College lacrosse is back and it feels so good! After a grueling eight months since Memorial Day, 2018, our favorite
winter time activity SPRING SPORT has finally returned. Obviously we need to start things out properly and the only way to do that is with the greatest rendition of our National Anthem ever. Hit it, Ms. Houston!!
Today is a special day for college lacrosse as the Utah Utes kick off their inaugural season versus the Vermont Catamounts. Here’s the season outlook for Utah if you are unfamiliar with the program. Below is today’s Big Board. It’s pretty bare since there is only one game, but the same rules apply as before, namely, clicking on the team name will take you to that team’s homepage, clicking on the Stream/TV cell will take you to the broadcast of that game, while the Live Stats cell will take you to the live stats of that game. All times East Coast Standard, per usual. Let’s go to the Big Board!!
Excitement is in the air as Utah embarks on its first season. The importance of a school like Utah getting Division I men’s lacrosse is self-evident: Utah is a Power 5 school in the PAC-12 conference and the program would be the western most Division I men’s lacrosse program in the country. But all that side stuff is immaterial today, as the most important thing for Utah is getting a win against a very strong Vermont team.
We don’t really know what to expect from Utah today, seeing as this is the program’s first game ever in Division I. Vermont could blow them out this afternoon or Utah could hang on throughout the game and, while unlikely, may even pull off the upset. Given how well Utah played in their scrimmage versus Marquette, it is certainly possible for the Utes to sneak up today and ruin Vertmont’s day. Just look at how coach Amplo showered Utah with praise after Marquette scrimmaged the Utes last weekend, he doesn’t look like his squad just scrimmaged a moribund first-year team that can’t even hold onto the ball. He looks like a person who was really impressed at how the Utes out-hustled and, at times, out-played his squad.
I’ve gone on the record stating that I think Utah will surprise some people, as I believe they are capable of winning of 5-7 wins their first year. I based this off of the quality coaching the program was able to attract and the fact that Utah is a school in a big time conference that plays in an area devoid of Division I men’s lacrosse programs and I believe that will give it an edge in recruiting Pacific Coast, Midwest, & western Canadian lacrosse talent (think of Denver after Tierney came on board).
Additionally, early success for new programs has been more common in the last 5-7 years than in the past. You obviously have new programs that have struggled their first handful of years, but you also have seen teams like Marquette (7-10) and Richmond (7-10) do extremely well in their inaugural seasons, additionally, while they didn’t have a great first year, BU did have an unexpectedly solid second year finishing 6-8. So a program being pretty competitive right out of the blocks is not unheard of in today’s game.
Now there is no way to ignore the fact that Utah will have its hands full today. Vermont returns a very strong unit from the one that went 12-4 last year. The Catamounts have an excellent goalie in Nick Washuta and while the team lost star Ian Mackay to graduation, Vermont still returns nearly 80% of their point production from last season. Don’t be fooled by the fact they play in a mid-major, this Vermont team comes into the season with big plans for 2019 and given the high number of returning productive players, the Catamounts should challenge Albany for America East supremacy this season. This is going to be a very difficult game for Utah and if Vermont gets hot early, it could be a long afternoon in the Beehive State for the Utah faithful.
Even before he moved into his Huntsman Center office last summer, during the two years when he held staff meetings at his house or in a bakery just off campus and coached Utah’s club program, Brian Holman worked every day to prepare the Utes to play a Division I lacrosse game. That actually will happen Friday afternoon, when the Utes make their NCAA debut vs. Vermont at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Utes can’t wait to make history.
Go All Access with STX & Vermont.
For the Utah lacrosse program, years of hard work will pay off when the Utes host their first lacrosse game as an NCAA Division I program on Friday afternoon (Pac-12 Networks/4 p.m.).
“It is exciting,” head coach Brian Holman said. “We do have a saying in our program, ‘There are no big games,’ but we’re looking at it as a celebration. A celebration for lacrosse, a celebration for the university, a celebration for our players, a celebration for my staff. We’re going to prepare like we always prepare and we’re going to really embrace the moment and we’ll see what happens.”
Utah will host Vermont at Rice-Eccles Stadium — a big stage for the inaugural game.
Meet Vermont’s 2019 captains.
Although the calendar still reads January, we are believe it or not just one day away from the start of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse season. Hope that last sentence was a sight for sore eyes as you nearly freeze to death warming up your car.
We here at College Crosse are proud to deliver a new season of COLLEGE CROSSECAST, and we’re trying something new this season after hearing your feedback from the survey we doled out last month. Starting with this episode, we’ll be doing a weekend preview to help cut down on time as well as publishing it later in the week to get you more excited for the weekend to come.
In this episode, I’m joined by Chris (live from Salt Lake City) and Jake as we get you set for week one of the 2019 season. We cover Utah’s debut against Vermont (2:00), St. Bonaventure’s first game as part of a Saturday slate with some intrigue between Jacksonville and Detroit-Mercy (5:40), and a Super Bowl Sunday duel between BU and Providence that can serve as a useful litmus test for both teams (15:20). We also applaud Furman for embracing SATURDAY. NIGHT. LACROSSE. and do an abbreviated pick ‘em segment (17:10) for the small slate.