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Lafayette Lacrosse Schedule: Stalking Wins

Can the Leopards buck some ugly history in 2015?

PROGRAM SCHEDULE PROPAGANDAPRESS RELEASE
THIS IS WHY WE FIGHTTHE SCHEDULE

Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:

Targets Hot
February 13: at Wagner; March 3: Pennsylvania; March 17: at Sacred Heart; March 27: at UMBC; March 31: Monmouth; April 7: NJIT

Lafayette is a woeful 10-42 (19.23 percent) over the last four seasons, a mark that includes two two-win campaigns and two three-win efforts. The Leopards, however, have secured most of their success in the non-conference portion of their schedules, balancing a 2-24 (7.14 percent) record against league opponents since 2011 with an 8-18 (30.77 percent) mark against opponents residing in a conference that isn't quite as freedom-loving and British Empire-hating as the Patriot League. Yet, even those wins aren't filled with balloon animals and the smiles of children: The average record of a non-conference opponent that Lafayette has beaten in the last four seasons is 3-11, the average LaxPower ranking of those vanquished opponents is 53rd,  three wins have come against Wagner, and the team has secured exactly two victories against an opponent that made their conference tournament in the year they fell to the Leopards -- Georgetown in 2013 and Binghamton in 2011 (both were the final seeds in their respective conference tournaments).

With the team relying on non-conference opportunities to generate wins (and those wins being difficult for Lafayette to corral), an odd level of importance is placed on the team's out-of-conference slate in 2015. The Leopards will have six dates against non-Patriot League opponents, a half-dozen opportunities to gain the momentum that Jim Rogalski is chasing in his third season in Easton. Two of these games look like long stretches for Lafayette to make a charge -- defeating UMBC and Pennsylvania would mark notable upsets for the Leopards -- but four other games are potential opportunities for Lafayette to almost match the program's win total over the last two seasons: Sacred Heart, Monmouth, and Wagner averaged a 62nd ranking in LaxPower's 2014 ratings and NJIT is storming through Division I lacrosse for the first time ever in 2015. If the Leopards can find some sustenance in this part of its campaign, the program could have a lil' steam in their engine.

The Struggle
February 21: at Colgate; February 28: at Army; March 10: Navy; March 14: at Boston University; March 22: v. Loyola; April 4: Holy Cross; April 11: v. Bucknell; April 17: at Lehigh

Lafayette has averaged a 1-5 record in Patriot League play over the last 10 seasons and holds the same average mark over the last five years. The Leopards have consistently struggled to play to the level of their conference peers, only once earning a .500 record in Patriot League competition since 2005 -- a 3-3 effort in 2010 -- and finishing with one win or fewer against conference foes in eight of the past 10 seasons. In the program's 10 wins since 2005, the Leopards' victories have come against teams with an average LaxPower ranking of 40th nationally, only three of which -- Colgate in 2014 and Navy and Bucknell in 2010 -- finished the year in the top half of LaxPower's year-end ratings.

Further illustrating Lafayette's struggles in the Patriot League is how the Leopards have secured victories in its 10 conference wins since 2005: Lafayette has averaged a 10-8 margin of victory in those games with eight games decided by three goals or less (six games were decided by a single goal). The Leopards have had a hard time beating "meh" competition, and when they have, Lafayette has done so by the slimmest of margins.

2015 is going to be an important moment for the Leopards in the Patriot League. The conference is only getting tougher and Lafayette has not made a move in the league since a surprising effort in 2010 that saw the Leopards shock everyone with a working nut in their skull en route to the three-seed in the Patriot League Tournament. Victories are out there for the Leopards -- Holy Cross is in transition under Judd Lattimore; Boston University will enter only its second year of existence this coming spring; the league is prone to disaster in the middle of its table; etc. -- but Lafayette needs to kick some history in order to start to develop a clearer picture of what its conference future holds.