Lacrosse is one of the world's oldest sports. It was initially played by Native Americans; this was first observed by Europeans in 1636. It is believed that the sport dates hundreds of years prior to then. It is also one of the oldest college sports. Sharing the honor as the first lacrosse university are Manhattan College and New York University; they initially played in 1877 in New York's Central Park. College lacrosse has grown tremendously since then, and the NCAA Lacrosse Championships are amongst the NCAA's most highly attended, generally only surpassed by men's basketball.
A lacrosse university provides an outstanding opportunity to combine a top education with playing this sport with and against the nation's best. A lacrosse university can be a large public university, a liberal arts college, a military academy or an Ivy League school. Many players use their ability in this sport to get their foot into a lacrosse university that they may not have otherwise been accepted to.
About 75 men's lacrosse colleges compete at the NCAA Division I level on the men's side while 115 lacrosse colleges sponsor DI women's squads. Not only is D1 lacrosse popular in many areas of the country, but D2 lacrosse and D3 lacrosse adds hundreds of more teams to the mix. Every lacrosse university plays its season in the spring, roughly lasting from February-May. The D1 Lacrosse Championships are played over Memorial Day weekend while the D2 Lacrosse Championships and the D3 Lacrosse Championships are contested over the preceding weeks.
The competition is high for those who want to make the step up to playing for a lacrosse college as about 12.5% of high school players move on to an NCAA lacrosse university.
Playing at a lacrosse college
What should you look for in a lacrosse college? Several factors should play a role. One is geography. Fortunately, lacrosse colleges have started to spread throughout the country after previously being almost solely focused in the Northeast. In particular, West Coast schools have started adopting the sport in increasing numbers over the past several years. You should also consider the academic standards and the overall cultures of the schools. Of course, the quality of the lacrosse team and its coaching staff are of utmost importance, but it should be far from the only thing to consider.
How can you tell if a lacrosse college has a good program? Of course, looking at the team's win-loss record and how far it has advanced in postseason play the last several seasons should play a significant role in that aspect of your research. But you also want to talk to others and learn what they have to say about the coaching staffs there and about the potential of the program, the heights that it might attain while you are there. For that reason, do not discount a team if it has not played well lately. You can help change that.
The best lacrosse players play D1 lacrosse. This is also where the largest crowds and most of the televised matches are. However, D2 lacrosse and D3 lacrosse are also of high quality as players need to be amongst the top few in the sport to play NCAA lacrosse at any level. In total across the three division, there are about 400 men's teams and 500 women's squads.
What it takes to play depends on the quality of the program that you are looking to join. For example, a prospective women's college lacrosse player who is an attacking player with aspirations of playing D1 lacrosse should take into account some guidelines. These are not set in stone, and they also depend on the level of competition, but it is best if you have earned all-state honors and have been on your high school varsity team for multiple years. Also, being a consistent threat to score and set up scoring threats for others are essential skills to have.
NCAA lacrosse teams
A few lacrosse colleges stand out amongst the rest.
The University of Maryland lacrosse teams are both national powers as University of Maryland lacrosse has participated in the Final Four in those respective sports 53 times through the 2019 campaign, 26 men's and 27 women's. University of Maryland lacrosse has also taken home 17 national championship trophies, three men's and 14 women's.
The Boston University lacrosse teams are the destination for many who want to combine a high-quality playing experience with living in one of the country's most historic cities. In fact, Nickerson Field, the home for both Boston University lacrosse teams, is where the Boston Braves played Major League Baseball games from 1915-52. The history of both programs is regularly celebrated. Most recently, Boston University lacrosse celebrated its women's program's 40th anniversary.
Those looking to play in the western half of the country have more and more options to choose from. One of these is a long-time name in the sport: University of Denver lacrosse. The University of Denver lacrosse men's team has played in the Final Four five times and won the 2015 national championship. Meanwhile, the University of Denver women's squad has started to reach an elite level too, advancing to within one win of the Final Four in 2019.
NCAA lacrosse conferences and championships
NCAA lacrosse conferences work similarly to how they do in sports such as football and basketball. In most cases, teams will play every other lacrosse university in the league once and then add a number of non-conference matches to complete the schedule. Postseason conference tournaments often follow these campaigns. Sometimes, every lacrosse university in the league is invited to these; in other cases, just a few are.
