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Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: VMI

We’re breaking down each and every NCAA D1 team one by one to get prepped for the rapidly approaching season. Welcome back to the Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Previews! We move another spot down the list and the VMI Keyfets Cavaliers, located in Lexington, VA, are up for Preview!

The Virginia Military Institute has been a lower tier D1 program for as long as I can remember. Jeff Shirk seemed to have the program on the rise, and 6-10 season in 2008 showed promise, but the consistent wins didn’t end up happening. Brian Anken arrived in 2011 and the team went 2-11. In 2012, Anken got the team to 4-10. Will 2013 see VMI make another step in the right direction?

VMI started off in 2012 going 0-6, and losing games to Navy, Army, Virginia, Saint Joseph’s, Lehigh, and Mount St. Mary’s. They lost each of those games by an average of 8 goals. A 12-11 OT win over Wagner changed things up, and while VMI lost the next three games, only one was by more than a goal (Marist 15-11). VMI then beat Manhattan and Mercer, lost to Canisius by 2, and finished with another win, this time over Detroit by a single goal.

2013 sees VMI play an almost identical schedule, and their toughest games are definitely at the beginning of the season, as the Keydets once again face Army, Navy, Virginia, Saint Joseph’s, and Lehigh. None of those will be easy wins. Wagner is the first good match up for VMI, as is the rest of their MAAC schedule, and independent Mercer.

VMI definitely lost some punch on offense, as both Keith Long and Drew Leonard are gone. That’s 66 points right there. Thankfully, Russell East, Mike DeBlasio, Mickey Hofmeister, and a bunch of other point producers return. The cupboard isn’t bare at VMI, but some new faces will clearly need to step in immediately and start producing points. If guys like Gage Snowbarger or Dan Bull can continue to score like they did in high school, each could make an immediate impact in the midfield.

Defensively, VMI could be better as Taylor Jenkins returns at LSM, and Rory Dillon and Ty Trobridge return down low. Tyler Prasnicki also saw time at pole last year, and could play a bigger role this year, as long pole depth, especially down low, is thin. Matt Lindemann started, and played, the most minutes in goal last year, and did well earning 3 of VMI’s 4 wins. The 6-5 Senior returns in net and should be the man to beat.

I am little concerned with the lack of real depth on defense, and VMI’s need for a couple more go-to offensive guys to emerge, but overall the team returns a solid core group. The younger players have more size on average, and seem to possess some potential. Getting recruits to come to VMI is a challenge, but Anken seems to be making some progress there. It will still be a long, hard climb for VMI if they want to make serious waves.

Click HERE to see Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview posts for Air Force, Albany,Army, Bellarmine, Binghamton, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Canisius, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Denver, Detroit, Drexel, Duke, Fairfield, Hartford, Harvard, High Point, Hobart, Hofstra, Holy Cross, Jacksonville, Johns Hopkins, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola, Manhattan, Marist, Marquette, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mercer, Michigan, Mount St. Mary’s, Navy, UNC, Notre Dame, Ohio State, UPenn, Penn State, Princeton, Providence, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, Rutgers, Sacred Heart, St. Joseph’s, Siena, Stony Brook, Syracuse, Towson, UMBC, Vermont, Villanova, and Virginia!