Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
April 11: Army; May 2: at Air Force
For the first time since the 2003 season, Navy will play both Air Force and Army in the same season. That's . . . that's kind of nuts. It's been 11 years since the Mids saw both the Falcons and Black Knights on their calendar in the same year, a fact that doesn't seem to align with reality. And yet, that's the truth: Unlike Army -- which has faced Navy and Air Force at least once in 11 of the last 15 seasons -- the Mids haven't been able to wedge both the Knights and Falcons into their yearly campaign, a somewhat disappointing situation given the unique nature of the service academies and what inter-academy competition looks and feels like.
This raises an important question: What needs to happen for lacrosse to have its own version of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy? The last time that the triangular series happened in lacrosse was in 2003, a season in which each program went 1-1 against its service academy rivals (Army beat Air Force, Air Force beat Navy, and Navy beat Army). 11 seasons have passed without a true round robin between college lacrosse's service academies, a blind spot for a sport that has not only embraced its service academy participants but has seen those schools excel at college lacrosse's highest level of competition. Patriot League responsibilities for Army and Navy obviously limit each program's nonconference opportunities, but an annual or biennial round robin with Air Force would increase the heat around the three programs.
Can't Derp, Won't Derp
February 8: VMI; February 28: at Holy Cross; March 10: at Lafayette; March 28: Boston University
Those were Navy's four wins last season. That's it; that's the list. Falling to any of these teams in 2015 would be a massive moment of underachievement for the Mids, eroding necessary opportunities to build foundational wins as Navy attempts to string together victories against higher-grade competition that eluded the Midshipmen a season ago. These dates must serve as a core wins for Navy next spring if the team hopes to improve on its win total from a season ago (even if the team's 4-10 record did not align with the actual ability of the Midshipmen in 2014).
February 21: Bucknell; March 14: Lehigh; March 21: at Colgate; April 4: at Loyola; April 11: Army
These are season-defining games for Navy next year, even if bigger names like Johns Hopkins and Maryland dot the team's slate. Running over Holy Cross, Lafayette, and Boston University should assure the Mids of a trip to the Patriot League Tournament, but simply pulling into the tournament as the league's lowest seeded team doesn't make Navy's pursuit of increased capacity any easier: Even as the six-seed, navigating through teams with high ceilings requires the Midshipmen to exceed their prior performances against opponents that are presumably playing their best ball of the season. Instead of meandering through that situation, finding ways to yank victories from this subset of five conference peers would massively assist Navy in its developmental arc. These are the games that will show the Midshipmen's volition; these are the games that create or erase opportunity.