When it comes time for the selection committees in both women's college lacrosse and men's college lacrosse to select and seed teams for the NCAA Championships in both sports, they take a number of factors into account. One of them is the RPI. This is also a useful tool for recruits and fans to see where each lacrosse university ranks, not just those in the top 20. They take into account not only a team's win-loss record but also the marks of the schools it played and the records of the squads that those colleges played.
Once those colleges are selected, the format of the NCAA Lacrosse Championships is similar to what is used in March Madness, basketball's version of this event. A win advances a team to the next round while a loss ends its season. The main difference between the sports is that the brackets in lacrosse are smaller as there are fewer schools playing this sport. In 2019, 17 men's college lacrosse teams were selected to the NCAA Championship while 28 women's college lacrosse squads played in the postseason.
Men's teams tend to play 14 games and women's 17 contests leading into conference and national tournaments.
College lacrosse news
Those looking to keep up on news and notes have a number of resources to choose from:
Lacrosse camps near me
Nearly every lacrosse university can help answer the question, "Are there lacrosse camps near me?" Regardless of distance, every lacrosse camp provides several benefits. The most important ones are related to improving your ability on the field as learning from college coaches can only improve your game. An additional benefit of a lacrosse camp is gaining exposure to coaches who you may want to play for in college. Also note that focusing on the answer to, "Where are lacrosse camps near me?" may keep you from taking into consideration a lacrosse camp that is further away but may offer greater overall value.
Research what time at the camp will be spent on. Some focus more on fundamentals and less on strategies while others are the opposite. Ensure that the camp fits what you are looking to work on. Once there, continue to show habits that are hopefully ingrained in you such as being prompt, prepared and coachable. You may also want to add a day to focus more on experiencing the campus outside of lacrosse.
Also consider taking part in a lacrosse combine. Although it generally does not involve lacrosse-specific skills, a lacrosse combine will result in coaches learning how you tested in skills such as a 40-yard dash and vertical jump.
Although every lacrosse university goes through the recruiting process differently, they all have several similarities. In the end, they are careful about who they award roster slots to and, in many cases, lacrosse scholarships. As a result, you want to ensure that you stand out amongst your competition and that you also make a detailed list of schools that you are considering. They need to be potential good fits for you. Be proactive throughout the recruiting process as lacrosse scouting is not nearly as extensive as is the case for sports such as football or basketball. Both time and money are limited at every lacrosse university.
However, lacrosse scouting does still take place, and you should always be on your "A" game on and off the field. Even if a lacrosse university coach is not in attendance, they often learn from others how you performed and what your demeanor was. In regards to being proactive, do things such as creating a highlight video that shows what you can do, preferably in matches against solid competition. And keep your academic resume top notch so that you can have a greater variety of schools to choose from.
Also take note of the terms that will be used to describe you. Lacrosse prospects is one that describes nearly all of your peers as lacrosse prospects are simply those who are eligible to go on to play college lacrosse. The likelihood of that happening is irrelevant. Conversely, lacrosse recruits are actively recruited by teams, and lacrosse commits are those who have committed to play for a school.
Lacrosse recruiting resources
As you navigate the lacrosse recruiting process, take advantage of some of these resources:
- How to get recruited: men's and women's
- Scholarships: men's and women's
- Recruiting timelines: men's and women's
- Highlight videos: men's and women's
- Camps: men's and women's
One of the best resources to utilize is Next College Student Athlete (NCSA). This organization has been assisting lacrosse players as well as athletes in a variety of other sports make the step from high school to college since 2000. Its mission is to help athletes like you find the best fit possible as well as helping coaches find the best fits as they put their rosters together for upcoming seasons
Those at NCSA understand this process intimately and also understand how complicated it is. There a lot to keep up on as you look to improve the quality and quantity of lacrosse schools that will consider you, and a lot of rules exist. Although these rules do not generally impact you directly – they are more meaningful to coaches – it is helpful to know them.
Ever since it was founded, NCSA has garnered positive reviews. In fact, it has earned a Google Reviews score of 4.9 out of a maximum 5.0 stars with more than 1,700 reviews having been posted. Its network also continues to increase. A total of 35,000 coaches are in the NCSA community while 24,000 NCSA athletes committed to a university to play sports within the past year.
If you would like to join that ever-increasing number, start your free profile now. Should you have any questions about the form, or you would like to learn more about what NCSA can offer you in the coming years, call 866 495-5172.