By Trent McCann, Sports Editor
Furman’s men’s lacrosse team has wasted no time seizing the opportunity to jump right into the fire. Last weekend, in the first varsity lacrosse game in Furman history, the Paladins fell 13-6 to Lehigh University, who are ranked 19th in the official NCAA Preseason Coaches Poll. Undoubtedly, this was a valiant effort for the team’s first official game, especially with very little Division I playing experience amongst any of the players.
Following the team’s victory in Greenville, Lehigh secured a win over Marquette by the same exact score. Laxpower.com’s computer ratings has Lehigh, the only team with a +14 goal differential, ranked as the best team in the country (as of 2/8/14). However, these rankings are strictly based on statistics, and Lehigh’s early season dominance has skewed the rankings somewhat. According to this same website’s preseason poll, Lehigh is no. 17.
Furman’s next opponent, however, loomed even larger. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels, who are ranked no. 2 by Laxpower.com and no. 3 by NCAA coaches, opened their season this Sunday at Furman.
Sunday featured a beautiful, sunny afternoon for fans to come out and enjoy some quality lacrosse. In front of a crowd of more than 1,400 fans (a new record for Furman lacrosse), most of whom were Paladins supporters, North Carolina overpowered Furman in a 19-3 whooping. North Carolina’s balanced attack resulted in too many scoring opportunities for the Paladins to slow down. The Tar Heels were clearly a larger, faster, and more physical team with excellent chemistry and great coaching. Not to say the Paladins didn’t show some promise on a few counter attacks, but at the end of the day, the better team won the game.
UNC peppered the Paladins’ goal with 48 shots, and Furman goalkeeper Frazier Kinsley came up with 13 saves. However, Furman only forced UNC’s goalie to make eight saves, many of which were not great shots. This lopsided shot advantage never gave Furman a chance. UNC’s balanced attack resulted in goals from 14 different players — an excellent start to what could be a very successful season for the Tar Heels. Furman’s goals were scored by Chase Hancock, Kenny Meinsen, and Ben Levin.
“It’s good to see Furman playing against such strong competition to try to get an idea of what’s out there,” one fan said after the game. “Although the team is struggling right now, hopefully the tough schedule will be worth it. Either way, I’ve enjoyed watching the games so far.”
Before the UNC game, freshman attacker Graham Dabbs was named Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week for his performance against Lehigh. Dabbs took three shots and scored two goals, both in the fourth quarter. He also notched an assist earlier in the game. With only a few games played around the country during the first week of February, there was not a ton of competition for this week’s top player award.
Furman’s next three games all come on the road: at Air Force in Colorado, at Army in New York, and at Bellarmine in Kentucky. The Paladins will finally return home March 8 to host the University of Michigan in yet another daunting matchup. The team will seek to notch the program’s first win during this upcoming road trip.