
It appears as if NJIT -- one of Division I's two new programs this coming spring (and there can be only one!) -- will play a truncated 2015 slate. The Highlanders' athletic director hinted at the possibility of playing an abbreviated slate of opponents this year as an independent, and those circumstances seem to have come to fruition (although, I wouldn't be shocked if NJIT added another game or two). Rushing at college lacrosse's highest level is an intense experience, and NJIT has seemingly found a route that works in the context of what the Highlanders are seeking to put together.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
Someone Must Win
March 7: Massachusetts-Lowell
There is no possible way -- short of the Earth spinning into the sun and canceling lacrosse on March 7, 2014 -- that Massachusetts-Lowell and NJIT will both finish with winless freshman campaigns. The meeting between the two teams in early March will provide Division I's freshest faces with an opportunity to smash each other into dust, a chance to drink from the Gatorade jug of victory.
Only four teams in the last five years have suffered through a season of perfect defeat -- Monmouth (2014), St. Joseph's (2011), Wagner (2011), and Providence (2010) -- with only one of those clubs doing so in their first tour through college lacrosse's bone-crusher. Avoiding a degree of ignominy is preferable, if only to create a sense of volition in the context of wins and losses memorialized in a record book. No team should suffocate under a totality of defeats, and the Highlanders and River Hawks have a chance to ensure at least a minimum moment of happiness inures to their favor in the teams' head-to-head throwdown.
These Are My People
March 7: Massachusetts-Lowell; March 17: Monmouth; March 23: at Richmond
These three teams have played -- in their entire combined histories -- a total of 30 Division I games. Duke played 20 games last year and Bryant pulled on their pads 21 times in 2014. Looking into the mirror and challenging yourself has value, even if it doesn't register nationally. Programs have to start somewhere, and NJIT has used about 30 percent of their schedule to test themselves against teams that found their genesis at about the same time as the Highlanders. Climbing the rungs on the ladder starts for NJIT with these three dates.
March 17: Monmouth; March 20: at Rutgers
New Jersey will claim ownership of four Division I lacrosse programs in 2015: NJIT, Monmouth, Rutgers, and Princeton. That's a solid core of programs in a state that produces talent but only maintained two high-level programs prior to the 2014 season. What's especially interesting about the state's Division I lacrosse population is that it offers varying degrees of circumstances: The Tigers have an Ivy League pedigree; the Hawks run in the MAAC and create a different level of event drive; and the Scarlet Knights are altering their focus toward whatever Big Ten lacrosse will become. NJIT will fit into this matrix somewhere, and its station and purpose will focus as the Highlanders start to jab their opponents from their home jurisdiction.