SAINT LEO, Fla. – With the inaugural season of women's lacrosse at Saint Leo University looming on the horizon, Head Coach Lesley Graham has released the official schedule for the Lions' first season of NCAA competition.
Graham has set a schedule that will prove to be both challenging and exciting for Saint Leo's debut season. The Lions will match up with the perfect mix of opponent strength and talent, which will provide them with plenty of challenges in the months ahead. The Lions will face plenty of tough competition, taking on competitors that have been consistently ranked within the IWLCA Top-15, as well as some top contenders within the South Region.
Stacked with 12 home games and just three road contests, Graham is confident the team will find plenty of success in the months ahead, measured not only in the win-loss column but in overall improvement as well.
Saint Leo kicks off their campaign on Saturday, February 11, when they travel to Winter Park, Fla. to take on fifth-year program Rollins College. The Tars were ranked as high as seventh last year on the IWLCA DII National Poll throughout their record-setting 2011 season, and will provide Saint Leo with a great opportunity to size up a worthy competitor before charging into the heart of the season.
Returning home, the Lions open their home slate on Friday, February 17, when they host Lindenwood University. Currently in their second year of candidacy to transfer from the NAIA into NCAA Division II status, the Lady Lions will play primarily against NCAA opponents and will be a member of the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. Due to their transfer from NAIA to NCAA competition, Lindenwood will drop their NAIA membership this season, but will not be eligible to participate in NCAA postseason play until 2013. Last year, the Lady Lions compiled a record of 14-7 playing in the WLCA against club teams from across the nation, and will prove to be challenging opponents for Saint Leo in their first home game of the season.
After their home opener, Saint Leo takes to the road for their only extended road trip of the season. The Lions will take on first year program Catawba College on Friday, February 24, before squaring up against NCAA DII runner-up, and Conference Carolinas Champion Limestone College. The Saints finished their 2011 campaign ranked No. 2 in the nation, and will provide Saint Leo with top-level opposition in their final road game of the season.
With their toughest test out of the way, the Green and Gold will be able to focus on their final 11 games of the season, all of which will take place on their home field.
The Lions host Notre Dame College of Ohio on Monday, March 5. Another team in the transition phase from NAIA to NCAA DII status, the Falcons are in their final year of candidacy, and will be allowed to compete as a full member of the NCAA in 2012. NDC finished with an 8-5 record in 2011.
After squaring off against the Falcons, Saint Leo welcomes ninth-year program St. Andrews Presbyterian College on Wednesday, March 7, before hosting Belmont Abbey on Friday, March 9. Belmont Abbey advanced to the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinals before being bounced out by Pfeiffer University, who comes next on the schedule.
The Lions take on Pfeiffer, the 2011 Conference Carolinas Tournament runners-up, on Wednesday, March 14. The Falcons concluded last season with a 12-6 record, but were trounced by Limestone in the CC tournament finals by a score of 15-5.
After taking on three consecutive Conference Carolinas opponents, Saint Leo steps back into NAIA competition, hosting the 2011 NWLL Champions, Indiana Tech. The Lions host the Warriors on Sunday, March 18, and then take on fellow NWLL institution SCAD two days later, matching up with the Bees on Tuesday, March 20.
Saint Leo steps back into NCAA South Region play on Thursday, March 22, when they host Erskine. 2012 marks the fourth season of play for the Flying Fleet, who finished 2011 with a record of 1-15, earning their first victory in program history defeating Converse College.
The Green and Gold takes on Rollins one more time, hosting the Tars on Wednesday, March 28, before taking on Converse on Tuesday, April 3 to open their final month of regular season action. The Valkyries, who will be a fourth-year program this season, completed their 2011 slate with an overall mark of 3-14.
Two more contests close out the final month of regular season competition as Saint Leo hosts Newberry and Florida Southern, both first-year programs. The Lions take on Newberry on Friday, April 13, before finishing up their inaugural season on Wednesday, April 18 against the Moccasins.
With a challenging schedule ahead of them, the inaugural Saint Leo women's lacrosse team is sure to have an exciting and demanding first season. For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo women's lacrosse team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.