Steve Manitta is just 9-21 in his two seasons as Manhattan's admiral, but despite that record the head coach has seemingly discovered the antidote to losing to Marist: The Jaspers are 2-0 against the Red Foxes over the last two seasons, victories that constitute half of Manhattan's MAAC wins in the same period. It's the nature of those triumphs, though, that is especially interesting: The Jaspers were a three-goal underdog to Marist -- according to LaxPower -- in 2014 but earned a 14-13 win; the site had Manhattan as a five-goal 'dog to the Red Foxes in 2013 and the Jaspers yanked out a 14-12 victory in Riverdale. It's unclear what those results mean -- it's possible that it means absolutely nothing -- but it's still an odd wrinkle in otherwise tough seasons for the Bronx's only Division I team.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
Get a Bindle and Go, Man
February 7: at Stony Brook; February 14: at Princeton; February 24: at Hofstra; February 28: at Hartford; March 27: at North Carolina; March 18: at Delaware; March 21: at Brown; March 28: at Detroit; April 11: at Siena; April 25: at Monmouth
Manhattan will play 15 times in the 2015 regular season with 10 of those games happening on the road. Three of those away dates are mandatory MAAC meetings, but the other seven are the residue of chasing competition. Luckily, the vast majority of the Jaspers' nonconference road games are manageable bus trips: Stony Brook and Hofstra are short drives on the metro area's congested highways; the team could take the damn commuter rail to Princeton if they wanted to; Hartford and Brown are only an hour or two to the north and east of Riverdale; and Delaware is far from a brutal journey from The Bronx. The only painful travel among these nonconference road games is the team's jaunt to Chapel Hill, but with no midweek games happening prior to or immediately after the trip to barbecue country, Manhattan will deal with a doable situation.
While the team is going to see a lot of the country as a blur though a bus window, this could have been much worse for the Jaspers.
Custer Had a Plan, Too
February 14: at Princeton; February 21: Fairfield; February 24: at Hofstra; March 7: at North Carolina
"I'm positive that our competitive non-conference 2014 schedule put us in a position to compete for a MAAC Tournament bid last year," Manitta said. "When you're playing the Tar Heels, Tigers and Stags, your shortcomings will be right out there for the world to see. This schedule, like last year's, allows the coaches and players to recognize where we need work, and put emphasis on those areas not only on the field, but in our athletic development and recruiting efforts moving forward."
The average LaxPower ranking of these teams last season was 15.5. Against three of these four teams last season (the Jaspers did not face Hofstra last spring), Manhattan went 0-3 with an aggregate goal differential of -36 with an average margin of defeat of 12 goals. If Manitta truly wants to find out how his team reacts to massive adversity, he's going to get what he wants.
Two Weeks of Torture
March 14: Canisius; March 28: at Detroit; April 4: Quinnipiac; April 11: at Siena; April 18: Marist; April 25: at Monmouth
As last season proved, getting to 3-3 in the MAAC -- one of the most balanced leagues in the nation from a competitive standpoint -- is enough to become part of the conversation around participating in the MAAC Tournament. That mark isn't a guarantee for having a May adventure (as the Jaspers learned last year), but it still is the key to potentially making a move. Opening with Canisius and Detroit is beneficial for Manhattan, yet it's the closing date -- a trip to Monmouth -- that creates circumstances conducive to striking a final death blow that could push the Jaspers into a postseason situation.