HARRISONBURG, Va., Sept. 24, 2013 – In 2014, the James Madison lacrosse squad will face eight teams that competed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe announced Tuesday.
Seven of the eight matches against 2013 tournament teams will come during the non-conference portion of the season. The Dukes also compete against other top-ranked teams at the “South of the Border” preseason tournament in Chapel Hill, N.C., hosted by the defending national champion North Carolina.
“We want to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to fight for one of the few spots in the NCAA tournament,” Klaes-Bawcombe stated. “We see the changes we made in our non-conference schedule as a step in the right direction. I think the program is strong enough to put ourselves out there and challenge ourselves.”
JMU hosts three of those teams at University Park this spring. Loyola (Md.) travels to Harrisonburg on March 1 followed by Penn State on March 5. Maryland also makes the trip on March 22.
The Dukes hit the road to take on Florida and Jacksonville in late February, stopping in Gainesville to take on the Gators on February 20 before heading to Jacksonville for a February 22 match-up with the Dolphins.
Games against Connecticut (March 9) and Virginia (March 19) also highlight the non-conference slate. The Cavaliers advanced to the 2013 NCAA Quarterfinals before being eliminated by the eventual-champion Tar Heels.
JMU opens at home against Virginia Tech on February 15, 2014. The Dukes travel to Rutgers on March 25, and they also host Richmond (March 26) and San Diego State (March 29) before opening Colonial Athletic Association play.
“With our non-conference schedule, we try to create opportunities for competition, build confidence and prepare for CAA action,” Klaes-Bawcombe explained. “At the same time, we’re trying to put our program in a position to not only win the automatic bid from the CAA to the NCAA tournament, but to also fight for an at-large bid.”
To open conference play, JMU faces William & Mary at home on April 5 before shipping up to Delaware (April 11) and the defending-conference champion Towson (April 13). The Dukes wrap up the regular season at home against Drexel (April 18) and Hofstra (April 20).