Athletic teams build strong foundation playing against non-conference teams

Coaches are always preparing their upcoming season of competition due to the strength level of their opponents. They usually look to schedule to compete against highly ranked teams to build a strong foundation of where their team can excel at.

This is why Cabrini’s winning coaches like to schedule non-conference games against tough competition in order to hone their team’s skills. Some teams can list out what non-conferences foes they would like to face. Conference foes are already known about so they don’t have to provide them as teams they wish to play.

The day and time of these games aren’t selected by the coaches. It’s usually planned for them by people constructing the schedules across the various conferences that are out there in the NCAA.

This is the Dixon Center, where every athletic team can look over their schedules with their teams in a purposeful way. Photo by Tyler Seabrook.

“I don’t really have a reaction to the schedule,” Jackie Neary, head coach of the women’s lacrosse, said. “It is usually planned ahead several years prior.” 

Neary shared about the time that she took her team to face Colorado College in 2015. It had to be planned out with specific details because the game was played in Santa Barbara, Ca.

Neary is allowed to pick her non-conference opponents. It comes with a bit of difficulty trying to fit these games in matching-up with each other’s schedules. 

”Ideally, I like to pick teams in the Top-20, to strengthen our schedule,” Neary said. “I try to scout them either online or in-person.”

Neary’s approach to schemes for their games is to look at the common opponents of their competitors to get a sense of how they play.

“At the end of the day, we need to play our best no matter who we play,” Neary said.

Neary loves playing against The College of New Jersey because she admires their coach. The College of New Jersey’s coach, Sharon Pfluger, has compiled 528 wins in her 33-years of coaching women’s lacrosse. This is the most by any college women’s women’s coach is all levels of the NCAA.

Neary knows that her players learn new tricks and techniques from not just only competing against The College of New Jersey, but also from other highly-skilled opponents. 

The women’s lacrosse team huddling up before they take the field before their upcoming game. Photo by James O’Connor.

“I think our schedule prepares us to be successful,” Mattie Porter, senior defender on the team, said. “We work hard to compete against the top teams.” 

Porter believes that playing top teams challenges the team to increase the level of intensity to help the team get stronger throughout the season.

“When someone first looks at our schedule with Top-10 teams,” Shea Neary, sophomore attack and midfield player on the team, said, “they might be intimidating at first.”

Neary’s perspective of playing games against strong competitors is to have this benefit the entire team for other games later in the season.

Colfer’s thoughts about his team’s schedule for the season is one that will be comprised of highly-coached teams. This is designed to challenge them to get better.

The way that Colfer plans his team’s schemes for their games is based on utilizing advance film study and prior game experiences against these teams.

Colfer believes in the idea of “stealing from the rich.” He isn’t afraid to use tactics from his opponents in ways that would benefit his team. 

Group of Men’s lacrosse team players and coaches getting ready for a game. Photo by James O’Connor.

Colfer knows that the schedule includes teams within the Top-20. He knows that his team is willing to put the work in to have a successful season.

“I feel that each game will be similar to last year,” Chris Stefanowicz, senior defender on the team, said. “Even though every team lost a couple players, the intensity will continue to appear the same.”

Games that Stefanowicz is looking forward to this year are against Stevenson and Salisbury.

“We play York College of Pennsylvania and Salisbury University, who are always going to make it a great game to play,” Colten Padgett, sophomore defender on the team, said. “We also play University of Lynchburg and Dickinson College as other strong opponents.” 

They are also going to have a tough battle against Ithaca College due to the weather that occurs there. 

“As long as we do what we need to do during practice,” Padgett said. “The plan is that the games will go according to plan.”