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D1 Lacrosse Game In Canada Is BRILLIANT!

On Tuesday, March 8th, there will be a D1 Lacrosse game played in Canada.

We’re talking about Oshawa, Ontario to be precise. This is the first time it’s ever happened, I can’t believe it’s never happened before, and the move is an absolutely brilliant one, and a potential coup for both programs involved. Both Vermont and Canisius made a bold, but smart, move here!

Wait you say… Vermont and Canisius are playing… who cares about that?

Well, first off that’s offensive, and second… you’re not exactly wrong. Neither Vermont nor Canisius are what most people would refer to as power programs, and without a marquee program involved, I can understand why some people might have their doubts as to this game being a good idea.

I for one, do not have any doubts.

ANY D1 Lacrosse Game In Canada Is GOOD!

Here’s why:

First off, both teams have solid Canadian numbers already. There are 12 players from either Ontario or Quebec, Randy Mearns is a Canadian and coached Canada to the Gold in 2014, and for kids to have access to D1 lacrosse for the first time in Ontario is a no brainer. People will go. If this were one of 5 games being played in Canada, people might not go, but this is the FIRST and ONLY D1 game in Canada. I’d expect a solid crowd.

Why else is this game attractive? Because BOTH schools are a good fit for Canadian players looking to play NCAA ball!

Canisius is located around Buffalo, NY. You know what’s close to Buffalo? That’s right, Canada. What city in Canada? Toronto. To drive there from Buffalo, you need to travel through Burlington, Oakville, and Mississauga. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s usually some lacrosse talent there. Keep going around Lake Ontario and you pass through Whitby and into Oshawa. Without traffic that’s about a 2 hour drive. It’s really all kind of local!

d1 lacrosse game in canada
Burlington, VT is where the “V” in Vermont is on the map.

Vermont is in a slightly different boat, as they aren’t close to Toronto, but they do have some proximity to Montreal and smaller places like Sherbrooke. And they also have a LONG-standing tradition of Canadian hockey players hitting the NCAA ranks as Catamounts. Also, they have SIX guys from Ontario (and one from Quebec) on their roster already, so the draw is clearly there.

By going to play a game in Canada, both of these schools are showing some of the top young talent out there that they care, and if you don’t think that matters, just look at where some of the top D1 programs agree to play games so far this year.

  • Notre Dame vs Maryland in California – WHY? Um, probably to let their alums out west see a game, right? Sure, that’s it! Or is it… RECRUITING? It’s recruiting. ND and Maryland want big, talented athletes from California. A football recruit who will choose lacrosse. The son of an NFL legend… and if you want to lure these kids in, it doesn’t hurt to play in front of them, live.
  • Duke vs Harvard on Long Island – Was this because so many of the of current players on both rosters are from Long Island? Maybe on a tangent, but the real reason is that both of these schools want MORE kids from Long Island to come to their school. There is no better exposure than firsthand exposure.
  • Did you ever wonder how some lower rated teams on Long Island or in other hotbeds always seem to host top tier D3 teams? Is this because the top level teams are just being nice? NO. It is so that their program gets seen by some stud in person, and then he goes there. It happens regularly.

I could go on and bore you, but I won’t. The point is, smart recruiting schools play games in front of the kids they want to recruit however they can. It’s been done on Long Island, Baltimore and in other areas for decades. More recently games have been played in California and Colorado, and Florida, but this is the first such game in Canada, and for me, it makes for a genius move.

Canisius and Vermont can now build relationships even easier in Canada. “Come watch us play next year”… who else can say that? “You won’t get homesick, and even if you do, we travel to Toronto each spring, so you can see your family and friends” Ok, coach! Is it really all this simple? No and yes.

The “no” part revolves around the fact that so much more goes into recruiting than just playing one game in Canada. How attractive is the school? What’s the scholarship situation? Can foreign students get aid somehow financially? Who else is recruiting the kid? What do they have to offer? The list goes on and on…

The “yes” part assumes that Canisius and Vermont can get the above done. Mearns has built up a solid team before at Canisius, and is known as a players’ coach. The proximity to home for some of these guys will be tempting. I can see it happening again. And Ryan Curtis at Vermont seems to have found his groove, and the school has stepped up their support. It’s really ripe for Canadian players, and if you’ve watched them play this year, you can see the influence on the offense already. They play a fun, creative style, and anyone with a high level box background could find a way to fit in and score.

While this game isn’t Syracuse vs Yale, or Denver vs North Carolina, it is still a D1 game being played in Canada. It’s being played there for a reason, and I’m still shocked it’s taken this long. Kudos to Vermont and Canisius for making it happen first. They won’t be the last.