College lacrosse

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College lacrosse refers to lacrosse played by student athletes at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. In both countries, men's field lacrosse and women's lacrosse are played in both the varsity and club levels. College lacrosse in Canada is sponsored by the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) and Maritime University Field Lacrosse League (MUFLL), while in the United States, varsity men's and women's lacrosse is sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

In the U.S., as of the 2011-12 academic year, there were 61 NCAA-sanctioned Division I men's lacrosse teams, 46 Division II men's lacrosse teams and 189 Division III men's lacrosse teams, as well as 92 Division I women's lacrosse teams, 67 Division II women's lacrosse teams, and 216 Division III women's lacrosse teams. There were also 28 men's programs and 17 women's programs at two-year community colleges organized by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and a growing number of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) four-year small college programs.

As of 2011-12, there were 213 collegiate men's club teams competing through the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), including most major universities in the United States without NCAA Men's programs, organized into two divisions and ten conferences. Schools that feature a Division 1 program typically play in Division I, where schools who have NCAA Division II, Division III, or NAIA distinction play in Division II of the MCLA. The MCLA is structured to give the high number of lacrosse players playing at the high school level, an outlet to play competitive collegiate lacrosse regardless of their location. High caliber programs competing in the MCLA often operate as "virtual varsity" teams, often competing against NCAA Division II and III teams. The MCLA currently holds its national championship tournament at Dick's Sporting Goods Park located in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, Colorado. This tournament is a 16-team tournament for both Division I and Division II programs and features a live broadcast of semi-final and championship contests.

In 2011-12, there were another 127 schools with men's club teams in the National College Lacrosse League (NCLL), again, often at schools with existing NCAA programs. As of 2011-12, there were also 266 collegiate club teams for women organized by the Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA).

History of college lacrosse[edit]

The first intercollegiate game in the United States was played on November 22, 1877 between New York University and Manhattan College.[1][2] Lacrosse had been introduced in upstate New York in the 1860s. Lacrosse was further introduced to the Baltimore area in the 1890s. These two areas continue to be the hotbeds of college lacrosse in the U.S. The first intercollegiate lacrosse tournament was held in 1881, with Harvard beating Princeton, 3-0, in the championship game.[3]

From this point through 1934, collegiate lacrosse associations chose an annual champion based on regular season records. The U. S. Amateur Lacrosse Association was founded in 1879, while seven colleges formed the first Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association three years later. That was succeeded in 1905 by the Intercollegiate Lacrosse League. The USILL acted as the governing body for lacrosse in the United States until it was replaced by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association in 1926. The USILA was reorganized in 1929, and from 1934 through 1970 chose the Wingate Memorial Trophy champion.

At their 1969 annual meeting in Baltimore, the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association voted for its first playoff tournament to determine the national winner. In 1971, the NCAA began sponsoring Men's Lacrosse and began holding an annual Championship tournament for Division I schools. The NCAA added a 'small college' tournament for all non-Division I schools for the 1972 and 1973 seasons, a Division II and III tournament for the 1974 through 1979 seasons, and finally separate tournaments for Divisions II and III beginning in 1984

NCAA Men's Lacrosse[edit]

NCAA Lacrosse logo

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the largest association and governing body of collegiate athletics in the United States with over 1,280 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs.[4] The NCAA holds lacrosse championships for all three Divisions in men's and women's lacrosse. Currently the NCAA has 296 men's lacrosse programs and 375 women's lacrosse programs.

Division I Men's Lacrosse[edit]

A map of NCAA Division I men's lacrosse teams.
UNC vs. Duke (2009).

From 1934 through 1970 The United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) awarded the Wingate Memorial Trophy to the NCAA annual champion based on regular season records. Beginning in 1971, the National Collegiate Athletic Association began holding an annual NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship tournament.[5]

As of the next NCAA lacrosse season of 2015, there will be 68 NCAA Division I men's lacrosse teams, with 66 of them organized into 10 conferences and two teams playing as independent D-I programs, without a conference affiliation.[6] These teams are heavily concentrated in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, and only two teams, both on the Colorado Front Range, are not in the Eastern Time Zone.

The most recent changes to the roster of men's lacrosse conferences occurred in the 2014 offseason. The Big Ten Conference is adding the sport for the first time in 2014–15. The Big Ten move, along with other changes stemming from the early-2010s NCAA conference realignment, led to the demise of ECAC Lacrosse. The Southern Conference (SoCon) took over men's lacrosse sponsorship from the Atlantic Sun Conference (A-Sun), which itself had only added the sport for the 2013–14 school year.[7] This was a friendly takeover, as the two conferences had agreed in January 2014 to form a lacrosse alliance under which they would divide lacrosse sponsorship, with men's shifting to the SoCon and women's remaining with the A-Sun.[8]


Division II Men's Lacrosse[edit]

A map of NCAA Division II men's lacrosse teams.

