HARRISONBURG, Va., April 6, 2010 - After confronting the nation's eighth-toughest schedule in 2009, James Madison will face another top-flight slate in 2010 as field hockey head coach Antoinette Lucas unveiled the schedule for her seventh season with the Dukes.
"Obviously, our schedule is very demanding," said Lucas of the 2010 lineup. "To amass such a demanding schedule with a young group may seem tough. However, I believe it will prepare us to compete for a conference championship at the end of the year and to progress to the NCAA tournament prepared to play. At the end of the day, we need to be above .500 to be selected for NCAA play. We have to win some tough games to do this but our RPI will be very high based on our schedule strength. That will put us in position for NCAA selection provided we win and are above .500."
JMU went 12-8 in 2009 while facing eight teams ranked in the top 20 of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll and eight more receiving votes in the poll. That placed the Dukes eighth in strength of schedule according to ratings compiled by FieldHockeyCorner.com. JMU finished 11th in both the final national rankings and the official NCAA RPI, making JMU the highest-ranked RPI team eligible for the NCAA Tournament to not be selected.
The goal for the 2010 schedule is to again contest a challenging slate in order to be in position for at-large consideration. To that effect, the Dukes will face seven teams ranked in the final top 20 and 11 squads ranked in the top 25 of the final NCAA RPI.
The non-conference portion is highlighted by a late-season Oct. 17 date at defending national champion and third-ranked North Carolina as well as a Sept. 12 date at No. 6 Michigan State. JMU will also host #16 Louisville on Sept. 4, #17 Duke on Sept. 5, and #19 Richmond on Sept. 17. On Sept. 19, the Dukes also travel to an American team that received votes in the final poll.
Other non-conference home dates include Aug. 27 vs. Rutgers, Aug. 29 against Kent State, Sept. 22 against Longwood, and Oct. 10 vs. Radford. JMU also travels to Michigan Sept. 10 as part of its weekend with Michigan State.
In the Colonial Athletic Association, the Dukes, who tied for second at 6-2 last year, will host Hofstra Oct. 1, #10 Drexel Oct. 3, and Northeastern Oct. 31. On the road, JMU will face Towson Sept. 24, #11 Delaware Sept. 26, VCU Oct. 8, William and Mary Oct. 22, and Old Dominion Oct. 24.