Road Trip Dad – A 2019 First – the RTD Upstate NY D-III Top 20 Ranking
Dan Witmer |March 4, 2019
I’ve written more than once about the special significance that March 1st has always had for me – my own kind of Opening Day. So forget what you see outside –the calendar says it’s March, and that means that it’s definitely lacrosse season. Finally!

Oh, sure, it’s been more than a month since Vermont opened the 2019 season with a game in Utah, and some college teams (Seton Hill, Lindenwood, Saint Leo, Maryland, High Point, and Duke) have played as many as six games already…

Several years ago I went through an entire spring, ranking Upstate New York’s D-III teams every week. By my count, this year means I’m looking at about 34 programs – and drawing my own Upstate/Downstate Mason-Dixon line.

My pool of 34 includes seven of the nine Liberty League teams (sorry, Bard and Vassar), eight of the nine Empire Eight members (sorry, Coach Peluso; I love you, but I gotta draw the line somewhere, and the Stevens Ducks of Hoboken, NJ are not an Upstate team), all seven of the SUNYAC teams, all eight programs in the NEAC, NESCAC outsider Hamilton, independents Canton and Alfred State, and SUNY Delhi, a program transitioning into D-III and currently listed in the North Atlantic conference.

Other “downstate” programs that did not make my cut include the likes of Farmingdale, SUNY Purchase, Manhattanville, Mt. St. Mary’s and Michael’s, SUNY Maritime, USMMA, and St. Joseph’s of Long Island, but most of you have probably never heard of some of those schools.

Upstate teams have played three games at most, while other teams have yet to play even one; this can make rankings difficult, but that’s what makes this fun. The latest Inside Lacrosse Media Poll shows only three Upstate teams ranked in their Top 20 – so I’m taking things a step further and creating my own RTD Upstate New York’s D-III Top 20….

Here we go…

1. RIT 2-0 Wins over Ohio Wesleyan and Bates… The #3-ranked Tigers play Springfield on Wednesday and then travel up to Clarkson on Saturday, two more tests of their mettle… Look for Coach Coons’ squad to stay atop this list, though that’s not a given…

2. Union 2-0 Wins over Endicott and Babson… Coach Wehrum’s Dutchmen go east this week to play Williams on Wednesday and then Springfield on Saturday… If they’re not ranked on the big poll this week, they should be by next week…

3. St. Lawrence 1-0 Defeated Nazareth on Saturday… The Saints play at Geneseo next Saturday… SLU joins RIT, Union, Ithaca, RPI, and Clarkson in the first six slots atop my list, which says an awful lot about the Liberty League these days…

4. Ithaca 2-0 Wins over Lycoming and Geneseo… The #11 Bombers visit Oswego on Wednesday and then travel down to Cabrini on Saturday.

5. Clarkson 2-0 Wins over Canton and Brockport… The Golden Knights travel to North Country rival Plattsburgh on Tuesday and then host RIT on Saturday…

6. RPI 3-0 Wins against Keene State, Coast Guard, and MIT… The Engineers host Babson on Saturday…

7. St. John Fisher 2-0 Wins against Wooster and Potsdam… The Cardinals play at Miseracordia on Wednesday and Clark on Saturday…

8. Plattsburgh 1-0 Defeated Skidmore this past week… Tomorrow will tell us more as the SUNYAC Cardinals host Clarkson on Tuesday…

9. Cortland 0-2 Losses to Ursinus and Tufts… The #16 Red Dragons play Scranton on Wednesday and then Nazareth on Saturday… Yes, Coach Beville’s crew is 0-2, very unlike Cortland State, but let’s give them another week to see what develops…

10. Geneseo 1-1 Win against SUNY Maritime, a loss to Ithaca on Saturday… The Blue Knights will be tested twice this week, at Morrisville on Wednesday and at St. Lawrence on Saturday.

11. Oswego 1-0 Win at Hartwick on Saturday… The Lakers host Ithaca on Wednesday and then Morrisville on Saturday. One-goal win in a low-scoring affair may not tell us much, but a win is a win; the next two games will probably tell us a lot more…

12. Hartwick 0-1 Loss to Oswego… Hawks host Farmingdale on Saturday. A 6-5 loss could be a sign of good (defensive) things to come, or it could be an (offensive) red flag. Stay tuned.

13. Oneonta 2-0 Wins over Bard and Wentworth… The “other Red Dragons” go to Skidmore on Tuesday and then Frostburg State on Saturday…

14. Alfred 2-0 Wins over Medaille and Washington and Jefferson… The Saxons host Thiel on Wednesday… Need to see better opponents before moving them up the ranks…

15. Nazareth 0-2 Losses to Springfield and St. Lawrence… The Golden Flyers go SUNYAC this week, hosting Brockport this afternoon and then traveling down to Cortland on Saturday. That might be a Game of the Week showdown…

16. Brockport 0-1 Loss to Clarkson… The Golden Eagles play at Naz today and then host Keuka on Saturday.

17. Hamilton 0-1 Loss to Tufts on Saturday… The Continentals play rivalry game vs Utica on Wednesday and then host Colby on Saturday…

18. Keuka 2-0 Wins against Alfred State and Elmira… The Wolves play at Brockport on Saturday…

19. Potsdam 0-1 Lost to St. John Fisher on Friday… The Bears can walk down the street to face rival Canton on Tuesday, and then bus down to Utica on Saturday for a game against the Pios…

20. Skidmore 0-2 Losses to Babson and Plattsburgh… The Thoroughbreds get back on the horse (sorry, I couldn’t help myself!) to host Oneonta on Tuesday and then Endicott on Saturday…

Also receiving RTD votes: Morrisville, Utica, SUNY Poly, Cazenovia

Again, ranking these teams at this point of the season is probably unfair and definitely statistically flawed. Comparing teams with three games played with others who haven’t played at all yet is a difficult thing to do, but for now, maybe this will be a wake-up call for some teams, and an unexpected milestone for others…

Imagine this phone call from some Upstate freshman:

“Hey Mom, it was great seeing you and Dad on Saturday, but guess what?

“What?”

“We’re ranked in the Top 20 this week!”

“What?”

Exactly. The pleasure is all mine.

Florida totals… five high school games featuring ten different teams, two college games featuring four different teams, once college practice and one high school practice, one overnight with my high school coach, one Oswego State reunion with friends and former players from three different decades, and a mini high school reunion with two neighborhood/street hockey friends – and oh yes, a great 17-day stay with my Mom and Dad!

Good luck to the spring sport athletes and coaches kicking off their seasons today; hopefully Mother Nature will take mercy on us sometime soon. Until then, however, Oswego is doomed to make do in an elementary school gymnasium for its practices…

Drive carefully, everyone!

- Dan Witmer daniel.witmer@oswego.edu

Dan Witmer is the author of two books.  The Best of Road Trip Dad – the Laker Lacrosse Collection  is an accumulation of 45 articles written for JustLacrosseUpstate between the years 2012 and 2018, about the history and traditions, the people, and the stories of the Oswego State men’s lacrosse program. The book is available on Amazon.com, and at the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, the SUNY Oswego College Store in the Marano Campus Center, The Sports Outfit on West Genesee Street in Fairmount, and Geared 2 Sports in Cortland.  ...and piles to go before I sleep - The Book of Wit  is his memoir describing his 33 year career teaching HS English and coaching at Hannibal Central School. It is available on Amazon.com and at the river's end bookstore.