WASHINGTON, D.C. - With the start of practice yesterday and the first game of the season just 34 days away, Catholic University head women's lacrosse coach Meghan McDonogh announced her team's 2019 schedule on Tuesday, highlighted by home games against Salisbury and Franklin & Marshall.
The Cardinals finished 15-7 last season and undefeated in the Landmark Conference for the fifth-straight year while capturing their fifth consecutive conference championship. The team advanced to the third round of the 2018 NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship and finished the season ranked at No. 14 in the final IWLCA Division III Coaches Poll.
This year's schedule features nine opponents who went to the NCAA tournament a year ago, were nationally ranked and had a combined record of 152-52 (.745). The Cards face seven of those teams in the first 10 games of the season.
"We're excited to once again be playing a very competitive out of conference schedule with nine of the 10 teams having played in last year's NCAA tournament," said McDonogh. "We are looking forward to both neutral site contests against Wesleyan (Conn.) at U.S. Lacrosse and Cortland on Long Island."
Catholic opens the season at home against Salisbury on February 24 in its first on the newly renovated Carlini Field which will serve as the home to men's and women's lacrosse and men's and women's soccer. This will mark the fifth-straight year that the Cardinals have opened the season against the Sea Gulls. The teams have split the previous four meetings with each winning twice on its home field. Salisbury advanced to the national semifinals last year, losing to eventual national champion Gettysburg, while finishing the season at No. 4 in the national rankings.
"Its always great to open your season with a championship weekend team in Salisbury," added McDonogh. "It is one of many key games on our schedule."
Just three days later, the Cardinals will host St. Mary's (Md.), the only nonconference opponent on Catholic's schedule who did not make the NCAA tournament a year ago. The Cards beat the 21st-ranked Seahawks on the road last year, 16-10.
The Cardinals will then have 11 days to prepare for what is arguably their toughest stretch of the season with four consecutive games against teams who made the 2018 NCAA tournament, including three away from home. Catholic travels to Raleigh, N.C., on March 10 to face Meredith who went 16-5 and made the program's first NCAA postseason appearance as the USA South champion.
Catholic returns home where it will host Wesleyan at U.S. Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md., on March 12, in a battle of the Cardinals. Wesleyan set a program record with 12 wins last season, advancing to the third round of the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship after earning an at-large selection from the NESCAC. The team was ranked at No. 11 in the final IWLCA Coaches Poll.
From there, Catholic will travel to Long Island, N.Y., where it will take on SUNY Cortland in a neutral site contest at Mount Sinai High School on March 16. The Cardinals and Red Dragons have met every year since 2013 with Cortland winning all six meetings, including the last time the two met at Mount Sinai on Mar. 13, 2016. The Red Dragons captured their 20th-straight SUNYAC championship in 2018, finishing with a 16-5 record and ranked 16th.
The Cards finally make their return to Carlini Field on March 20 when they host Franklin & Marshall. The last two meetings between the two teams have each been decided by one goal with the Diplomats winning 10-9 at home a year ago and Catholic prevailing 8-7 at home in 2017. F&M finished 18-5 a year ago, falling to eventual national champion Gettysburg in the Centennial Conference title game before advancing the national quarterfinals.
"Spring break has us up and down the East Coast against three strong teams, followed by F&M which has been a great game the past two years," said McDonogh. "It will also be for bragging rights in the Monaghan family as Molly is a freshman here and her sister Clare is a junior there."
After playing five of its first six games against NCAA tournament teams, Catholic opens Landmark Conference play at home on March 23 against Elizabethtown. The Cardinals have won 31-straight conference games dating back to Apr. 20, 2013 and have won 10 of the 11 conference titles awarded since 2008. The Cards are 56-2 since joining the Landmark and have an overall record of 156-66.
"Opening up conference play at home is exciting followed by a lot of road games in April with some great conference and out of conference match-ups," added McDonogh.
Following Elizabethtown, Catholic will play three consecutive games in the Keystone state, beginning on March 27 at Messiah. The Falcons won their fourth-straight MAC Commonwealth championship while finishing with a 15-4 record and advancing to the NCAA tournament for the eighth year in-a-row. Messiah was ranked at No. 15 in the final IWLCA poll.
The Cardinals return to conference play on March 30 at Moravian before wrapping up their three-game Pennsylvania road trip at York (Pa.) on April 3. Catholic handed the fifth-ranked Spartans a 14-13 loss at home in the regular season last year, but York returned the favor in the third round of the NCAA tournament with a 13-6 victory at Middlebury. The Spartans finished 15-5 last season, earning an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament and advancing to the quarterfinals where they lost by just one goal to Middlebury, 11-10. They finished the season at No. 6 in the IWLCA poll.
The Cards then face three Landmark Conference contests, two of which are on the road. They host Drew on April 6 before playing back-to-back road games at Goucher on April 10 and at Scranton on April 13. The game against Drew will be senior day and feature a ceremony to commemorate the upgrades and improvements to Carlini Field.
Three of Catholic's final four games will come on the road, beginning on April 16 at Mary Washington. The Eagles finished 17-5 last season, falling to Salisbury in the CAC championship game before advancing to the NCAA third round. The Cardinals have lost two of the last three meetings against Mary Washington with their last coming at home in 2016, 9-7.
Catholic hosts Susquehanna in its final regular season home game on April 18 before traveling to Rowan on April 25. Like York, the two teams split their season series a year ago with the Profs winning 19-18 in D.C., before the Cards prevailed at Rowan, 14-11, in the NCAA second round. The Profs finished 14-4 last season and ranked 19th in the IWLCA poll, losing to No. 1 TCNJ in the NJAC title game.
"Heading to Rowan is always a fun road game since we have so many players from South Jersey and the Philly area too," said McDonogh.
The Cardinals conclude their 2019 regular season at Juniata on April 27.
The Landmark Conference semifinals take place on May 1 with the championship game on May 4. The NCAA tournament begins with first round action on May 11.