Roanoke College Men's Lacrosse was ranked #2 in the country, according to the USILA Div. III Pre-Season Poll announced Monday afternoon. The ranking is the highest for the storied program in the NCAA Div. III-era.
The Maroons won their second straight and ODAC-best 16th overall conference title in 2011, but that would be just the beginning of their postseason journey. RC took down Colorado College, 25-5, in its opening round contest of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Thereafter, the tourney was a gauntlet of highly-ranked teams. Roanoke defeated #12 Gettysburg College, 15-9, in the second round, setting up a quarterfinals showdown with #3 Stevenson University. The Maroons shocked the Mustangs, 13-12, thanks to a goal with 0:14 to play by attackman Richard Lachlan. RC's run ended in the semifinals when they fell to top-ranked and eventual national champion Salisbury University, 16-7.
The 2012 preseason polls from various national outlets have both Roanoke and ODAC-rival Lynchburg highly ranked. RC is slated third by both Lacrosse Magazine and the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA), while Inside Lacrosse's 2012 Face-off Yearbook has the Maroons tabbed fourth. LC chimes in rated 15th by both Lacrosse Magazine and the USILA, but Inside Lacrosse has the Hornets perched in the eighth position.
Roanoke, who finished 17-4 overall, 7-0 in the ODAC, return four all-conference standouts to lead the two-time defending ODAC Champions. Leading the way is Jeff Keating, who led the ODAC in points (86), goals (56), assists (30) and man-up goals (10) last spring. He's joined by Lachlan (12 A, 27 GB), who's big goal against Stevenson was just one of 56, tying him with Keating for the league lead. Also back are attacker Mike Hayden (28 G, 25 A, 26 GB) and defender Eric DeLong (43 GB, 27 CT).
The Maroons, ranked #7 in the final USILA National Poll, finished as a national semifinalist for the ninth time in program-history. The 21-game conference win-streak is the second-longest in ODAC history, completing the third consecutive season with an undefeated conference ledger. The men finished the year ranked first in the country in assists (10.5) and points per game (26.5), third in scoring offense (16 gpg) and fourth in groundballs per game (44.8).
Head coach Bill Pilat, who enters his 24th season on the sidelines, earned VaSID State Coach of the Year award for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. The nine-time ODAC Coach of the Year is both the conference and school all-time wins leader, who reached the 250-win milestone in the post-season last spring.
There are three opponents in the pre-season annual survey that the Maroons will face this season. Salisbury, which is the reigning national champion, earned the top billing in the annual survey with 14 first-place votes. Roanoke will travel up to the eastern shore for their road-opener against the Sea Gulls on Feb. 25 in what will be the game to watch to open the 2012 lacrosse season.
Dickinson earned the third spot, just three votes behind Roanoke in the rankings, but claimed the last two meetings against the Maroons. The 17-2 record and the pre-season ranking are both the best in program-history, as the Red Devils captured their first Centennial Conference Championship in 2011. They will face-off against the Red Devils on March 11 at Kerr Stadium in another must-watch contest.
Lynchburg, who earned a #11 pre-season ranking, will battle Roanoke for the conference title this spring. The Hornets, who have fell to the Maroons in back-to-back ODAC Championship games, is second in the magazine's ODAC pre-season poll. They will come to Kerr Stadium in a conference showdown on March 17.
ODAC-foe Hampden-Sydney received votes in the national poll and was one of the Maroons toughest opponents last spring. The Tigers, who was picked third in the pre-season ODAC poll, return four pre-season All-Americans (Face-Off Yearbook) from a 12-5 squad a year ago. Roanoke edged H-SC by only two goals in both contests last spring. The men will travel to Hampden-Sydney on March 24.
The men open the 2012 season with a home contest against St. Mary's (MD). Game time is slated for Sunday, Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. in the friendly confines of Donald J. Kerr Stadium.a