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Lacrosse Travel Plans

December 4, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

2012 North Carolina Men's Lacrosse Team

It is an annual tradition at Ron’s View that come May, I write about the NCAA men’s lacrosse championships. (See here for last year’s addition, to which I added brief follow-ups in later posts.) Here in Seattle, we’re far removed from the lacrosse big-time. But the big-time is getting closer. High school lacrosse continues to grow here in Washington and throughout the west. The University of Denver is in the process of joining Notre Dame as a perennial power in a state not adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.

Still, if I want to see major college lacrosse, I have to go east, where the historic powers reside. Hopkins. Syracuse. Cornell, Princeton. Virginia. Maryland. North Carolina. And recently Duke, to name the only schools ever to win the NCAA championships. Plus sub-powers such as Navy, Hofstra, Delaware, UMass. (See, they all really are in Atlantic-touching states.) You can imagine, then, that when I learned Joel was accepted into a graduate program at UNC, my initial wave of excitement was closely followed by a second one, the “Hooray, I get to see big-time lacrosse!” wave.

I’ve been waiting patiently for UNC to post the 2012 schedule. All fall, whenever I checked, I would have to content myself with a review of 2011. Not a bad year — UNC was highly ranked — but one ending in disappointment when Maryland beat them in the first round of the NCAA tournament on its way to a runner-up finish. Last week, at last, I visited the UNC men’s lacrosse site and found the the upcoming schedule.

I can’t just take off for Chapel Hill whenever I want. Early spring is the obvious time. And the lacrosse regular season ends shortly after the start of spring in order to leave room for the ACC championship in late April and the NCAA championship, beginning in mid May. Plus, there has been a trend in recent years to schedule several games involving traditional powers on the same day at one of the major football stadiums in lacrosse country, to give the sport more exposure and bring in lots of fans.

Looking over the UNC schedule, we find three such games: against Princeton at the Ravens football stadium in Baltimore, against Hopkins at the Giants/Jets football stadium in New Jersey, and against Hofstra at the Carolina Panthers football stadium in Charlotte. That doesn’t leave a lot of big matchups in Chapel Hill itself. But I only want one, and one there is: at home against reigning national champion and arch-rival Virginia on April 7. Or, two weeks earlier, there’s the March 24 rematch with Maryland, another ACC rival. Another option would be UNC’s game against the remaining ACC power, Duke, which hosts them just down the road on March 16, but I won’t be able to get away then.

It will be tough to root against Virginia. I’ve long admired their coach, Dom Starsia. We’re the same age, we grew up just a few miles apart on Long Island, and I probably saw him play against us when he starred at Brown. (One of my best friends in college was a defenseman and I went to several of our games.) But I’m a UNC fan now, and I will act accordingly. In fact, once I post this, I’ll visit the UNC online athletics store and plan my lacrosse gear purchases.

Don’t worry, Joel. If we do visit, you don’t have to attend the game with us.

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