Connor Wilson’s D3 Lacrosse Report: Third Time’s A Charm

rp_primary_Mongelli2 Ithaca Lacrosse
Ithaca is looking like 2011 could be a good year.

The Division 3 NCAA Lacrosse season is still relatively young, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton to talk about.  There is.  So let’s dive right in and get started.  D3 Lax is here, even though the fields in Maine are still covered with snow.

There are a ton of undefeated teams right now.  A TON.  Stevenson and Salisbury both sit at 6-0 while Stevens, St. John Fisher, Carthage and Dickinson are all 5-0.  Some of these teams have even played a couple of pretty good games, so it’s not like they’re just running over nobodies.  Except for Carthage.  They haven’t (and don’t) really play anyone that great.  Unless you count Adrian as a good team.  Nothing against Adrian, but they are definitely not a Top 20 caliber team.

And while Colorado College is only 2-0, they’ve played their toughest two games (against Swarthmore and Goucher which they won by 1 and 2 goals respectively on their East Coast trip) already and could easily be headed for an undefeated regular season assuming they don’t slip up and lose to Wooster or Whittier.  If they do go unbeatean, it will be interesting to see where they figure in to the NCAA tournament seeding.

Chris DeLuca Cortland Lacrosse Gettysburg
Chris DeLuca of Cortland Lacrosse vs Gettysburg

Photo courtesy and Jonathan Reiss (GREAT pictures, Jon!)

Cortland is 4-0 with wins over Widener, Gettysburg, Union and Montclair State.  So far, they are averaging 12 goals a game on O, which isn’t that impressive.  But they are also only giving up 2.5 goals per game, so there’s that.  This is the BEST defense in Division III right now, and will most likely continue to be all year.  They pitched a shut out in game 1 and have never given up more than 4 goals in a game so far in 2011.  Very impressive.

If you want a comprehensive list of games to look out for today (Wednesday, March 16th), check out Jac Coyne’sThe Morning Jac” (is that really the best name for an article? I mean, really?) over at Lacrosse Magazine Online.  Jac does an exhaustive amount of work on DIII lax and is a great resource of opinion and fact.

Thankfully, the NESCAC is in motion now, so everyone (well, almost everyone.  I’m looking at you Rivier!  No games til 3/26? wow.) is competing and rankings and power ratings will start to make more sense.

Rhoads and Tufts Lacrosse
Nick Rhoads and Tufts Lacrosse hope 2011 is like 2010.

Photo courtesy Tufts Daily

I’ve got some teams to watch out for this year and I’m not talking about the obvious choices of Tufts, Stevenson, Salisbury, Cortland, etc.  I’m talking about a team like Amherst that recently lost to Tufts 13-9 in both teams’ opener, and then went on to beat Endicott a couple of days later.  They’ve got scoring and some athletes and they now have Coaching Jesus (as he’s affectionately known on the Laxpower NESCAC thread), John Thompson.

Trinity is another NESCAC team that has a new coach, a new style of play and a whole new look on life.  They suffered from Hopkins inspired boring-ball lacrosse under Finlay but are now pushing the ball in transition, using their athletes and actually competing instead of just trying to keep it close.  Having a netminder like Peter Johnson doesn’t hurt either.

Ithaca is another team that people should be looking out for as well.  They had a down year in 2010 but look to be getting back to business in 2011.  They are controlling games and winning.  Nothing flashy.  Coach Jeff Long knows how to get a team pumping on all cylinders so look for the Bombers to potentially make a splash in the Empire 8 this year.  The E8 is looking really tough with Stevens, RIT, St. John Fisher and Nazareth all playing really good lax right now.

rp_primary_Mongelli2 Ithaca Lacrosse
Ithaca is looking like 2011 could be a good year.

Photo courtesy


    • Both the best D2 teams and the best D3 teams could compete in D1. They’d be in the lower half of the top 20 for sure, and maybe even a little further down than that, especially if they played a full D1 schedule. All of this is hypothetical, based on scrimmages, personal opinion and seeing D3 players play against D1 players over the Summer. So basically, it’s NOT a very convincing argument. It’s just what I think.

      Best D3 teams and the best D2 teams are probably pretty even. Some years it may tilt one way or the other but most years, the divisions seem relatively well matched. There have been less and less interdivisional games though, and that is a shame.

      Whittier has a run in the early 2000s where they were really good for about 2-3 years. Colorado College may be the best “Western” D2 or D3 team right now and they are probably not a top 20 D3 squad quite yet. Although they seem to be improving.

      Tufts-Michigan or Salisbury-ASU would be a fun game to watch. I’d take the D3 teams in both games if I had to choose but I could see anyone winning those matchups. The difference is the depth, I think. D3 has 4-6 exceptional teams and 10-12 very good ones. The MCLA has 1-2 exceptional teams and 6-8 very good ones. This is a HUGE step up for the MCLA though, when compared to recent years… I could see the top MCLA even overtaking D3 programs in the near future. I do NOT think we are there yet though.

      Again, ALL of this is just my silly opinion and totally meaningless. I mean no disrespect to anyone and just think it’s a fun topic to discuss if you can keep hurt feelings and ad hominems out of it!

    • do you guys have an MCLA team? I feel like it’s a decent way to get on the school’s radar if no one is talking about it.
      Another way is to reach out to boosters and alumni and state your case: every other school in our conference has a team, NCAC teams get bids to the NCAAs regularly, it’s a good way to attract high caliber student-athletes, cite college lacrosse graduation statistics (find through the NCAA), the growth of lacrosse as a popular sport amongst the students they wish to attract to the school, etc.
      If the school ever goes Co-ed, there is a women’s game, which is ALSO gaining in popularity across the country AND has high graduation rates.

      But the best way is probably to start a club team (MCLA or NCLL) and run the club like a varsity team. ALWAYS take the higher path, work hard, smile in the face of adversity and steel your resolve against the many people who will say you can’t do it!