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The Greatest Lacrosse Rivalries Ever

Army Vs. Navy Lacrosse

That’s right, it’s Rivalry Week on LAS! We’re getting all jazzed up for the Hopkins – Maryland game, and we’re going to be taking in the OSU – Michigan game LIVE. From the Horseshoe. It promises to be magical, and we’re thrilled to see the Buckeye – Wolverine rivalry hit the next level on the lacrosse field. Duke – UNC was a classic this year, Cuse – Virginia was a high scoring game, and don’t even get me started on a good Hop-Cuse game! Simply put, rivalry games are the best!

But before we get into all that (keep your eyes peeled for rivalry posts all week), we’re going to run down the list of some top notch college lacrosse rivalries!

NCAA D1 Lacrosse Rivalries

I mentioned a couple of big ones in the intro paragraph, but D1 lacrosse has a lot more going on than just four big annual games! Cornell vs Hobart is an absolute classic, and it’s been going on since 1896. Hobart won that first game 2-1, and since then the two programs have played well over 130 times. Hop – Maryland started earlier (by a couple years) but have played almost 30 less games. Cornell holds the edge solidly with 80+ wins in the series. In 1995, Hobart promoted lacrosse to the D1 level so that this game could continue (as well as games with Cuse, see photo below), but also because they were so dominant at the D3 level at the time.

Hobart Upsets Syracuse

The Ocean State Cup is another interesting rivalry, although it has much younger beginnings. In 2009, when Bryant went D1, Brown and Providence basically welcomed them to the division by agreeing to be part of a three-way competition for the best D1 lacrosse team in Rhode Island. In 2011, the Cup was expanded to not only include all sports, but to also include the University of Rhode Island. URI does not field a varsity lacrosse team, but if they add one, count the OSC as an added reason!

Of course then we get into some other historic rivalries, and if you’re talking history, one can’t leave out Harvard-Yale-Princeton. Some like to call this the oldest three-way rivalry in the country, but it is not. Some people think of it as only Harvard-Yale, which is probably fair on some counts, as the two played each other in football in 1875. Cornell also enters the discussion as Princeton’s rival when it comes to lacrosse because those two have been the most successful Ivy programs. Others look at the larger history of the three Universities (HYP), and see how tied together they are athletically, and can’t help but lump them all in together. There is an older continuous three-way rivalry we’ll get to later, in Division 3.

The Charles Street Massacre is what Hop fans call the game with Loyola. The Battle of Charles Street is what Loyola fans call it. Either way, it’s been a stellar game as of late! These two schools are both located in Baltimore, and have portions of their campus running along the street. It makes sense. Hop won the first game 20-1. They also won most of the other games, and in 1969, the series halted. In 1994, it kicked back up, and Loyola snapped a 31 game losing streaking in 1994. When Loyola won their title, their only loss on the season was to Hop.

Loyola Navy Lacrosse

Bigger Than D1 Rivalry – Army Vs Navy

Army Vs. Navy Lacrosse

I bet you were wondering why I didn’t talk about the military academies! Totally fair, but this game is a lot bigger than just lacrosse. The Army – Navy Game (that’s football for those who don’t know) has been going down since 1890, and is extremely close overall with Navy holding a slight 58-49-7 edge in the record books.

Lacrosse picked it up in 1924, and Navy holds an edge there with 57 all-time wins, 32 losses, and 3 ties. Army won the game 14-7 last year, and the teams meet this weekend on April 12th.

THE NCAA D2 Lacrosse Rivalry

In the D2 world, what was once a small concentration of talent has now become a wider world of competitiveness. True powerhouse programs emerge, but it seems harder to maintain a grip on power here than anywhere. There have been five different champs in the last six years, 7 in the last 12 years, and 12 different champs overall.

For my money, the best rivalry in D2 has to be out on Long Island. CW Post, Adelphi, & New York Tech have won 14 titles between them, and each school has won it all at least 3 times. The three competed for similar players for years, and knew each other well. In 5 of those 14 title games one of the three teams above defeated one of the other three teams above, meaning this trio produced the two top teams pretty regularly. The alumni of these three schools STILL get together for alumni games out on Long Island, and the players honor the coaches who made these programs what they were. It’s a unique atmosphere of love, hate, and Long Island, and it is completely unique to D2.

Recently, with teams like Mercyhurst, LeMoyne, and Dowling all improved and looking tough, this rivalry has taken a bit of a back seat, but go to one of these games, and expect a spirited game.

Le Moyne Beats Mercyhurst 12-11

NCAA D3 Lacrosse Rivalries

The War on the Shore gets a lot of love, and it’s well deserved. It’s got the public vs private dynamic, and both of these teams are located in rural eastern Maryland, where lacrosse is well known and appreciated. Washington College might not always be competitive with Salisbury, but the game is always passionate, and sometimes borders on crazy.

It was not uncommon for players on opposing teams to be showered with beer and swearing as they entered the stadium. Games got physical quickly, and the verbal abuse was legendary. The extracurricular nonsense has been toned down in recent years, but the play on the field is as intense as ever. Check out this year’s War on the Shore, also known as the Charles B. Clarke Cup, over on Cac to the CAC.

