To show some love to teams at various levels that don’t always get the attention they deserve, we’re continuing a series to shine a light on underappreciated lacrosse programs. Next up: Division II men’s lacrosse.
What’s the criteria? That’s a gray area, but there are some general guidelines. For the most part, a team cannot be a perennial powerhouse or the first name you think of when someone says their division. For example, Salisbury isn’t underappreciated – we all know they’re amazing and the regular top dog in the NCAA.
Now, let’s highlight some organizations that have earned some respect among the underappreciated lacrosse masses.
Underappreciated Division II Men’s Lacrosse Programs
First things first: this list was extremely difficult to put together. There’s tons of talented teams across Division II, and to pick four programs is extremely difficult. It’s been an argument for years that Division II doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and I’m all in on that bandwagon. There are coaches and players roaming the sidelines in the SAC, NE-10, ECC, SSC, and CC who could play for the top teams in any division.
This year is going to be like none other. You’re going to see upsets all over the place. Programs in parts of the country that have less restrictions will have an upper hand, while the ones that don’t will play some catch up. Here’s my rule for this list: if you showed up in the preseason top 20, you weren’t considered.
Head coach Peter Bourque has been a staple in southern Division II men’s lacrosse. He always has a solid team that is ready to upset someone. For years, Catawba struggled with a consistent surface to play and practice on, but that issue was taken care of.
With the completion of their turf field, I think Bourque will have his boys in Salisbury, North Carolina, ready to go this spring. While thte SAC has gotten stronger with the addition of Limestone, Catawba is always ready to play anybody, anytime.
Located in Colchester, Vermont, Saint Mike’s is always one of those teams that seems to give everyone a hard time, much like Catawba. The NE-10 has always been a dogfight, and this year will be no different. Don’t forget, this is the same program that scored one of the biggest upsets in Division II men’s lacrosse history when it beat Adelphi in 2002 – another year that has unforeseen circumstances, with a brutal winter snowstorm that limited practice time for everyone in the Northeast.
Who was the first team in history from the Sunshine State to make the national championship? Yes, it was the Lions from Saint Leo, Florida.
In a stacked conference, the Lions have always been in the mix and always played a grueling schedule. Head coach Brad Jorgenson always has a tough squad with a mixture of players from all over, and his teams have been insanely fun to watch in years past. The conference is again loaded this season, and everyone is getting better. But make sure you don’t sleep on the Lions. This was a bit of a toss up for me, because I also feel Rollins is insanely underrated.
The boys out in Salt Lake City, Utah, are a team that everyone forgets about. Tons of talent, very athletic, and very well coached, Westminster is the Division II version of Whittier (don’t sleep on the Poets, either). It has grueling travel, and with the RMAC being so spread out, it is very difficult to get into a rhythm. Lots of great lacrosse is being played out in Utah, and it’s going to be really exciting to see this program and the entire state progress as the years go on.
Top 20 Teams That Need More Love
Mercyhurst – People take for granted just how good this program is. Head coach Chris Ryan and the Lakers should be talked about more. This is another team that will take on anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Wingate – Lenoir-Rhyne is getting love it absolutely deserves, but don’t forget about the team that beat the Bears in the SAC championship in 2018 and 2019.
2021 Division II Men’s Lacrosse Sleepers – Newberry, SNHU, Palm Beach Atlantic, Coker
Underappreciated Programs Series
Check out the teams from other men’s divisions of college lacrosse that don’t get the love they should: