For Joe Lodato, head men’s lacrosse coach at Keystone College, putting together a schedule is more involved than just making phone calls.
As he begins his second season, he knows that there are other factors that go into it such as developing relationships with other coaches, balancing home and away games, expanding the Giants’ recruiting base, and establishing a non-conference slate that will prepare his team for the highly-competitive Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC).
“We wanted to mix up our schedule,” says Lodato, a 2011 graduate of Misericordia University. “We play some local schools, but we also wanted to go where the recruits are. Overall, I’m happy with our schedule.”
Locally, the Giants take on Wilkes University at home on Feb. 24 and his alma mater, Misericordia, in Dallas on Feb. 28.
Misericordia is coming off a 13-4 season, which included winning the Freedom Conference championship and advancing to the NCAA tournament, where the Cougars won their first-round game before losing to eventual Division III champion Salisbury.
And landing home games with Hood College (March 17), Elmira (March 21) and Farmingdale St. (March 31) should help Lodato get Keystone’s name out there in the talent-rich recruiting areas of Maryland, upstate New York and Long Island.
That will also help in preparing the Giants for their CSAC opener on March 24 against Cabrini College, which has won 17 straight league titles and was a quarterfinalist at the NCAA championships last spring.
Cabrini is once again expected to be the cream of the crop in the CSAC, but Lodato sees Gwynedd-Mercy, Neumann, Marywood and Centenary as solid contenders who will challenge Cabrini’s supremacy.
The Giants, in Lodato’s eyes, will look to break into the third or fourth spot.
Keystone has a golden opportunity to develop confidence early, since five of its first six games will be played at its Turf Field complex on campus.
Overall, the Giants play 10 of their 14 games at home this year.
A couple of wins early could propel them in their quest to move up into the CSAC standings this season.
“It is an advantage for us to have a turf field,” says Lodato. “With the season starting as early as it does, we do have teams that are willing to travel here and compete against us. It’s a good recruiting tool.”