MACON, Ga. (MERCER RELEASE) – A 13-game slate including five in the newly formed Atlantic Sun Conference and a high-profile matchup with the defending National Champion Duke comprise the 2014 Mercer lacrosse schedule as announced by head coach Kyle Hannan on Tuesday.
"The highlight of our schedule is that we have conference games," Hannan said. "As we worked to build around those games, we wanted to play teams that are going to make our team better."
Mercer hosts four games at Mercer University Stadium, including the team's season opener against Boston University on Saturday, February 8. After playing Boston, the Bears hit the road for games at Michigan on Friday, February 14 and at Detroit on Sunday, February 16 before returning home for their conference opener.
The league opener pits Mercer against Richmond on Saturday, February 22 in Macon. Aside from that matchup, Mercer will host two other A-Sun tilts against Virginia Military Institute on Saturday, March 15 and against Furman on Saturday, April 19. The rest of the league schedule will be played on the road, with trips to High Point on Saturday, March 22 and to Jacksonville on Saturday, April 12.
Mercer is also poised for non-conference matchups at Duke (March 3), at Maryland-Baltimore County (March 11), at Lafayette College (March 29), at Air Force (April 5) and in Atlanta against Bellarmine (April 26).
"I think we filled in around our conference schedule with very competitive games," Hannan continued. "Playing teams from 10 different states also helps increase the exposure of our program."
Two of Mercer's 2014 opponents (Duke and Detroit) were participants in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Detroit lost its first round matchup with Notre Dame, 9-7 while Duke went on to capture the championship with a 16-10 victory over Syracuse.
The Atlantic Sun Conference announced it would sponsor men's lacrosse starting in the 2014 season on July 1, 2013. The six-member league is comprised of Mercer, Jacksonville, Furman, VMI, High Point and Richmond and will field one automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament.
"One of the neat things about the Atlantic Sun is that it will be a very competitive conference," Hannan said. "It's a lot of young lacrosse programs and I expect there to be good balance across the league. Our mindset is to go out and work really hard towards the goal of winning the A-Sun title.
The 2014 A-Sun Tournament is scheduled for May 1-3 at sites determined by conference seeding.