Conference Spotlight: Independents
Standings That Aren't Standings:
|TEAM||OVERALL RECORD||WINS||LOSSES||MEDIA POLL RANK (3/23)|
|Air Force||4-5||Canisius, Furman, VMI, Detroit||Duke, Marist, Denver, Vermont|
|NJIT||0-7||Stony Brook, Quinnipiac, Vermont, Massachusetts-Lowell, Monmouth, Rutgers, Richmond|
- Air Force: The Fly Boys of Air Force have started to turn their season around after storming out of the gates with a three-game losing streak. With the team's early season turbulence behind them, Air Force has won four out of its last six -- the two losses (to Vermont and High Point) were by a goal each with the Falcons pressing the Catamounts into overtime -- and a win away from reaching the .500 plateau. The Falcons would need to run the table in 2015 to finish the season with double digit victories, but a solid finish with a green light in the win column is not out of reach for Air Force.
- NJIT: Lord knows I have a soft spot in my heart for New Jersey, so let's just say that the Highlanders will have plenty to learn from their first season of Division I lacrosse. Just you watch, though: These modest days will create into fruitful payback in a couple years. Monmouth wandered through a winless campaign in 2014 and are 4-4 at this point in 2015 with victories that include triumphs over Rutgers and Siena. New Jersey never forgets.
Upcoming Games of Earth-Shattering Importance:
- Jacksonville v. Air Force (March 28) and Navy v. Air Force (May 2): The Dolphins will pose a formidable challenge for Air Force. Jacksonville is coming off a beat down at the hands of fellow Southern Conference mate, Richmond, and will be looking to get back on the winning track. The Falcons finish off their regular season against Navy, a monster service academy moment for both schools. I imagine discussions are taking place in Annapolis and Colorado Springs on whether or not to authorize the use of the top secret space-age technology for this game. You don't want the robots to get a full look at what we're working with, but there are service academy bragging rights on the line. I can see someone green lighting the use of drones if the game is tied in the fourth quarter.
- NJIT at Manhattan (March 31) and NJIT at Lafayette (April 7): Two winless teams coming together definitely gives off a gladiatorial and primal vibe. However, much like
lifethe Discovery Channel, Division I lacrosse is a ruthless and heartless world. So I'm openly pulling hard for NJITwish both teams luck. Another wounded preywinnable game for NJIT comes on April 7th when the Highlanders visit a 1-7 Lafayette team. The game against the Leopards will be Lafayette's fourth game in 11 days, a degree of game weariness that may allow NJIT to take advantage of any fatigue the Leopards are dealing with.
"That Guy" Watch:
- Chris Walsch (Air Force): The freshman attackman been on an absolute tear in his first season. Walsch leads the Falcons in goals (21), points (29), and is second on the team in helpers (eight). Those would be impressive freshman numbers for an entire season, let alone in only nine games. Look for Walsch to continue his wunderkind start and help Air Force to a winning record.
- Joe Lomeli (NJIT): Lomeli is another one of these young boys running around reckless. The New Jersey native leads the Highlanders in buckets (10) and total points (11). Lomeli is the only NJIT player with at least 10 goals this season and has had multiple scoring days in four of NJIT's games. He'll need more help on the offensive end, but Lomeli is having a strong campaign in NJIT's inaugural season.
NCAA Tournament Prognosis:
- Air Force: Highly doubtful. Air Force has certainly done a commendable job turning around its season after its tough start, but a lack of quality wins and a less than exceptional record are serious impediments to an at-large bid to The Big Barbecue.
- NJIT: No dice.