Rollins Looks to Take on Tough Competition in 11th Season of Action
WINTER PARK, Fla. (February 1, 2018) – With their 2018 campaign on the horizon, the Rollins men's lacrosse team has high expectations for the season ahead. The Tars will face a challenging slate of competition this year, squaring up against eight teams earning recognition on preseason polls.
Rollins concluded its 2017 campaign having taken on its toughest schedule in program history. The Tars finished with a record of 7-7 and 2-3 in SSC action, and were ranked as high as 18th on the USILA Division II Poll, and 15th on the Nike/US Lacrosse Top 20 poll. With every game proving to be a challenge, Rollins squared up against eight teams that were either ranked on the USILA Poll or had received votes at the time of competition. Seven of their 14 games were decided by one-goal differentials, four of which were thrilling victories that often saw the Tars fight from behind to earn the win.
The 2018 season will prove to be just as challenging. The Tars square up against 13 opponents, with seven home games and six away contests. Rollins is set to take on seven teams that either received votes or were ranked on this season's USILA Division II Preseason Poll, with the Tars facing current No. 10 Belmont Abbey, No. 14 Colorado Mesa, as well as No. 6 Tampa, No. 18 Florida Tech, and No. 19 Saint Leo from the Sunshine State Conference.
Out of the eight SSC teams, six have received recognition on the preseason rankings, as Tampa, Florida Tech, and Saint Leo are joined by Rollins, Lynn, and Florida Southern who all received votes on this season's preseason rankings.
The Tars will square up against a full slate of South Region opponents this season, and are set to kick off their campaign on Saturday, February 3, with a matchup against No. 9/10 Belmont Abbey in Belmont, N.C. Belmont Abbey returns 40 players from last year's team that went 12-5 and competed in the Conference Carolinas Championship game where they fell to eventual National Champion, Limestone.
Last time out against the Crusaders, the Tars fell by a final score of 13-10 on Thursday, March 10, 2016. In the all-time series against the Crusaders, the Tars trail, 1-5. The Tars' lone victory over their South Region opponent was back on February 16, 2014, when the Tars took down the Crusaders by a final score of 9-8 in double overtime in Charlotte, N.C.
After their clash against Belmont Abbey to kick off the year, Rollins makes the trip to Wheeling, W.V. to face off against Wheeling Jesuit University. The Tars and Cardinals will square off on Sunday, February 18, with the first faceoff set for noon. Rollins is 1-2 overall against the Cardinals, with their last matchup resulting in a thrilling 10-9 victory for Rollins in Winter Park. Wheeling Jesuit closed out their 2017 season with a record of 6-8 overall, and will open their season against the Tars this year.
Rollins kicks off the month of March with one final substantial road trip as they make the trek to Painesville, Ohio to take on Lake Erie. The Storm closed out 2017 with a record of 7-8, falling in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament Semifinals to Seton Hill. Lake Erie has been tabbed at No. 15 on the Nike/US Lacrosse Division II Men's Preseason Top 20, but did not appear on the USILA DII Preseason Poll. The Storm are set to open their home schedule against Rollins, and will have played one contest prior to taking to the turf against the Tars. The two teams have met only once before this season, with the Storm earning an 18-8 victory over Rollins back on April 21, 2013.
The Tars make their home debut on Tuesday, March 13, when they welcome Colorado Mesa to Winter Park. The Mavericks were tabbed at No. 14 on the USILA DII Preseason Poll, and No. 16 on the Nike/US Lacrosse Preseason Top 20. Last season, Colorado Mesa finished with an impressive 16-2 record, and claimed their second straight Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament Championship title with a 20-7 victory over Westminster. The Tars are 2-2 against the Mavericks, with their last matchup resulting in a 13-9 loss at Cahall-Sandspur Field on March 16, 2017.
Three days after taking on the Mavericks, the Tars welcome Westminster on Friday, March 16, marking the first time the two teams will have met in program history. The Griffins enter into 2018 after an 8-7 finish last year where they lost to Colorado Mesa in the RMAC Tournament Championship.
