The end of October brings with it the traditional end of fall ball as for almost two months college players have been grinding out practices, lifts, and conditioning sessions with the only opponents they’ve faced being their own teammates.
Now, these last weeks of fall ball will finally culminate in scrimmages against other teams chomping at the bit to play against another jersey. To see what this year’s team is really made of.
Most teams will scrimmage other opponents from their division that aren’t in their conference or usually on their schedule to give the players a chance to play against someone different than they will see in the spring. These contests will be heated as the two teams play with no official recorded score being kept, but pride and momentum for the spring on the line.
However, for other teams some of the more interesting scrimmages will be the D1 vs D2, D2 vs D3, and D1 vs D3 matchups that will pit very different groups of players against each other and have D2 and D3 players looking to prove they can play with the big dogs.
Teams like D1 Virginia Military Institute and nearby D3 Washington and Lee have an annual game every fall called the Lee-Jackson Classic, which includes the winner getting the trophy for the year and bragging rights. This is a real game for these teams. Surprisingly, Washington and Lee was on a 10 year win streak over VMI, but that was finally broken this fall as the Keydets finally took the trophy back. VMI cadets even show up in force to cheer on their classmates in one of the most unique traditions in college lacrosse.
Congrats to our VMI Keydets, Coach Birsner and staff on the win tonight in 33rd Annual Lee-Jackson Classic tonight in Lexington VA! “Work is not always fun, WINNING is!!!!!!!” #TheCorps #TEAM #Tough #VMI #Keydets #Win #Grit#TrainHardPlayFast pic.twitter.com/ZSrP5VaeGQ
— Dave Lawson (@CoachDBLawson) October 19, 2019
Other D1 vs D2/D3 matchups can be weird scrimmages to play in because you will never play this team again until possibly next fall so a rivalry doesn’t really exist. It is also easy to feel confident as a D1 player that you are better, but there are so many talented and hard working players in D2/D3 that it’s easy to be humbled by one of them pretty quick. They are playing like this is a playoff game. This is a chance to prove that they are just as good as D1 players and to be able to say that you beat a D1 team would be the ultimate brag.
The D2/D3 coaches have limited time in the fall semester compared to D1 programs to whip their team into shape and create a culture as well as install offensive and defensive sets. It is often up to the upperclassmen to put together captain’s practices or chalk talk sessions due to the small amount of hours allowed for them in the fall semester.
Despite these challenges, several of the best D2 and D3 teams are right up there in terms of talented players and organization when stacked up against low to mid tier D1 teams. It is incredible to see how good some of these players are and how they fell under the D1 recruiting radar.
I can remember playing at Canisius we used to go to a fall event that featured D1, D2, and D3 teams all in one place. We would play teams like Robert Morris, Kenyon, Mercyhurst, and UIndy. The game against another D1 team like Robert Morris was treated like a real game and we were expected to go all out. The starters would stay in all game as we were playing to win. Against the D2 and D3 teams, the game plan was a bit different. The starters would play for one or two full quarters than everyone else would get to get some runs in.
However, in one scrimmage Mercyhurst got a lead on us early and their bench started going crazy so we had to respond. Our starters stayed in for most of the game to make sure we fought for a win, but we definitely got a surprise.
These scrimmages are a great tool for teams to learn from each other and to tinker with their plays. When D1 teams meet a D2 or D3 team in a scrimmage it is great for the sport as the players and coaches learn from each other and come spring time you might even end up cheering for those teams as they try to make the playoffs in their division just like you are doing in yours.
Good luck to all of the college teams who still have scrimmages and good luck to all of the college players around the country as they make it through the last weeks of fall ball.
The college lacrosse season is only 3 short months away.