NCAA Division 3 Men's Lacrosse-  Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops at Salisbury Sea Gulls

Now we get to the oldest continuous three-way rivalry in college sports, The Little Three! Back in 1899, Wesleyan stepped in to fill the void left by Dartmouth, and play between Amherst, Williams, and Wesleyan commenced in a number of sports. In 1910, the three-way rivalry began in earnest (there were some issues with amateurism) and has not stopped since. Lacrosse started up in 1961, and currently Williams leads the way with 23 (last in 2009), Amherst has 11 (last in 2011), and Wesleyan has 10 (last in 2013). There have also been 7 ties.

Wesleyan Lacrosse Vs Williams

 

Many considered this a two-way rivalry in practical terms because Wesleyan only won 2 titles before 2001. Since then, the Cardinals have won 7 outright titles, and 4 ties. I’m proud to say I never lost a Little Three in lacrosse during my time at Wesleyan (two titles, two ties).

Other D3 Rivalries – Middlebury – Gettysburg was awesome for a time. Cortland – RIT is top notch right now and has been for a couple years at least. Stevenson – Tufts is great. So is Stevenson – Salisbury. Tufts – Wesleyan is always passionate, Bowdoin-Colby-Bates for the pride of Maine is excellent. The list literally goes on an on. Heck, the Centennial alone has more great lacrosse rivalries than I could count! Everyone knows War on the Shore, and everyone should know The Little Three (yes, I am biased there), but that is really only the beginning…

NJCAA Rivalry

It’s hard to say that Onondaga CC has a rival in JuCo lacrosse right now, but if they do, it has to be Nassau CC. Sure, OCC has had some crazy games with CCBC Essex in recent years, and they defeated Essex in 2010 and 2011 for the JuCo title, but Nassau has such rich history in the NJCAA and NCC was the last team other than OCC to win a title (back in 2008). If their physical title game last year is any indication, this rivalry is only just heating up…

It’s Upstate vs Long Island. How perfect is that?

What are some other top notch rivalries in college lacrosse? Don’t just list a couple out… tell us WHY they are great rivalries! Maybe we’ll use your suggestion later this week, and maybe we’ll hook you up with some swag. Just make it good!

About the author

Profile photo of Connor Wilson

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of LacrosseAllStars.com. He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.

4 Comments

  • Rhode Island D3 plays host to the infamous Quahog Cup between Roger Williams and Salve Regina. It’s been rather one-sided event in years past, but the Seahawks resurgence made it a little more interesting this year. Either way, these teams from across the Bay flat out don’t like each other and always play the part. Johnson and Wales entered the fold this year hungry for a share of the chowder but was instead handed a heaping helping of welcome-to-D3 pie. Funny enough JWU is known for their culinary arts which adds flavor to the competition.

  • I’m glad you mentioned Cuse/Hobart as that’s a big one, but for my money, I’ll take a Cuse/Cornell game any day. This has been a battle for years, but in recent times, there has been a flair for the dramatic:
    2006: Syracuse gets the game winner in Ithaca with 48 seconds left.
    2007: Max Siebald takes #1 Cornell to the Dome and goes 1:1 to score the game winner with 4 seconds left. This is a Syracuse team that missed the NCAAs too.
    2008: Cuse controls the whole game, beats #5 Cornell in Ithaca 15-8.
    2009 (1):Syracuse beats #3 Cornell by 5 at the Dome.
    2009 (championship): Craziest lacrosse play ever. Huge comeback, Cuse wins in OT.
    2010: Joel White forces a turnover, runs up the sideline and Cuse wins on a buzzer beater in Ithaca.
    2011: Rob Pannell owns a Cuse team missing John Lade in the Dome to win by 5.
    2012: Cuse’s ugly year & ugly game. Cornell wins by 6 at home.
    2013: Rob Pannell went silent, English hits a crossbar and Cuse wins by 1 at home.
    2014: We’ll see in a few hours!

  • Awesome, insightful comment. Thanks conlax14. GREAT points, and a SERIOUS d1 rivalry to be sure!

    I’m glad you mentioned Cuse/Hobart as that’s a big one, but for my money, I’ll take a Cuse/Cornell game any day. This has been a battle for years, but in recent times, there has been a flair for the dramatic:
    2006: Syracuse gets the game winner in Ithaca with 48 seconds left.
    2007: Max Siebald takes #1 Cornell to the Dome and goes 1:1 to score the game winner with 4 seconds left. This is a Syracuse team that missed the NCAAs too.
    2008: Cuse controls the whole game, beats #5 Cornell in Ithaca 15-8.
    2009 (1):Syracuse beats #3 Cornell by 5 at the Dome.
    2009 (championship): Craziest lacrosse play ever. Huge comeback, Cuse wins in OT.
    2010: Joel White forces a turnover, runs up the sideline and Cuse wins on a buzzer beater in Ithaca.
    2011: Rob Pannell owns a Cuse team missing John Lade in the Dome to win by 5.
    2012: Cuse’s ugly year & ugly game. Cornell wins by 6 at home.
    2013: Rob Pannell went silent, English hits a crossbar and Cuse wins by 1 at home.
    2014: We’ll see in a few hours!

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