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Midfield U: Who Has Produced the Best Midfielders?

Welcome to something special: Position U. In this six-part series, your favorite college lacrosse lover, Ryan Conwell, will break down the NCAA DI men’s programs that can consider themselves the best at producing a given position in recent history. First, let’s get into who produces the best lacrosse midfielders, a.k.a. Midfield U.

When trying to determine which schools have a reputation for producing the best players at a certain position, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. It’s easy enough to just create a list off the top of your head, but in an effort to try and be as objective as possible, I of course lean on my old friend: math! I needed to find a way to consistently note which players could be considered better than others while also doing so in a manner which could be calculated in some way.

The result was making a formula that took into account All-America votes (via USILA), Postseason awards, and also success at the Pro Level. For that last piece, I considered draft picks and rounds, but depending on the year, too many players get drafted and never play, or play a limited amount of time. So instead, I looked at All-Star rosters across the MLL and PLL to give an additional nudge.

The next question was how far back to look. Since we’re dealing with college, going beyond 4 years was a given. One great recruiting class does not mean your school is all of a sudden the best at producing defenders. We need a long enough trend to make a real pattern emerge. So, I went to 10 years, but the year 2020 kind of stuck out. Because, well, *you know why*. To make up for 2020’s lack of postseason awards and all-star games, I added 2011 to the mix as well. More is better, right?

The benefit of going all the way back to 2011 for pro all-star games is it gave some of those wily vets a chance to impact the rankings of their schools as well. That way there’s a small nod to the true history of a program in addition to the heavily-weighted recent past. So mashing all these numbers together produced a list of the top programs to produce players at each position.

An important note for this particular position is that it also included SSDMs as the specialists were not always broken out into their own position and are eligible for the annual McLaughlin Award. So, which program has produced the best lacrosse midfielders to earn the title of recent history’s “Midfield U?”


3: Syracuse

The Orange were capturing all of the headlines going into this past season for a dominant midfield, but that really is nothing new. Over the years, they turned in three First Team All-Americans, six Second Teamers, three Third Team players, and a whopping 14 honorable mentions, which tops the list of schools. They were actually tied with Hopkins when it comes to pro accolades, which was mostly led by Matt Abbott and JoJo Marasco.

2: Duke

The Blue Devils absolutely dominated this list in two areas: postseason awards and First Team All-Americans. While Myles Jones definitely was a major part of them rising up the list, fellow First Teamers also included Rob Rotanz, Dave Lawson, Deemer Class, Will Haus, Brad Smith, and most recently Nakeie Montgomery.

1: Maryland

This likely comes as no surprise to see the Terps on top here. Where they really separated from the rest of the schools on the list was their success at the pro level (also not a surprise). But Maryland’s ability to turn in All-Americans year after year should not be understated. It had the second most First Team All-American awards and the most for Third Teamers.

Honorable Mentions:

Didn’t see who you thought you would up there? Here’s how the next bunch finished in our Midfield U, in order:

4: Princeton

5: Johns Hopkins

6: Notre Dame

7: Virginia

8: Denver

9: North Carolina

10: Cornell

Position U Series

You can find the rest of the Position U series here, which will include Attack U, Defense U, Faceoff U, Midfielder U, LSM U, and Goalie U, with a new one coming each week into early November.