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Sacred Heart Lacrosse Schedule: Make It Plain

The names look the same as last season, but the stakes are a little different in 2015 for Sacred Heart.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE PROPAGANDA: PRESS RELEASE
THIS IS WHY WE FIGHT: THE SCHEDULE

Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:

You Kind of Look Familiar
March 17: Lafayette; March 31: at Yale

The Pioneers swapped out Holy Cross and Stony Brook from their 2014 schedule for Lafayette and Yale, otherwise maintaining the overall slate that the program played a season ago. Whether these new additions will increase Sacred Heart's overall strength of schedule is unclear at the moment (adding the Bulldogs, though, does provide a discrete moment of pop that was missing in the team's campaign last year), but something does focus with the presence of Yale and Lafayette on the team's schedule: The Pioneers will have an opportunity to develop some more history with two programs that Sacred Heart has not created long relationships with.

The Pios are 4-1 against the Leopards all time and haven't met Lafayette since 2003. The two teams have generally had tight meetings, with four of the contests settled with a three-goal or fewer margin on the scoreboard (Sacred Heard holds an average 2.6 margin of victory against the 'Pards). Contrastingly, the Pioneers are 1-2 all time against the Elis, earning the program's only victory against Yale in 2012. Sacred Heart holds an almost six-goal average margin of defeat against their Connecticut neighbors, struggling to keep pace with Handsome Dan in two of the three meetings between the two schools.

These could be fun dates for the Pioneers to throw hands with teams that they haven't had a chance to challenge in the program's history.

Stay Handsome
March 21: Robert Morris; March 28: at Mount St. Mary's; April 4: Hobart; April 8: at Bryant; April 18: at Wagner; April 25: St. Joseph's

The Northeast Conference has held four postseason tournaments and, after being locked out of the first two iterations of the event, Sacred Heart has surged over the last two seasons, earning bids in both 2013 and 2014. The Pioneers have -- rightly or wrongly -- changed expectations about the program relative to the rest of its league, and there is some pressure on Sacred Heart to continue its recent success in the NEC despite the conference finding new degrees of competitiveness.

The Pioneers are going to need to summit a difficult apex in 2015 in the program hopes to continue its recent league success: With Hobart, Bryant, and St. Joseph's residing at the tail-end of the team's NEC campaign, Sacred Heart will need to both drop predators on the way to April while also taking care of business against Wagner in Staten Island to ensure a closing stretch of value. There is little room for error in the way the Pioneers' league slate lines up this coming spring.

Shadowcasting
March 4: at Dartmouth; March 7: at Providence; March 14: Vermont; March 31: at Yale; April 8: at Bryant; April 14: at Hartford

It's hard to find a place in New England lacrosse. Fighting for relevance against 14 other schools with mailing addresses in the nation's tightest region is a difficult task, one that more often than not leaves programs in the shadows despite moments that demand greater importance. With almost half of the Pioneers' schedule dotted with New England opponents in 2015, Sacred Heart has a chance to carve out a more prominent position in the region's lacrosse hierarchy.