The River Hawks' lacrosse concern has existed -- for Division I purposes -- since mid-February 2013, a program that found its genesis due to the school's addition to the America East Conference. This coming spring will mark the first time that Massachusetts-Lowell will throw hands at the highest level of college lacrosse, entering a league that both provides substantive challenges and opportunities to the nascent program. Expectations are what they are for first-year programs, but wins and losses are less important to the River Hawks -- in the context of Division I lacrosse's volition -- than the simple fact that UMass-Lowell will pull their chin straps tight and run through an inaugural season of play in 2015.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
I'm a Winner?
February 28: Wagner; March 7: @NJIT; April 25: v. VMI
Monmouth went winless in their freshman campaign in 2014, dropping 13 consecutive games last spring while trying to figure out the new landscape they were attempting to navigate. The Hawks' schedule wasn't loaded with a host of nonconference games conducive to victories -- only Wagner and Lafayette stood as reasonable opportunities for wins -- and the residue for Monmouth was a season without a victory parade. The River Hawks, contrastingly, have built an out-of-conference slate with the potential for some feel good moments: A home date against the Seahawks provides Massachusetts-Lowell with an early chance to experience the exuberance of a victory horn; a trip to NJIT the week after meeting Wagner pits to first-year programs against each other in a someone-must-win battle royale; and a end-of-year neutral site date against the Keydets may offer the River Hawks a chance to end their first effort on a winning note.
These aren't program-defining dates, but they are events that can provide some freedom from pain.
With Friends Like These . . .
March 14: @Albany; March 21: Binghamton; March 28 @Hartford; April 4: Vermont; April 11: @UMBC; April 17: Stony Brook
Not unlike Monmouth a season ago, UMass-Lowell both has the luxury of playing within an established conference that provides attainable goals and also suffering the fury of a league that maintains pockets of "Kaboom!" Going oh-fer through the America East is a possibility for the River Hawks, but simply learning to get on and off the bus like an entity with purpose matters more than stringing together wins in a conference that has the potential to go sideways next spring. The alternating nature of the teams' America East home and road wins will either provide the team with rhythm in the league or create an inability to maintain consistency.
February 14: @Yale; March 17: Fairfield
Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail, and sometimes you're standing static on the ground staring up to the sky as a nuclear bomb races toward your face.