Rollins will have almost a week to prepare for their next competition, where they will face off in their Sunshine State Conference opener against Lynn University at home on Saturday, March 24. Rollins is 3-1 against the Fighting Knights, with their last matchup resulting in a thrilling 12-11 overtime victory over Lynn down in Boca Raton on April 8, 2017. The Fighting Knights concluded their fourth season of action last year with a record of 6-7 and were 2-3 in Sunshine State Conference play. Lynn advanced to the 2017 SSC Tournament off a coin flip decision, but fell to Florida Tech in the Semifinals by a score of 13-6.
The Tars step away from SSC opponents one last time when they welcome Alabama Huntsville to Winter Park on Monday, March 26. The Chargers, who were picked to finish third in the first ever Great Lakes Valley Conference Preseason Poll, enter their third season of competition. Last year as an independent team, UAH finished with a 6-7 record overall. This will mark the first time the Tars and Chargers will meet on the turf.
One final game awaits Rollins in the month of March, closing out a five-game home stand. Rollins hosts Florida Tech on Saturday, March 31, kicking off a six-game streak of SSC competition to close out the season. The Tars and Panthers will match up for the seventh time in program history, with Rollins holding onto the 4-2 lead overall. Last time out against the Panthers resulted in the Tars falling by a score of 12-8 on April 22, 2017. Florida Tech checked in at no. 18 on the USILA DII Preseason Poll, and received votes on the Nike/US Lacrosse DII Preseason Top 20. The Panthers finished 2017 with a record of 8-7 and 3-2 in SSC standings, and fell to Tampa in the SSC Tournament Championship by a final score of 12-8.
After the showdown with the Panthers, Rollins hits the final stretch as they enter into April. The Tars kick off the month with a road match against Saint Leo on Wednesday, April 4. The Lions earned a spot at No. 19 on the USILA DII Preseason Poll, and received votes on the Nike/US Lacrosse DII Preseason Top 20 this year. The Tars' longest running rivalry dates back to their first matchup on March 2, 2008, and has seen the two teams square up against each other 14 times throughout the years. Saint Leo holds onto the series advantage, 11-3, but the Tars have won the last three matchups against the Lions, most recently defeating the Green and Gold in overtime, 10-9, in the 2017 SSC Tournament Semifinals to advance to the Tournament Championship game. Saint Leo finished the season with a record of 9-5 overall, and were 1-4 against SSC opponents.
April 7 sees the Tars travel to Lakeland to take on Florida Southern in SSC action. The Mocs received votes on both preseason polls this season, and found themselves in a three way tie for second on the 2018 SSC Preseason Poll with Florida Tech and Saint Leo. Florida Southern wrapped up their 2017 campaign with a record of 7-8, and were 2-3 against SSC squads. After their first matchup on March 11, 2009, the two teams have met a total of ten times over the years. Florida Southern leads the all-time series, 8-2, most recently edging the Tars by a score of 9-8 on April 15, 2017.
The Tars' true test will come against the University of Tampa on Wednesday, April 11. The Spartans were tabbed sixth on the USILA DII Preseason Poll, as well as seventh on the Nike/US Lacrosse Preseason Top 20, and are currently the highest-ranking opponent the Tars are set to face this season. UT won its fourth straight SSC Tournament Championship last season, and finished with a record of 15-5 and 5-0 in the SSC. The Spartans saw their season come to a close on Sunday, May 1, in the NCAA DII National Semifinals, when they fell to eventual champion Limestone by a final score of 12-10. Tampa leads the overall series against the Tars, 8-0.
After the test against Tampa, the Tars look to take on two first-year programs in Embry-Riddle and Palm Beach Atlantic University. Rollins will square off against the Eagles on Saturday, April 14, marking the Tars' final regular season home game of 2018. Rollins then takes to the road for their final regular season matchup, traveling to West Palm Beach to take on the Sailfish on Saturday, April 21.
The Rollins men's lacrosse team has a challenge ahead of them in their 11th season of action as they look to improve upon their 2017 campaign, one of the program's best yet. The Tars have plenty of veteran strength to lead the way with six seniors and nine juniors. A total of 13 returning sophomores are expected to step up to make a big impact, while 11 freshmen and three transfers bring in plenty of new talent to help elevate the team. With plenty of diversity, depth, and aptitude on this year's roster, hopes are high for a thrilling 2018 campaign.
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