By Trent McCann, Sports Editor
At the conclusion of the men’s lacrosse team’s non-conference schedule, the team is still in search of the program’s first-ever victory. Despite not having won any of their eight games thus far this season, the season has been far from a total failure. The team is made of almost all freshmen, and they have played against a very high level of competition.
There are 67 Division I lacrosse teams, and according to laxpower.com the Paladins are ranked 66th. However, according to the same source, we have the 14th hardest strength of schedule in the nation. At the very least, no one can say the Paladins didn’t challenge themselves right out of the gate. North Carolina (no. 2) and Duke (no. 6) are both top 10 teams, and Army (no. 20) and Lehigh (no. 21) are both highly ranked as well. Even Bellarmine, whose only Division I sport is lacrosse, is ranked 39th.
Hopefully such a challenging non-conference will have the Paladins prepared to take on the Atlantic Sun Conference competition. The team will open conference play this Saturday, hosting High Point (no. 52), who is the highest ranked of all the A-Sun teams.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is a conglomeration of small southeastern schools that compete in a plethora of other conferences for other sports. Mercer, who is due to join the SoCon next year, is ranked no. 55. Richmond (no. 56) usually competes in the Atlantic-10, while Virginia Military Institute (no. 67) and High Point normally compete in the Big South. Jacksonville (no. 54) is the only school in the conference who competes in the A-Sun in other sports.
As you can see, the level of competition in the Atlantic Sun conference is significantly lower than the quality of teams Furman has faced thus far. The Paladins are the last team in the A-Sun to start conference play, with Mercer already securing victories over Richmond, VMI, and High Point.
The Furman/High Point matchup will take place Saturday, March 29, at noon in the Paladin football stadium. High Point comes into the matchup following a close 10-9 defeat at the hands of Mercer after a six-game win streak. The win streak included wins over Michigan, who defeated Furman earlier this season, and conference foes Jacksonville and VMI.
Furman’s leading scorer after eight games is freshman attacker Graham Dabbs, who has nine goals and six assists. Junior transfer Kenny Meinsen has 15 goals with no assists, and sophomore midfielder Clay Adams has five goals and five assists to round out the top three scorers. In all, seven of the team’s top 10 scorers are only freshmen, and despite struggling early on, the team has displayed promise for the seasons ahead.