JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University women's lacrosse released its schedule for the upcoming 2018 season, and there is a lot for fans of the reigning ASUN Conference Champions to be excited for.
With 12 of the Dolphins' 17 games home at D.B. Milne Field in 2018, Jacksonville's schedule is close to ideal.
"The schedule is perfect with the right amount of challenge to help us reach the next level," stated Associate Head Coach Paul McCord. "It's also nice to be at home in Florida to play, especially in the cold-weather months of February and March."
The Dolphins open the season with three consecutive home games against opponents looking to escape the snow and cold of February. Jacksonville plays host to Michigan in the season opener Feb. 11, and square off with Notre Dame (Feb. 17) the following weekend. The Dolphins play their first game of the season under the lights Feb. 23 as they welcome Ohio State. JU then closes out the month with a trip to regional rival Florida on Feb. 28.
March presents three new opponents for the Dolphins, as JU faces Villanova (March 4), Dartmouth (March 21), and Wofford (March 31) for the first time in program history.
"They're all very different programs. Dartmouth plays in a very competitive league; same with Villanova. They're both teams that are on the rise and return a lot of their players, and expect them to be very good."
Entering its first season of competition in 2018, Wofford is a bit of an unknown yet but the Dolphins are excited for an assortment of new opponents.
"It's always good to see different styles of play and different teams, so when you get to the playoffs, you're prepared for a variety of teams to compete with. Facing different opponents challenges you in a different way, especially defensively when we have to figure out what these new opponents are doing and try to stop them. That will be fun for us this year," McCord added.
With Villanova opening a four-game home stand on March 4, McCord reflected on the strength of the Dolphins' first five matchups, "Every team is going to present challenges to us in different ways. Michigan is going to be extremely solid; Ohio State, same way, and then we roll into Villanova. There's really no rest for us and that's the way we want it."
Jacksonville then welcomes Vermont to D.B. Milne Field March 11, and face Central Connecticut three days later when the Blue Devils come to town March 14. A week later, the Dolphins play host to their second new opponent of the season in a showdown with Dartmouth March 21.
Jacksonville closes out March with back-to-back two-game weekends on the road, beginning with Furman (March 29) and Wofford (March 31). The following weekend, Jacksonville opens ASUN play at Old Dominion (April 6) and Coastal Carolina (April 8) in a clash of last season's ASUN Tournament final.
Five games at home close out JU's regular season, as the Dolphins split the weekend with ASUN foe Howard (April 13) and Delaware State (April 15) in a non-conference meeting. Jacksonville gets back into ASUN action as Mercer (April 20) and Kennesaw State (April 22) make the trip to Duval the following weekend, and the Dolphins wrap up the regular season against Stetson (April 29).
"Everything about the schedule is designed to prepare the team for April and May, so having some of these teams come play us is exciting. We schedule them so we can learn and grow rapidly; we hope that it prepares us for success in the conference," said McCord.
"The schedule will challenge us, but I think we can peak this year and take another step forward as a team."