Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
February 14: Mount St Mary's; March 17: at Wagner; April 11: at Furman; April 26: v. Massachusetts-Lowell
VMI is a really tough place to win. The last time that the team finished with a record of at least .500 was in 2005 and the program hasn't been north of the .500 mark since 2000 (the program claims only eight winning seasons in 32 years of competition). The last five seasons for the Keydets have been especially gruesome: An aggregate 11-58 record (averaging a 2-12 mark in each year) with an average margin of defeat of five goals per game has yielded only one win against a team that finished the season above .500 (Air Force in 2014); the average record of the opponents that VMI has beaten over this stretch is 4-10.
The momentum the Keydets are attempting to build isn't structured around conference championships and slugging power teams in the mouth. Rather, it's about improving and finding some combustion. Four wins -- a feat that the program last achieved in 2012 -- is a reasonable mark for VMI to shoot for, and the team's schedule is conducive to finding those wins. Dates against the Mountaineers, Seahawks, Paladins, and River Hawks will test the Keydets -- there are no guaranteed wins on the team's schedule -- but they do stand as the best opportunities that VMI has to bucket some wins in an otherwise difficult schedule. No program should suffer through extended years of two-win lacrosse -- the Keydets, over the last 20 seasons, have averaged a 4-10 finish and over the last 15 seasons the program has averaged a 3-10 record (the team's competition in portions of the last 15-20 years, though, did feature a host of lower-division opponents) -- and seeing the Keydets pop four victories together in the same year would provide some much needed good feelings for a program that hasn't had many in recent years.
February 8: at Navy; February 9: at Army; March 7: at Richmond; March 8: v. Air Force
Back-to-back games is a rarity among Division I lacrosse teams these days. Outside of conference tournaments, there are only a handful of teams that have the desire to play two games in two days. (I am still waiting for a program to sign itself up for a day-night doubleheader. Ain't no party like a I-can-no-longer-stand-because-my-legs-are-jelly party.) The Keydets last played back-to-back competition dates in 2014, losing to Detroit on Saturday and stunning Air Force in Lexington on Sunday. Doing it twice in one season -- Duke is doing it as well, but the Devils are a different kind of deal than VMI -- is somewhat insane, even if it did benefit the Keydets a season ago.
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February 9: at Army; March 24: Virginia
VMI has beaten one ranked team -- Duke in 2005 (ranked 13th) -- in the Keydets' history. In 2015, VMI will face two teams that are ranked in the top 20 of Inside Lacrosse's Face-Off Yearbook. Can the Keydets double their win total against the nation's best?