University of Richmond men's lacrosse team is gearing up for its inaugural season. After being instated as a Division I program in September 2012, the team is now days away from action.
The season will begin with a huge test. Seventh-ranked University of Virginia will be the Spiders first-ever opponent when it comes to Robins Stadium at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"Everyone knows what Virginia's lacrosse program has to offer, so this game will be our chance to show the lacrosse world what we are about," junior captain Chris Gifford said.
The Cavaliers have 22 National Collegiate Athletic Association final four appearances and have won five NCAA titles, most recently in 2011. Hall of Fame coach Dom Starsia, in more than 20 years at the helm, has produced 117 All-Americans.
"It is great that we have added another program here in the commonwealth, where lacrosse is growing rapidly," Starsia said. "We look forward to our natural rivalry with Richmond to grow over time."
Virginia will appear on the Spiders' schedule every year for the foreseeable future, Gifford said. The teams will alternate hosting each game.
The Spiders' schedule features a 14-game regular season slate. Six of those games will be played at Robins Stadium.
Dan Chemotti is making his debut as a Division I men's lacrosse head coach for the Spiders. Chemotti, who was hired in October 2012, last coached at Loyola University Maryland as an assistant. In his five seasons as offensive coordinator, he helped the Greyhounds advance to four NCAA tournaments, including a national title in 2012.
The Spiders' roster features 22 freshmen, eight sophomores and five juniors. There are no seniors on the roster.
"Our freshmen are getting every rep in practice, so they may be a little ahead of some other freshmen around the country," Chemotti said. "But I think the biggest disadvantage is not having any seniors who have kind of been through it before."
Freshman attack Mitch Goldberg described his class of 22 as having great potential and wanting to work hard every day, he said.
"As a freshman, I do not know what to expect this season, but I am very confident that our team will work hard and play fast," Goldberg said.
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Chemotti and Gifford each identified sophomores Cory Palmer and Tom Monzo as potential breakout players for the Spiders. Palmer, an attackman, transferred from High Point University and scored 84 goals in his senior year of high school. Monzo, also a transfer student (Stony Brook University), played in 15 games at defense for the Seawolves in 2013.
The Spiders are members of the Atlantic Sun conference. Like the Spiders, the A-Sun is also in its inaugural season. The A-Sun became the 10th conference in NCAA Division I to sponsor men's lacrosse as a championship sport.
"We've never taken a shot in a Division I game," Chemotti said. "We've never taken a face-off, so to sit here and tell you that we're trying to compete to get to an NCAA tournament bid, that's something that I can't accurately address at this moment."
The conference consists of Jacksonville University, Mercer University, High Point University, Virginia Military Institute and Furman University (also in its inaugural season).
The six teams will play a single round-robin schedule, along with the conference championship May 1-3 at a location to be disclosed. As a multisport conference, the A-Sun is immediately eligible for automatic qualification into the NCAA tournament. The NCAA Championships Cabinet determines the format for the NCAA tournament.
"We will absolutely be competitive for the Atlantic Sun conference championship this year," Gifford said.
"Whatever success we have this year, whether it's winning the conference and getting a NCAA tournament bid or just winning one game, will become the new standard."
Contact Sports Editor Oliver Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org
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