As part of our offseason we are doing an early 2017 scouting report on every D1 team. Our last one was on the NJIT Highlanders! We're doing our list from the bottom to the top, so our third report is on last year's 68th ranked RPI team, the VMI Keydets!!
Profile: VMI formed its team in 1983, so they aren't a new program, but their last .500 season was in 2005 (7-7), and aside from 6 Ws in 2008 and 4 Ws in 2012, most VMI seasons end with 3 or less wins. VMI is obviously a unique school and has a proud military tradition, so they don't recruit like most other schools, nevertheless, it would be nice to see the lads get a few more Ws in 2017.
2016 Record: 2-14 overall, 0-7 in the SoCon. 2016 was better than having only 1 win in 2015, but VMI still struggled a great deal against most teams. Additionally, while they scored more goals/game in 2016 than they did in 2015, 25 goals against Hampton went a long way to helping them beat last year's mark.
Their defense has gotten better, the Keydets gave up around 2 less goals/game last year than they did in 2015. Additionally, VMI had more GBs, less turnovers, and cut its number of penalties in 2016 as well. Not major improvement, but it's something.
Roster: VMI lost 6 seniors to graduation last year, but they only lose 17 points from that group. Most of the team is comprised of rising juniors and rising sophomores. The big returnee for VMI is Wesley Sanders. The rising junior out of Austin, Texas, finished 2016 with 28 goals and 7 assists. Sanders is a legit BALLER and probably could find playing time on some other mid-tier squads.
Those are great numbers on any team, but even more impressive when you realize most opponents were keying in on Sanders every game as he was the team's biggest offensive threat. If Sanders continues to develop and VMI gets him some more help next year, you could definitely see the Keydets being competitive in more games in 2017.
Conference: At 0-7, VMI finished last in the Southern Conference race in 2016. Their closest conference game was against Richmond when they lost by only 5.
Things won't be any easier next year. Air Force is a formidable team, as is High Point. Richmond is still one of the best teams in the conference and was in-and-out of the top 20 throughout the year. Additionally, Jacksonville should be better next year with the addition of John Galloway and Casey Powell. The Southern Conference as a whole has gotten much better the last few years and it will take some time before VMI becomes a yearly threat for the conference crown.
What are they doing this summer: Looks like the staff is on the road for the next couple of weeks.
Been a great start so far on the June recruiting trail 4 our staff covering MD,VA,TX,SC,NY. Exciting week ahead @ UAtryouts,NSCLA,3DCO,big4!— VMI Lacrosse (@VMI_Lacrosse) June 14, 2016
2017 outlook: I don't think we'll see a huge jump in wins next year. VMI will need to raise its level of play significantly if it wants to be .500 in 2017. They are probably looking at another 2 or 3 win season next year.
Non-Sequitor: VMI has a great school motto. In Pace Decus, In Bello Praesidium -- In Peace a Glorious Asset, In War a Tower of Strength.