For any new team joining the Division I ranks, there is a sense of mystery surrounding what their first season will be like.
Will they face the traditional struggles of a new program? Or will they surprise their opponents in the way that High Point and Marquette did in their first seasons?
For the Richmond Spiders, all expectations were exceeded.
It was fitting for the Spiders, as a new program, to join the Atlantic Sun Conference. The A-Sun is new to lacrosse this year, and the winner receives an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Richmond joined Bellarmine, Furman, High Point, Mercer, and VMI as the first teams to represent the A-Sun. The Spiders started off the season with a bang.
In their first ever game, they took Virginia down to the wire, resulting in a one goal loss, 13-12. At the time, Virginia was #7 in the country. This game, even though it was a loss, served as a preview of what was to come for the rest of the year.
The Spiders earned regular season wins against Vermont, Wagner, Furman, and Jacksonville. While only having four wins doesn’t sound all that impressive, Richmond entered the A-Sun Tournament as the #4 seed, and would play the #1 seed Mercer Bears.
To the surprise of many, the Spiders dominated and won 14-6. Then, in the Atlantic Sun Championship Game, Richmond beat High Point 8-7, and subsequently earned themselves a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Richmond took on ECAC Champ Air Force, and lost a hard fought battle 13-5.
Nobody expected Richmond to make it to the NCAA Tournament in their very first year of existence. The Spiders have gone far beyond all expectations that were set for them at the beginning of the season.
Mitchell Goldberg was a large reason for this success. Goldberg had 32 goals and 11 assists this season, and earned First Team All-ASun and Freshman of the Year for the conference.
Defensively, the spiders were lead by LSM Jackson Cabot, who also earned First Team Honors.
Richmond went on to face the Air Force Falcons in the first round of the NCAA Championship on Wednesday night. The Spiders had to go on the road to Colorado Springs, CO to play a late game.
Although Richmond couldn’t hang on to Air Force and lost 13 to 5, it was a proud moment in school and program history.
Five different Spiders scored a goal each of the five goals. Goldberg, Forester, Volpert, Burnam and Gifford all found the back of the net in the memorable game.
What makes this even cooler is 22 of the team’s 36 guys on the roster are freshmen, two of which (Goldberg, Forester) found the net on Wednesday. The Spiders have plenty of team leaders, but zero seniors.
Congratulations to Richmond on an outstanding season. It will be great to see Richmond continue to prove people wrong in the future, as they continue to progress as a program.