Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
The Ol' One-Two
February 7: Duke; February 10: at North Carolina
The upside of being located in North Carolina? Close proximity to the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, making it a no-brainer to schedule yearly dates with the two elite programs. The downside of being located in North Carolina? Close proximity to the Blue Devils and Tar Heels, making shots to the mouth from your neighbors a fun adventure. In the Panthers' short history, High Point is 0-3 against these two schools with an average margin of defeat of nine goals (it should be noted, though, that the Panthers only lost to the Heels by four goals last season after suffering double-digit losses to Duke and Carolina in 2013).
These are obviously reach games for High Point -- it's kind of like applying to Harvard even though your grade point average in high school was "Ham Sandwich" -- but they are opportunities to taste cultured society (even if that taste is metallic because you're bleeding from your face). The state counts only three Division I teams, and playing a yearly round-robin between the state's competing members is good for college lacrosse in a jurisdiction where the game is itching to grow.
SERIOUSLY?! I MEAN, SERIOUSLY?!
February 1: Delaware
February 1st. February-f******-first.
All kinds of great things have happened on February 1st: The United States Supreme Court convened for the first time on February 1, 1790; Texas seceded from the United States on February 1, 1861 (I still don't think we should have let them back in); Roman Polanski skipped bail on February 1, 1978, and fled to Europe (we should take him back and hang him); and Janet Jackson's boob popped out on national television on February 1, 2004. Importantly, none of those things involve playing lacrosse on the first day of a month that should be renamed "Terrible."
March 14: at Mercer; March 28: Furman; April 4: at Jacksonville; April 11: Richmond; April 18: at VMI; April 25: Bellarmine
High Point was thisclose to progressing to a monster May adventure last season. The Panthers were the class of the Atlantic Sun in 2014 -- based on metrics that attempt to address the relative strength of teams throughout Division I -- and spit a flat at the least optimal time of the year in their Atlantic Sun Tournament final against Richmond. This coming season provides great promise for the Panthers' program: A third year of growth should offer High Point a prime position in the Southern Conference, platforming High Point well to pursue an invitation to The Big Barbeque.
The alternating home-road aspect of High Point's league slate stands out, but there's something interesting about where potential relief sits: An early trip to Mercer could give the Panthers a test, but High Point immediately follows that with a home date with Furman; Jacksonville and Richmond will press High Point, but VMI stands in the short horizon from those two games; and a closing date of Bellarmine gives the Panthers one last shot to improve their seed or play their way into the tournament. There's a rhythm to this schedule that appears conducive to success.