Stevenson - Tufts Lacrosse at Towson
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Is Stevenson Really Leaving The CAC For The MAC?

Stevenson University, formerly known as Villa Julie College, is located down in Maryland and they have a great lacrosse team that has really grown into a national championship contender over the past 5 years or so.  Right now, they play in the Capital Athletic Conference with teams like Salisbury, St. Mary’s, York, Hood, and a host of other schools.  But starting in July of 2012, all Stevenson sports teams will begin competition in the MAC.

This is a huge move for DIII Lacrosse and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.  Here’s why:

Right now, Stevenson and Salisbury are, by far and away, the best two teams in both the CAC and the entire South Region.  They are often the only two teams out of the CAC that are up for consideration for the NCAAs as well.  Before Stevenson came up, Salisbury was THE top dog, and Stevenson’s arrival as a powerhouse certainly elevated the stature of the CAC.  They now had 2 teams that could beat anyone, and were almost a lock to take a Pool C bid every year, along with the Pool A AQ bid the conference winner would get.

The MAC, which is not regarded as a particularly strong conference for men’s lacrosse, also got a Pool A bid for their conference champion.  But now that Stevenson will be joining the MAC, those teams will not have the same opportunity to make the NCAAs.  FDU-Florham, Lycoming and Widener all have, or have had, decent lacrosse teams recently, but none of them are on the same level as Stevenson.

Salisbury - Stevenson Lacrosse CAC Final Tony Mendes
I’ll miss the CAC Finals. They just won’t be the same!

So this means that another Pool C slot will open back up starting in 2013, and the loser of the CAC Finals probably won’t be getting a bid to the dance.  For Salisbury, things will go back to the way they were, where the Gulls were the undisputed Kings of the Capital.  Stevenson will continue to win the MAC for what I would envision is years, and neither conference will produce a consistent Pool C contender.

So who will benefit the most from Stevenson moving to the MAC?  Not Stevenson.  They made the NCAAs no matter what.  Not Salisbury.  They’ll still win their conference or get a bid, with out without the Mustangs.  Not the other CAC teams either.  They can make the tourney is they improve, but that has little to do with Stevenson being in their conference… they just have to get better.  And DEFINITELY not the teams in the MAC.  Their NCAA hopes just went right out the window.

No, the teams that will benefit from this move are up North, in the NESCAC and Empire 8.

Stevens Lacrosse lax Springfield Lacrosse 2011
Stevens (NJ) could see a benefit from Stevenson leaving the CAC for the MAC.

Weird, right?  But it makes sense.

Stevenson and Salisbury used to fight over one AQ, and then the loser usually got a Pool C bid.  Well now, they will BOTH be fighting for separate AQs, and against weaker teams.  And this will open up another Pool C bid, and it will likely go to Norther teams that don’t win their conferences like Amherst, Nazareth, Trinity, Stevens and even a school like Geneseo, where true parity exists.

Stevenson has to be happy.  They’re moving to a conference that they can absolutely dominate for years to come.  Salisbury has to be happy because they are back on top of the CAC with no questions asked.  The teams in the MAC must love better competition, but must also realize that they need to make improvements rapidly if they want to compete in the future.  The teams that are happiest though are hundreds of miles away up North… licking their chops at the prospect of another Pool C bid.