"Our schedule continues to be one of the most challenging in Division I," Swezey said. "Playing a tough schedule can always go one of two ways, but we feel confident that this year the opportunity for upsets over highly ranked teams will work to our benefit."
When the Commodores open the 2013 season on Feb. 3 by traveling to face Jacksonville, it will mark the program's earliest start. Both the 2011 and 2012 seasons kicked off on Feb. 12. Vanderbilt will play five dates in February and seven in March, leaving only four games for the final month of the regular season.
"Dates are difficult to come by and as teams become more competitive, you feel you need more preparation time for every game," Swezey said. "By spreading out the schedule a bit we give ourselves the time we need. We are especially cognizant of preparation time when we head toward our ALC schedule and into April."
The Commodores will face two teams for the first time in school history--Penn and Kennesaw State--while renewing rivalries against teams they have not faced in 12 or more years--Harvard (1997) and Denver (2000).
"We have some schedule changes that we are excited about," Swezey said. "Penn is always very competitive, both in the Ivy league and nationally; it will be great to have an opportunity to play them. Denver is consistently playing for (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) championships, and a win over them will give us good standing in the west. Adding Kennesaw was a good idea since it is a relatively close regional game."
The 2013 American Lacrosse Conference Tournament will take place at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field in Baltimore. The Blue Jays are scheduled to exit the ALC in the coming years, opting instead to compete as an independent, so this season marks the final time that the event will be held at Homewood.
"We are disappointed that Hopkins will be leaving the ALC in a couple of years, as we have always enjoyed our competitive rivalry," Swezey said. "Playing at Homewood one last time for the ALC Tournament will be a great thing, as Hopkins showcases their lacrosse events so well. I am certain it will be one to remember."
Of the seven games Vanderbilt will play against 2012 NCAA Tournament participants, four will be against non-conference foes: North Carolina, Duke, Penn and Notre Dame. The league was represented in last year's championship by Northwestern, Florida and Penn State. Of those seven top games, four will take place in Nashville at the Vanderbilt Lacrosse Complex (Northwestern, Feb. 24; Notre Dame, March 13; Florida, April 14; North Carolina, April 20).
This season the NCAA Tournament will grow from 16 teams to 26. The opening weekend of play will feature 10 first-round games on Friday and eight second-round match ups on Sunday--with both games being played at the campus sites of the eight seeded teams.
FALL BALL SCHEDULE
Coach Swezey also announced the Commodores' Fall Ball schedule. Vanderbilt will start offseason play by hosting Cincinnati and Louisville on Saturday, Sept. 29. The Commodores will travel to a pair of fall tournaments, heading to Annapolis, Md., for the Navy Fall Tournament (Oct. 13) before a trip to Philadelphia for Penn Play Day (Oct. 20).