In 2010, Jacksonville really stormed onto the Division 1 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse scene. Sure they lost their first two games, but one was to UNC (11-5), and the other was a one goal loss to a good Bellarmine team (14-13). In their third game ever as a program, Jacksonville picked up their first signature win with a 13-12 win over Denver at home. They showed their youth when they then traveled to VMI and lost by 1 to a team that eventually finished the season 2-13. 3 wins over Mt St. Mary’s, Providence and Sacred Heart got the Dolphins back on track and above .500. They then dropped 3 straight against Bucknell, Robert Morris (another young underrated team) by 1 and finally, Duke. They got to 6-6 with wins over Rutgers and Presbyterian and then lost their final game of the season to a very solid Hofstra team 14-10.
Needless to say, that’s a really impressive start for a Division 1 team. In 2011, Jacksonville won’t be able to sneak up anyone though and I think they’re very well aware of that. Coach Kerwick has added depth on offense and some talent on D and if you don’t think first year players can step in and play right away, you didn’t read what I wrote in the paragraph above. They also have a couple of transfers coming in who could see time immediately.
What I like about Jacksonville in 2011 is that they have loaded up the front of their schedule with some pretty good OOC games that are all winnable, now that they are in the weaker MAAC. They play Georgetown, Denver and Robert Morris and any of those three teams could have breakout seasons in 2011, but none of these teams is truly an elite squad this year. So if Jacksonville is planning on being a Top 15 team, these are games they need to win. At least 2 out of 3. They also play Mercer, Air Force, Rutgers and Mount St. Mary’s before they start conference play and these are all simply must wins for a team with Jacksonville’s aspirations.
The MAAC portion of their season is VERY favorable with Canisius, Detroit, Manhattan, Siena, Marist and VMI rounding out the slate. Siena should be a good test to see where the Dolphins really are as they are a pretty capable mid-range lacrosse team. VMI has improved but I’d expect Jacksonville to win that one comfortably, just for revenge.
Jacksonville finishes the season with Duke and if they do qualify for the NCAAs, what a prep game that will be! People are a little down on Duke this year (at least they were on ESPN’s The Experts) because they graduated a lot, lost Brady (goalie) again, and have been bitten by the injury bug. It’s all true. You know what else is true? There are still kids who can ball in Durham. Expect them to compete again. Maybe not early on, but by the time they play Jacksonville, Duke will be back.
For more info on individual players and moves the program has made in the off-season, check out this interview with Matt Kerwick that I found on Youtube. He gives a great look at some of the personnel additions to the team and he talks about the Dolphins’ goals for 2011. Kerwick definitely has this program headed in the right direction. Wish I still had eligibility…