Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
Kick His Ass, Seabass
February 17: Wagner; March 17: at NJIT; March 31: at Lafayette; April 25: Manhattan
Monmouth suffered through a winless campaign in 2014, the program's first tour through the hyper-destructive atmosphere of Division I lacrosse. The Hawks' 0-13 push was the first winless campaign that Division I lacrosse has witnessed since St. Joseph's and Wagner put together simultaneous 0-12 records in 2011 (Mercer failed to defeat a Division I opponent in their first season in 2011, beating only Carthage in their maiden voyage to earn a 1-12 record). Losing is less than optimal, and losing 13 straight games is the kind of less-than-optimal that involves a bus filled with nitroglycerin being driven through a factory already engulfed in flames. No team deserves ugly perfection, the spectrum pole that stands opposite to relaxing in a hot tub filled with champagne.
Four teams dot the Hawks' schedule in 2015 that look like reasonable opportunities for victories -- home games against Wagner and Manhattan and trips to NJIT and Lafayette. Three of the four teams resided between 60th and 67th in LaxPower's final 2014 ratings and the Hawks have some history with those programs: Monmouth and Wagner played a brutal -- and that's putting it lightly -- four-overtime slugfest on Staten Island in February of last season; the Hawks played a solid first 31:30 against Lafayette before giving up a four-goal burst from the Leopards that sealed the win for Lafayette; and Monmouth was within one of Manhattan at the half before seeing its offense shot into the far reaches of space in the second half. These are good things for the Hawks even if they're not change-your-life-forever type of moments. Monmouth is entitled to a smile in 2015, and its toothy grin may show a handful of times this coming spring.
Hate Your Friends
March 14: at Marist; March 21: Siena; April 4: Canisius; April 11: at Detroit; April 18: at Quinnipiac; April 25: Manhattan
Monmouth has some ground to make up in the MAAC. That statement is full of "Duh!" but it does holds water outside of the team's 0-6 rush through the league last spring. The conference -- as a whole -- isn't light years ahead of the Hawks, but the team still has a lot of room to grow relative to its peers:
|MON. OFF. EFF.
|MON. DEF. EFF.
Monmouth is kind of like Michigan and Marquette in that the Hawks entered a league with predators that restricted the team's ability to hunt. But unlike the Wolverines and Eagles, Monmouth is running in a field with fewer apex predators patrolling the same area. Wins aren't as important to the Hawks here as simply eroding the void between them and their conference peers. Success will come, but it starts with showing a little more light.