RICHMOND — It continues to be a year of firsts for Richmond men’s lacrosse, now in its second year of varsity play. Monday saw another first as the Spiders turned up ranked No. 20 in the Cascade/Maverik Inside Lacrosse national media poll, the first time the team has been ranked in a national poll in its 31-game history. Richmond has been in the “Others Receiving Votes” categories in both the USILA coaches poll and the media polls this season in six different weeks of the season. The Spiders are still in the “Receiving Votes” category of the coaches poll this week.
On Saturday, the Spiders captured their first regular-season conference championship by virtue of a 10-5 home win over previously conference unbeaten Mercer to finish the regular season. The win gave Richmond its first-ever four-game winning streak and its first 10-win season (10-4). Three of the Spiders’ four losses came against teams ranked in the Top 20 at the time of the contest. Richmond is the first of the programs that added men’s lacrosse since 2009 to reach 10 wins by its second season. Bryant reached 10 wins in its first year of lacrosse in 2009, but the Spiders can surpass that with a win Thursday.
With the perfect 6-0 Southern Conference season, Richmond earned the right to host the SoCon Championships, beginning Thursday at Robins Stadium. The Spiders will be matched up against Furman at 5 p.m., which it beat 8-2 back on April 4, holding the Paladins to their lowest offensive output of the season. The winner faces the winner of the Mercer-High Point semifinal, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. The Championship is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon for the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Richmond is second in the country in defense, allowing just 7.36 goals during the regular season. The Spiders are also tops in the country with a .921 clearing percentage and sit fourth in the NCAA with a scoring margin of nearly five (4.93) goals better than opponents on average through 14 games.
The Spiders are also seventh in the country in caused turnovers per game, at 8.21. Richmond’s defense is anchored by sophomore goalie Benny Pugh (Powhatan, Virginia / Woodberry Forest School), who is fourth in the country in goals-against average (7.40) and save percentage (.597), leading the SoCon in both categories. He has won SoCon Men’s Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Week three times this season.
Richmond’s other defensive star is sophomore defenseman Brendan Hynes (Mahopac, New York), who has won four of the last five defensive weekly SoCon honors, and a National Defensive Player of the Week honor, by the USILA. He is 12th in the country with 1.71 caused turnovers per contest this season.
Offensively, the Spiders present a balanced front, with four players scoring 20 or more goals, led by sophomore J.P. Forester (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan), who leads the team with 27 goals and 19 assists for a team-best total of 46 points. He is third in assists and points per game, while fifth in goals per game. Redshirt senior Mickey Hofmeister (Williamsburg, Virginia / Jamestown) is one spot below Forester among the league’s goal-scorers. He has 26 for the season. Sophomore Mitch Goldberg (Damascus, Maryland) is one back of Hofmeister, with 25 goals. He is eighth in the league in goals per game.
Those three represent Richmond in the Top 10 in points per game in the SoCon after the conclusion of the regular season.
Last season, the Spiders won back-to-back games for the first time in the conference tournament, taking down the two conference co-champions to capture the NCAA bid in their first year of varsity play and NCAA eligibility, the first lacrosse program to earn a bid in their first year the 44-year history of the tournament.
—RichmondSpiders.com— –twitter.com/RichmondMLAX– –#OneRichmond–