Division II men's lacrosse currently has the smallest number of teams compared to the Division I and Division III levels. Division II lacrosse is made up of 50 teams mainly located in the Northeast and Southeast. The NCAA added a 'small college' lacrosse championship tournament in 1971. Division II men's lacrosse held its first NCAA tournament in 1974 as an eight-team bracket. The format remained the same until 1980 when the field dropped to just two teams. In 2001, a legislative change resulted in a move to a four-team bracket. The Division II men’s lacrosse championship bracket expanded from four to eight teams starting with the 2013 season.[10] Adelphi University currently holds the record for the number of D-II championships, with seven and also appeared in the championship a record 11 times.[11]

The 50 NCAA Division II lacrosse programs are organized into seven conferences, as well as independent programs consisting of mainly new D-II lacrosse teams.[12] The newest additions to the roster of Division II men's lacrosse conferences came in 2014 when two all-sports leagues, the South Atlantic Conference and Sunshine State Conference, began sponsoring men's lacrosse.


Division III Men's Lacrosse[edit]

A map of NCAA Division III men's lacrosse teams.

The majority of schools playing NCAA men's lacrosse play in Division III, with 209 in all. Most Division III lacrosse teams are located in the Northeast, with only seven programs west of the Mississippi River. The Division III Championship originally was a combined 'small college' championship from 1971-1979 before the NCAA split the non-Division I schools into separate Division II and III tournaments in 1980.[14] Hobart has made a record 14 appearances in the championship game and won a total of 13 championships. Hobart lacrosse also won the championship the first 12 years it was held from 1980-1991, the 12 consecutive championships are an NCAA record.[15]

The 209 NCAA Division III lacrosse programs are organized into 24 conferences and over 20 independent programs.[16]


NCAA Women's Lacrosse[edit]

Women's college lacrosse differ significantly from men's lacrosse in terms of rules and equipment. The NCAA holds lacrosse championships for all three Divisions and currently the NCAA has 375 women's lacrosse programs. Women's collegiate lacrosse was originally governed by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women championships (AIAW). The AIAW held championships from 1978-1982 before being dissolved into the NCAA. The NCAA began sponsoring a Division III championship in 1985 and added a Division II championship in 2001.

Division I Women's Lacrosse[edit]

A map of NCAA Division I women's lacrosse teams.

The NCAA began sponsoring a women's lacrosse championship in 1982. Lacrosse has grown into over 100 NCAA Division I women's lacrosse teams organized into 13 conferences and a number of programs who play without a conference affiliation.[17] Only 10 programs are located outside the Eastern Time Zone—Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Denver, and seven California schools. Of these 10 schools, only Denver also sponsors varsity men's lacrosse.

In a parallel with Division I men's lacrosse, the most recent change to the conference lineup in Division I women's lacrosse also took place after the 2014 season. The Big Ten sponsorship of women's lacrosse took four of the seven members of the American Lacrosse Conference, leading directly to that league's demise. Johns Hopkins went independent, and Florida and Vanderbilt became single-sport members of the Big East Conference.


Division II Women's Lacrosse[edit]

There are 89 programs competing at the Division II women's lacrosse teams. Division II women's lacrosse is one of the newest Championships sponsored by the NCAA, the first Division II women's lacrosse championship was held in 2001 when C.W. Post beat West Chester 13-9.[18] Since then the Division II level has been dominated, much like its men's counterpart, by Adelphi University. Adelphi women's lacrosse has won 4 championships including the previous two in 2009 and 2010.[18]

The 89 NCAA Division II women's lacrosse programs are organized into eight conferences as well as independent programs.[19]


Division III Women's Lacrosse[edit]

The NCAA Division III level is made up of 216 women's lacrosse teams. It is the largest women's lacrosse division and also the largest NCAA lacrosse division including men's and women's, surpassing the men's Division III by about 30 members.[20]


NAIA Lacrosse[edit]

Main article: NAIA lacrosse

There are a growing number of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) schools that offer lacrosse, although the sport is not an officially recognized sport by the NAIA.[21] Currently, NAIA programs primarily compete at the club level with roughly 25 men's NAIA lacrosse programs primarily playing within the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) and 14 women's programs primarily playing within the Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA). NAIA programs also regularly compete against NCAA DII and DIII teams.[22] In 2010, six NAIA women's lacrosse programs formed the National Women's Lacrosse League which began play as a women's-only NAIA lacrosse conference in Spring 2011.[23] Additionally, the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) announced on January 27, 2012, that it is making history by adding lacrosse for both men and women as conference sports effective the fall of 2012. The WHAC is the first conference in the NAIA to offer lacrosse as a conference championship sport.[24]

NJCAA Lacrosse[edit]

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) is the primary governing body of community college athletic programs in the USA and currently oversees 28 men's and 17 women's lacrosse programs predominately in the Northeastern United States. The NJCAA lacrosse programs do not compete in their regular conferences, but instead are ranked within their NJCAA Regions. The NJCAA has sponsored a men's lacrosse championship since 1970 and a women's lacrosse championship since 2004.[25][26] There are also new lacrosse programs at community colleges that are not members of the NJCAA, such as the California Community College Athletic Association, which does not sponsor the sport at this time.

