Cleveland State officially released their schedule for their inaugural season in an exclusive with Lax Sports Network earlier this afternoon. Head coach Dylan Sheridan announced that the Vikings will play 12 Division I teams, along with a Division II and two Division III teams, in 2017. Seven of those 12 D1 teams were at one point in the Top 20 media poll last season. Sheridan also told LSN that he wants his team to play against the best.
Let’s dive into this schedule.
The Vikings’ inaugural game is at home on February 4 against Michigan. This was known for some time, and it gave us a pretty good look at how the schedule might look for the squad. It’s also a great midwest opener. Cleveland State travels to Durham, North Carolina to play Duke on the 12th, before they host Division III teams Baldwin Wallace (February 18) and John Carroll (February 19). These two D3 teams are in the state of Ohio, which makes it very convenient for the Vikings, and is also good for the sport in Ohio, which recently made boys’ and girls’ lacrosse official sports at the high school level. Cleveland State closes out February in Colorado as they take on Denver (February 25) and Air Force (February 26).
For the Vikings, the month of March opens with a home game against Canisius on the 4th before traveling to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes on the 11th. Cleveland State is back on the road for two straight games, as they take on Hofstra (March 14) and Fairfield (March 15), before ending the month in Happy Valley against Penn State (March 25).
The team wraps up this five-game road trip on April 4 against Lars Tiffany and the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville. Cleveland State’s remaining schedule is much easier after that. First, they host Division II Walsh, another in-state institution, on April 15. The Vikings travel to Sacred Heart on April 22, before wrapping up their first season April 29 against Detroit Mercy.
It’s sure to be a rough 2017 season for the newcomers, but that’s what you expect from new Division I teams. But it’s also impressive that so many big name Division I schools were on this schedule. It’s very good for the sport, and will help start a new era of lacrosse in the midwest and in the state of Ohio. The real question comes after year one, and if the program can build and improve in the next few years, similar to what Marquette has done.