(Photo Courtesy of Robert Morris Athletics)
The Northeast Conference (NEC) adds three additional men’s lacrosse teams this season: NJIT, LIU, and Merrimack. The NEC is now the largest lacrosse conference with ten teams. The next largest is the Patriot League which currently has nine teams.
With that many teams in one conference restructuring was inevitable to avoid schedules that featured nine conference games and lowered strength of schedule for many teams in the conference. This new restructuring will see the NEC split into two divisions and changes to the playoff format.
Starting in 2020, the NEC will consist of an East and a West division. The East division will include Bryant, Hobart, Sacred Heart, Wagner, and Merrimack while Robert Morris, Mount St. Mary’s, NJIT, Saint Joseph’s, and LIU will make up the West division.
During the regular season, teams will have seven weeks of conference play that includes facing the other four teams in their respective division. In addition, each team will play three cross-division opponents which will change from year-to-year.
As far as the conference tournament goes, there will now be five teams that make it instead of the usual four. The fourth and fifth-seeded teams will face each other on the Thursday prior to the semifinals in a play-in game. The winner will advance to the semifinals and face the number one seed.
The top-seeded team will host the conference tournament semifinals and finals while the play-in game will be played at the home of the fourth-seeded team.