By Forest Stulting, Sports Editor
When third-year men’s lacrosse head coach Richie Meade approached his first crop of recruits three and four years ago, he told them “you’re going to take a beating.”
Entering into its third year of NCAA play, the Furman men’s lacrosse program has earned five total wins in the past two years. But for Coach Meade, at this point in the process, wins are not the main concern.
“To me its not just about winning, it’s about building. There are little things that are happening that are very positive. We practice a lot better than we did in the past,” Meade said.
Last year, the Paladins lost three games by one goal. Coach Meade saw this as a sign that they have “closed the competitive gap.”
A daunting out of conference schedule has been a huge factor in helping the Paladins grow.
And this year is no different. The Paladins will face off against Ohio State (Feb. 6) and North Carolina (Feb. 13), two teams that competed in the 16-team NCAA Division I lacrosse tournament last year.
Furman will also battle Lehigh (Feb. 20), Penn State (March 8) and Towson (March 19), teams that have had success at the Division I level.
In the SoCon, defending league champions High Point were picked to finish first with Richmond in second place.
The Paladins were picked to finish sixth in the conference.
Furman will host three SoCon games against Jacksonville (April 2), Richmond (April 9) and High Point (April 23).
The Paladins have four away games against SoCon foes Air Force (March 12), Virginia Military Institute (March 26), Mercer (April 16) and Bellarmine (April 30).
Even though the Paladins only have two seniors, they still return a host of players on both sides of the ball.
Defensively, the Paladins are led by SoCon preseason all-conference goalie Reilly McDermott, ‘18. The defense is also anchored by junior long stick middie Joe Stone, who caused a team-high ten turnovers last year.
Offensively, sophomore Jonah Moore, who led the team in points last year with 29, leads the Paladins along with junior Scott Primeau, who scored six goals last year.
For Coach Meade, he wants to keep things simple and moving forward.
“My goal for the season is to be a better lacrosse program than last year,” Coach Meade said.