Men's Club Lacrosse[edit]

Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA)[edit]

MCLA Lacrosse logo
Lindenwood vs. Miami (FL) in an MCLA DI game (2010).

The Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), formerly known as the US Lacrosse Men’s Division of Intercollegiate Associates (USL MDIA), is a national organization of non-NCAA, college men's lacrosse programs. The MCLA was created by the MDIA Board of Directors and its creation was announced by US Lacrosse on August 24, 2006. The MCLA oversees play and conducts national championships for almost 200 non-NCAA men's lacrosse programs in nine conferences and in two divisions throughout the country. Many NAIA lacrosse teams compete in this league while waiting for the association to recognize the sport on a championship level.[27]


National College Lacrosse League (NCLL)[edit]

The National College Lacrosse League (NCLL) is a men's lacrosse league comprising mostly Eastern US college lacrosse clubs (non-varsity). There are approximately 130 teams divided into 12 conferences. The programs are split into Division I and Division II. Many of the clubs are at schools that currently have varsity NCAA Men's lacrosse programs.


  • Blue Ridge Conference
  • Capitol Conference
  • Chesapeake Conference
  • Eastern Pennsylvania Conference
  • Empire East Conference
  • Empire West Conference
  • Keystone Conference
  • Liberty Conference
  • Midwest North Conference
  • Midwest South Conference
  • NY Metro Conference
  • Tidewater Conference

Other U.S. college club lacrosse leagues[edit]

Women's club lacrosse[edit]

Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA)[edit]

The Women's Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) is a collection of over 260 college club teams that compete under the US Lacrosse umbrella. Teams are organized into various leagues and two divisions. The association regulates different aspects of the teams including minimum number of games played. A recent modification the WCLA has made to the rules allows Community Colleges to become members. Team's that have been classified as either Division I or Division II have the opportunity to compete in a national championship each spring under US Lacrosse.

WCLA National Tournament History
  • 2014: Pittsburgh - Defeated Boston College 12-11
  • 2013: Colorado State - Defeated UCSB 14-4
  • 2012: UC Davis - Defeated Colorado State 9-7
  • 2011: Colorado State - Defeated UCLA 11-9
  • 2010: Colorado State - Defeated Cal Poly 6-4
  • 2009: Virginia Tech - Defeated Colorado 17-9
  • 2008: Colorado State - Defeated Cal Poly 8-5 (OT)
  • 2007: Cal Poly - Defeated Navy 16-9
  • 2006: Cal Poly - Defeated Michigan 12-7
  • 2005: Cal Poly - Defeated Colorado State 14-3
  • 2004: Cal Poly - Defeated Santa Clara 15-4
  • 2003: Cal Poly - Defeated UCLA 11-9
  • 2002: Cal Poly - Defeated Air Force 10-5
  • 2001: Cal Poly - Defeated Navy 13-6

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History – Lacrosse". Retrieved May 30, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Lacrosse History". STX. Retrieved May 30, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Lacrosse History: The Birth of Modern North American Lacrosse 1850-1900". E-Lacrosse. Retrieved May 30, 2009. 
  4. ^ Canadian college granted entrance into NCAA DII[dead link]
  5. ^ "DI Men's Lacrosse Championship History". NCAA. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Men's Division I Conference Standings". Inside Lacrosse. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  7. ^ "A-Sun Adds Men's Lacrosse for 2014" (Press release). Atlantic Sun Conference. February 11, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2013. 
  8. ^ "SoCon, A-Sun Partner to Enhance Lacrosse" (Press release). Southern Conference. January 9, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "DII men’s lacrosse bracket to expand to eight teams". NCAA. Retrieved June 2, 2011. 
  11. ^ "DII Men's Lacrosse Championship History". NCAA. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Men's Division II Conference Standings". Inside Lacrosse. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  13. ^ "ECAC Announces New Division II Men's Lacrosse League to Begin Play in 2013". ECAC. March 28, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  14. ^ "DIII Men's Lacrosse Championship History". NCAA. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Hobart To Move Back To Division III". April 26, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Men's Division III Conference Standings". Retrieved December 22, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Women's Division I Conference Standings". Inside Lacrosse. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "DII Women's Lacrosse Championship History". NCAA. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Women's Division II Computer Rating". Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Women's Division II Computer Rating". Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Walsh Launches New Men's Lacrosse Club". Walsh University. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  22. ^ Smith, Jason (Dec 17, 2010). "OBU to add football, swimming, lacrosse". News-Star. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Brand new NWLL announces charter members". NWLL. November 17, 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  24. ^ "WHAC Adds Two Conference Sports for 2012-13". WHAC. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  25. ^ "NJCAA Men's Champions". NJCAA. 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  26. ^ "NJCAA Women's Champions". NJCAA. 2010. Retrieved April 14, 2011. 
  27. ^ "US Lacrosse Announces the Formation of the MCLA". August 24, 2006. Retrieved 2008-05-06.