2016 has been a great year for women’s lacrosse at US Service Academies. Not only did we see the first ever NCAA D1 Army-Navy women’s game, but the US Coast Guard Academy, in New London, CT, also announced that they will be adding NCAA D3 lacrosse to their athletic programming for women.
Let me put it to you another way. 2 years ago, ONE of FOUR service academies offered varsity women’s lacrosse. Now THREE of FOUR will offer varsity women’s lacrosse. WOAH.
Photo Credit: Rob Berkenblit
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Service Academies Go Co-Ed
Approximately 40 years ago, the US Service Academies were all male institutions. A new law opened all of the schools to women decades ago, and while changes were slow at times, enrollment has risen, and almost all of the service academies now state that at least 20% of their students are female.
With the rise in enrollment, D1 athletic offerings improved on the women’s side, and now we are seeing a full buy-in for women’s lacrosse.
2016 Service Academies – Women’s Lacrosse
2016 was a historic season for Army Lacrosse, and I’m not talking about the men’s team flirtation with the playoffs… I’m talking about the Army women pulling in FIVE big wins during their first year of varsity competition!
Sure, the Black Knights lost to every single Patriot League team they played. And yes, they also lost to Quinnipac, Manhattan, and Winthrop… but they also won five games in their first year, and in some of their losses, they kept it really close. But above all that, we got to see another Army-Navy game of lacrosse! How can you not love that?!?!?!
While Navy won the game handily, 11-5, the score bodes well for competitive matches in years to come. If you can add on another layer to this amazing rivalry, and do so in lacrosse, what’s not to love?
Personally, I thought this was likely one of the coolest, and least talked about, games of the year!
To complete the D1 women’s lacrosse service academy triumvirate, Air Force would have to start a D1 program as well. Currently, AFA women’s lacrosse plays as a club sport in the WCLA Division 1. They went 1-10 last year, and moved up from Division 2 in 2016. Progress is being made, but it’s slow so far.
Navy had a solid year of their own going 13-6. While they didn’t beat any top 20 teams, they did go 7-2 in the Patriot League, and win a PL playoff game over BU before falling at Loyola, 12-8, in the Patriot playoffs.
Over on the D3 women’s side, the Coast Guard Academy seems to have even more potential than any other service academy, and this is true for two reasons:
- The USCGA is almost 40% women right now. They have the numbers.
- The USCGA plays D3 lacrosse, and they simply don’t have as far to climb.
With a beautiful campus, other colleges nearby, great facilities, and a local recruiting landscape, the USCGA women’s lacrosse program could be poised for success.
Overall, it’s wonderful to see the game spreading more and more on the women’s side. Programs are popping up all over the place, but to see this kind of growth in one year from military academies is truly impressive.
Historically, our service academies are slower to react to trends like adding new sports, paying coaches ridiculous salaries, or building huge and fancy stadiums, so when they do move, you know a well thought out plan is in place. You know the academies see the move as a well-researched winner.
So to the women’s lacrosse community I say, “Well done! Keep it up! Grow the Game.”