With its sights clearly set on making a return trip to the NCAA lacrosse tournament, the Army men’s lacrosse team will again face a difficult non-league schedule in addition to playing its eight Patriot League opponents.
The Black Knights will make trips to play two Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, both considered to be top 10 teams in the nation again this year, in Syracuse (Feb. 28) and North Carolina (March 30). Army will open the season with UMass on Feb. 10 in Atlanta and visit Rutgers, another perennial top-ranked team on Feb. 17. The final non-league game is against Mercer, which will visit Michie Stadium on Feb. 24.
“We have structured a schedule that could make us more competitive for an at large bid when we combine our non-league schedule with an already-tough schedule against our opponents in the Patriot League,” says Joe Alberici, Army’s longtime head coach entering his 18th season leading the Black Knights. “Syracuse is looking to be one of the best programs in the country and North Carolina is always near the top of the list. Rutgers was a final four team a couple of years ago and UMass is always very good.”
While Alberici was clear that the entire Patriot League is strong and no team can be overlooked, he took note of key league games against Boston University on March 22 in Boston, Loyola (Md.) on April 26 in Baltimore and Navy at home on April 13.
Meanwhile, the Black Knights, who lost to Penn State in nail biter 10-9 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last season, should open up the season ranked in the top 10 as well. Army, which defeated defending NCAA champion Maryland in the first round of the tournament last season, returns virtually its entire starting team, with the exception of all-conference goalie Knox Dent and defenseman Deacon Donaldson, who did miss 10 games with an injury last season.
“I think we have back everyone who scored all but six of our 200-plus goals last season,” Alberici adds. “We are very excited about this team. And, we have a number of guys who are working very hard to earn the starting spot at goalie.”