WASHINGTON, DC -- The George Washington University men's lacrosse team is excited to announce its 2016 regular season schedule, consisting of 14 games in three states and the District of Columbia.
The team opens the season, its fourth as members of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), with the tough task of visiting Southeastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC) Northwest Division rival Liberty University on February 27th at Liberty's campus in Lynchburg, VA. Liberty is ranked second in the SELC Preseason Poll, behind Virginia Tech.
"Liberty is as legitimate a program as they come in the SELC," says GW's second year head coach J.D. Englehart. "We aspire to run a program like Liberty's, and need to prove to ourselves that we can compete against the very best in the MCLA if we want to be the very best."
The Colonials return to DC for a two-game home weekend, matching up against the Elon University Phoenixes (SELC) on Friday night, March 4, and the University of Rhode Island Rams (PCLL) on Sunday afternoon, March 6. Elon, a perennially top-25 SELC Division II team, is making its debut Division I debut in 2016.
"Elon is a team very much on the rise, and has a consistent history of play at the Division II level," adds Englehart. "URI is a team we have played each of the last three seasons, all in very competitive games."
For games four and five, the Colonials will fly to Orlando, FL for its first ever spring break trip in the MCLA-era. GW has a Sunday afternoon, March 13 tilt versus the University of North Texas Mean Green (LSA) and a Monday evening, March 14 matchup against the SELC's eighth-ranked University of Central Florida. Both games will be played on the campus of the University of Central Florida.
"Taking a trip and playing two teams outside of our geographic region is huge for us from the program development and recruiting perspectives. Additionally, by visiting UCF, we will get to say 'hi' to former team advisor Mike Morsberger," Englehart says.
Morsberger, who previously served as GW's Vice President of Development, now works as UCF's Vice President of Alumni Relations and Development. During his nearly five year tenure in Foggy Bottom, Morsberger, a former college lacrosse player, was instrumental in helping the Colonials elevate to the MCLA from the NCLL.
Upon returning the DC, the Colonials will face off against the East Carolina University Pirates (SELC) on Saturday, March 19. Of the game, Englehart said: "This presents an opportunity for us to get revenge against ECU for a very close, very disappointing loss during the 2015 season."
The following weekend, GW hits the road south to Blacksburg, VA, where they will play a pair of games against top-ranked SELC opponents: number four ranked University of South Carolina on Saturday, March 26 and number one ranked Virginia Tech on Sunday, March 27.
Virginia Tech made it to the MCLA National Semifinals in 2015, losing to the University of Colorado by one goal.
The Colonials then take a one week hiatus from MCLA league play by playing the United States Naval Academy's club team on Saturday, April 2 in Washington, DC.
"Navy Club was a long-time rival of GW's during the NCLL years. They are a legitimate program, and we're excited to play them and celebrate their service to our country."
The team will get back on I-95 southbound to visit the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons (SELC) on Saturday, April 9 and the North Carolina State University Wolfpack (SELC) on Sunday, April 10. NC State is ranked ninth in the SELC Preseason Poll.
The final weekend of the season is going to be packed with SELC Northwest Division play, as the West Virginia University Mountaineers, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, and the University of Kentucky Wildcats all visit Washington, DC for a seven game slate across three days. GW will play WVU on Friday, April 15, UT on Saturday, April 16, and UK on Sunday, April 17.
"While not ideal, all four teams had interesting scheduling difficulties that made this last weekend of play the only option. It's going to be a fun, action-packed weekend and we're excited to be showcasing a high-level of lacrosse to our DC community."
In summary, Englehart said the season's schedule is the toughest in their four year history. "That's by design, though," he added. "We're at a turning point in our history and have a full MCLA roster for the first time in our history. We're looking forward to shocking some people this season."
Due to the possibility of weather complications, the team's official schedule page is the best place to stay abreast of game time or location changes.