It’s February, which means Division I women’s lacrosse is back.
Will 2019 see a non-traditional power, like James Madison, win the title again? Will Maryland or North Carolina retake the throne? Or will Boston College, Florida or Stony Brook break through?
Leading up to the postseason, here’s how you can spend your time, by watching these 11 must-watch games.
Saturday, Feb. 9 - James Madison at North Carolina, 3 p.m.
This is a rematch of a semifinal game last season, where the Dukes bested the Tar Heels 15-12. North Carolina had the 10th best offense in the country last season, scoring 15.81 goals per-game. Meanwhile, James Madison had one of the top defenses, allowing just 9.26 goals per-game in 2018, a mark good enough for sixth in the country.
Thursday, Feb. 14 - Florida at Maryland, 7 p.m.
Florida has been playing Division I women’s lacrosse for nearly a decade. The Gators have made the NCAA tournament each year since 2011, made the Final Four in 2012 and made the quarterfinals last year. Inside Lacrosse has Florida ranked sixth in its preseason poll. A win at perennial power Maryland could go a long way for the Gators this season.
Saturday, Feb. 16 - Boston College at Syracuse, 12 p.m.
Syracuse and Boston College first met in women’s lacrosse in 1998 and the Orange initially dominated the series, taking wins in their first 12 games. But Boston College has flipped the script on the rivalry recently. BC beat Syracuse 21-10 in the 2017 NCAA tournament and also won 13-12 in last year’s regular season finale thanks to a last second goal from Sam Apuzzo. That win capped off a perfect regular season for the Eagles.
Sunday, Feb. 24 - North Carolina at Maryland, 12 p.m.
This one is a can’t-miss game every year. Both the Tar Heels and the Terps have been at the top of women’s lacrosse for a decade. Since 2009, the national championship game has featured either North Carolina or Maryland eight times. They’ve met each other there three times since 2013. Ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the Inside Lacrosse preseason poll, this could be a preview of this year’s national title game. The Tar Heels were the only team to beat the Terps in the regular season last year.
Friday, March 1 - Stony Brook at Towson, 7 p.m.
Two teams on the rise that are both ranked in the Inside Lacrosse preseason poll, with the Seawolves at No. 5 and the Tigers at No. 14. Both of these teams made the NCAA tournament last season, as Towson appeared in the second round and Stony Brook made a run to the quarterfinals. Stony Brook graduated its top two goalscorer from last season, so sophomore Taryn Ohlmiller (2.6 goals, 2.75 assists per-game) will be expected to raise her game on offense. Towson also graduated its top scorer from 2018, but brings back Olivia Conti, who was seventh in the country in turnovers forced per-game with 2.48.
Saturday, March 23 - Boston College at North Carolina, 12 p.m.
This game will have an impact on how the ACC picture shakes out. The Tar Heels were the only team to beat the Eagles in the regular season last year, and both are ranked in the top three of the Inside Lacrosse preseason poll. Both teams are also bringing back their top scorers from a season ago, as North Carolina’s Jamie Ortega scored 3.33 goals per-game as a freshman in 2018, and Sam Apuzzo tallied 3.67 goals per-game as a junior.
Sunday, March 24 - Maryland at James Madison, 12 p.m.
Maryland made the semifinals last year while James Madison went on to win the whole thing. But one thing James Madison hasn’t done in quite some time is beat Maryland. The Terps won last season, marking their 11th straight win against the Dukes. The Terps have an all-time record of 41-3 against the Dukes. But after conquering the national stage last season, maybe James Madison is up for handing a loss to Maryland. James Madison lost its leading scorer from last season, but does return Hanna Haven, who totaled 47 goals and 32 assists.
3️⃣ days until go time!— JMU Lacrosse (@JMULacrosse) February 6, 2019
Today, we take a look at a huge second half goal in the title game, as @kgaudian14 drives, picks up the 50-50 ball and scores to put JMU up 15-13 with just over three minutes to play.#GoDukes 🥍 pic.twitter.com/sdepHqNws5
Wednesday, April 3 - Virginia Tech at Syracuse, 5 p.m.
Another contest that will help shape how the ACC shakes out. Virginia Tech and Syracuse are both ranked in the Inside Lacrosse preseason poll at No. 11 and No. 13, respectively. A season ago, the Hokies beat the Orange 15-14 in double overtime in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech brings back its leading goalscorer from a year ago, sophomore Paige Petty, who scored 2.9 times per-game as a freshman.
Saturday, April 6 - Navy at Loyola (Maryland), 3 p.m.
This is a rematch of a second round NCAA tournament game from last season, where Navy beat Loyola 19-15 to advance to the quarterfinals. Both are ranked in the Inside Lacrosse preseason poll, with Loyola at No. 9 and Navy at No. 15, and both will compete for the Patriot League title this season. The Mids and the Greyhounds had the third and fourth best scoring offenses from last year, but both have some reshuffling to do. Navy lost its top two goal scorers, but brings back Kelly Larkin, who scored 62 goals as a sophomore. Loyola returns Livy Rosenzweig, who was 18th in the country in assists per-game with 2.24.
Thursday, April 11 - Maryland at Northwestern, 7 p.m.
Another top 10 matchup, Maryland and Northwestern typically combine for an entertaining game The Terps won this match-up 20-16 in College Park last season. Northwestern is ranked No. 7 in the Inside Lacrosse preseason poll, made the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last year and had the ninth best offense in the nation in 2018, scoring 15.9 points per-game. The Wildcats also bring back goalkeeper Julie Krupnick, who had 159 saves in 21 games last season.
Wednesday, April 17 - Princeton at Penn, 7 p.m.
These are the powers of the Ivy League. One of these schools has won the league title since 2006. Their head-to-head record is currently tied 8-8. Both teams are ranked in the Inside Lacrosse preseason poll, with Princeton at No. 8 and Penn at No. 12.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.