James Madison head women’s lacrosse coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe released the team’s challenging 17-game schedule for the 2015 season Tuesday. The slate features seven teams that went to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, including national champion Maryland and national semifinalist Virginia.
The Dukes wrapped up the 2014 season with an 11-7 overall record and a 4-1 mark in Colonial Athletic Association play and they fell just one goal short of the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 12-11 overtime loss to Towson the CAA title game, May 4.
This season, the Dukes will play 11 non-conference matches against opponents that combined for a record of 121-80 in 2014, which was good for a .601 winning percentage. This is in hopes of not having to rely solely on winning the conference tournament to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
JMU opens the season with two matches on the road Feb. 1 and Feb. 12 against two Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. First, JMU will face North Carolina down in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels went to the national quarterfinals last year and won the national title in 2013. A week and a half later, the Dukes head to Blacksburg for a 4 p.m. match against Virginia Tech.
Madison will open its eight-game home slate Feb. 15, at University Park against Connecticut. Last season, the Dukes dropped a tough 14-13 decision to the Huskies on the road in Storrs. One week later, JMU will welcome high point to University Park. high point reached the NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning the Big South Tournament last season.
JMU went 3-0 against these three teams in 2014, posting one-goal wins in each of the contests, all of which were at home. Madison beat then-No. 5 Loyola on March 1, by the score of 8-7, topped No. 9 penn state four days later onMarch 5, by a final of 11-10 and beat Richmond 8-7 on March 26. All three wins were come-from-behind victories.
Sandwiched between those games are two matches against reigning national champion Maryland and national semifinalist Virginia. First, JMU will host Virginia, who lost to Maryland in the Final Four, on March 18, before traveling to College Park, Maryland, for its last nonconference road game of the season against the Terrapins. Last seasons, JMU dropped a 12-10 decision to the Cavaliers in Charlottesville and fell 13-10 to Maryland at University Park.
Turning to the CAA portion of the schedule, the Dukes will open league play at Hofstra on April 3 before traveling to Philadelphia to take on Drexel, April 5.
JMU closes the home portion of its schedule with three consecutive matches at University Park. First, the Dukes will host conference newcomer Elon on April 10, before welcoming last year’s CAA Tournament champion, Towson, on April 17, and Delaware on April 19.
Madison closes the season Saturday, April 25, against in-state rival William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
The 2015 CAA Tournament will take place May 1 and 3 at Delaware where the top-four teams from the conference will duke it out for the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.