MONDAY, JUNE 07, 2010
Men’s lacrosse joins the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and JU Director of Athletics Alan Verlander announced Monday that the Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse program has been accepted as a member of the MAAC Lacrosse League, beginning with the 2011 season.

“We are thrilled and humbled about finding a conference home for our men’s lacrosse program this quickly,” said Verlander. “I want to thank the leadership in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for welcoming us with open arms. The buzz around our lacrosse programs is amazing and the ability now for our men’s team to compete for conference championships on an annual basis keeps the momentum going after a very successful first season.”

In its inaugural season this year, the Dolphins had a 6-7 record, achieving the first win in program history via a triple overtime triumph at home against No. 18 Denver. The only Division I men’s lacrosse team in the state of Florida, JU completed a challenging first-year schedule with games against No. 4 North Carolina, No. 7 Duke, No. 15 Hofstra and No. 18 Bucknell.

“It’s been a great first year for our program and now we have the opportunity to go into a strong conference like the MAAC,” said JU head coach Matt Kerwick. “The MAAC is a group of very strong teams that we’re excited to be a part of and I know our student-athletes are going to be excited to have the opportunity to compete for a championship next year.”

JU will also be immediately eligible for post-season play next season, with the winner of the conference tournament earning an automatic bid to the 16-team NCAA tournament.

“The addition of Jacksonville University will significantly improve the playing level of the MAAC Men’s Lacrosse League as the conference continues on multi-year arc to become nationally competitive in this fast growing sport,” noted MAAC Commissioner Richard Ensor. “The MAAC’s involvement with sports in the State of Florida is not new as we currently host fall and spring sports championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World, as well as the Old Spice Classic men’s basketball exempt event every Thanksgiving. In that tradition, this membership decision is consistent with providing service to our league’s student-athletes, coaches and fans.”

The addition of Jacksonville follows the recent departure of two associate members of the MAAC Men’s Lacrosse League. Mount St. Mary’s University and Wagner College will start playing men’s lacrosse for the Northeast Conference in the 2010-2011 season. The University of Detroit Mercy was added to the MAAC Men’s Lacrosse League for the 2009-2010 season, putting the MAAC at eight teams involved in conference play next season.

“The addition of Jacksonville University to the MAAC Men’s Lacrosse League is another example of the growth of our league and the sport of lacrosse nationally,” said Canisius College Director of Athletics Bill Maher. “I look forward to working with Jacksonville University as we continue to grow the profile of the MAAC Men’s Lacrosse League.”

Against MAAC opponents last season, the green and gold went 1-1 with a victory at home over Mt. St. Mary’s, 14-7, and an early season defeat on the road at VMI, 10-9. The Mountaineers were winners of the conference tournament in 2010, beating regular season champion Siena, 7-6, and earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament, falling at the hands of No. 1 seed Virginia, 18-4.

Last season, 37 members of the JU men’s lacrosse team were freshman, filling seven of the 10 starting positions. There will be more competition from another stellar recruiting class next year as the Dolphins welcome 14 new freshmen to Jacksonville, including six with All-America honors.