MCLA lacrosse programs often don’t get the attention they deserve.
Let’s be honest: we all think that our favorite team is the only one that matters. Clicking through articles looking for any mention of our squad, being frustrated when they’re not there, it’s all just part of being a fan.
Still, there are plenty of teams that legitimately don’t get enough love. So, we’re here to try and change that. Anybody can do a quick Google search and find a zillion articles about teams like Syracuse, but we’re taking some time this preseason to shout out some less-covered programs across all levels of college lacrosse.
Today, we’re talking about MCLA lacrosse. Famous for producing Con Bro Chill (shoutout Chapman), one of the sickest goals in playoff lacrosse history, and giving thousands of players the opportunity to continue playing lacrosse after high school, the MCLA has plenty of name-brand programs. If you’ve somehow managed to miss out on, say, Oregon’s team gear, well, this is going to be the last mention of it. Instead of talking about those big powerhouse MCLA programs that lacrosse fans everywhere at least have heard of, we’re going to dive a little deeper, starting with the MCLA’s DI (there are two divisions, primarily decided by school size).
If you read through this and don’t see your team, please understand that we personally hate your school. Kidding! Picking three squads was hard, so please cut your lowly guide through MCLA lacrosse a little slack here.
Underappreciated MCLA Lacrosse Programs
Fun fact: the MCLA is the only American college lacrosse league to secretly be an international league. That’s right, we started off by sneaking over the (still closed) Canadian border and into Burnaby, British Columbia, home to Simon Fraser University and its lacrosse team, the SFU Clan. Established in 1996, the Clan currently have the most PNCLL titles out of any DI program, having won the conference nine times. They’ve made it to nationals 11 times, having received at-large bids in addition to their autobids as the PNCLL champions.
The Clan have also managed to produce a pair of NLL players over the past two decades. Curtis Manning, who went on to play in the NLL and represent Team Canada at the 2010 World Games, was an MCLA All-American twice during his days in Burnaby, before being selected No. 6 overall in the 2008 draft. Despite being drafted in 2008, Manning returned to SFU, where he was the conference MVP in both 2009 and 2010 before going on to make the 2010 NLL All-Rookie team.
Additionally, Sam Clare of the Vancouver Warriors was a member of the Clan in his college days. Although he was an All-American attackman at SFU, he went on to become a professional defenseman in the NLL, breaking out in the 2020 season with 8 points and 4 CTs in eight games before the season was shut down.
The OG powerhouse of MCLA lacrosse, Colorado State might’ve gotten a little quieter recently, but there’s not a single MCLA program with a deeper, richer history of consistent success than the Rams.
The all-time record holders for MCLA titles, the Rams have won six national championships, with their most recent having come in 2013. They also were the very first MCLA team to send a field player to the pros when goalie Alex Smith (who would later go on to coach CSU to multiple national championships) made the active roster for the Denver Outlaws.
In 2020, the Rams were off to a 3-0 start before the season was postponed (and later cancelled), continuing a strong run for the CSU program for head coach Ryan MacDonald, a former Ram who helped lead the team to its fourth national championship in 2006, where he was named the team’s MVP and an All-American. In fact, all four coaches on staff for the Rams are alumni of the program, which continues to highlight not only the success of the program, but how much the “family” motto of the team means to its former players.
Additionally, the Rams were coached for a significant portion of their history by the legendary Flip Naumburg, the creator of the Rock-It Pocket and a head coach who won a record four MCLA titles as the head coach of the Rams.
One of those programs routinely mentioned as one of the possible “next team up” candidates for going DI, the Sun Devils have been a powerhouse program for a long time in MCLA lacrosse. Unable to quite get over the hump, they still post one of the best overall records in DI history, having made the Final Four six times between 2008-2014, including five straight appearances.
Those championship appearances might not have broken ASU’s way, but the team put up a hell of a fight each time, losing by a combined four goals in its three title appearances. Still, this is a program that’s hard to top. The Sun Devils select between hundreds of players trying out each season and are a mainstay in the MCLA top 25.
Underappreciated Programs Series
Check out the teams from other men’s divisions of college lacrosse that don’t get the love they should: