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Should NJIT Lacrosse Be Ranked?

What a season it’s been so far for NJIT Lacrosse, jumping to an incredible 7-0 start and defying all expectations. This turnaround has been remarkable for a program historically seen at the bottom of Division 1 since its inception in 2015. The Highlanders, with a pre-2024 record of 10-102, were often viewed as an easy win on any competitor’s schedule. Yet, under the helm of Head Coach Eric Wolf, NJIT is rewriting the programs standard, challenging the narrative that some programs are destined to sit at the “bottom of the barrel.”

The transformation began last season under Wolf’s leadership, leading NJIT to a program-best 3-10 record. This improvement, while modest, hinted at a shift in the program’s trajectory. Eric Wolf, with a diverse coaching background that spans LIU, Harvard, UAlbany, and Siena, brought a wealth of experience to Highlander Nation. His tenure at LIU showcased his ability to navigate transitions, moving from Division II to Division I, and securing conference tournament qualifications despite the challenges of such a significant shift.

This season, NJIT’s 7-0 record is not just a statistic; it’s a testament to a program reborn. Achieving a potential 10-win season would mirror the program’s cumulative victories over nine years, a milestone that showcases Wolf’s influence and the team’s resilience. However, the debate about NJIT’s lack of a national ranking is puzzling to me. Yes, they are undefeated, but their victories come against teams that collectively struggle on a national scale. Their seven victories have come against opponents holding a combined 9-34 record. The America East conference, while NJIT currently sits at No.1, shows a collective 12-26 record, placing a question mark over the weight of NJIT’s potential upcoming wins. This is not meant to be a dig at NJIT but more of a reality check as to why the team sits outside of the rankings.

Yet, the significance of NJIT’s achievements transcends rankings. Eric Wolf and his team have ignited hope where there was none, showcasing that with the right leadership and vision, any program can redefine its future. This narrative serves as a textbook case study for athletic directors and coaches across Division 1 Lacrosse, emphasizing that a program’s underperformance is not a set-in-stone conclusion.

As NJIT heads into America East play, their performance will be the true test. Success here could solidify their case for a spot in the national rankings. Regardless of the outcome, NJIT’s journey from perennial underdog to an undefeated start is deserving of recognitionThe story of NJIT Lacrosse is far from over, but already, it serves as an inspiring chapter in the larger narrative of Division 1 Lacrosse. It’s a lesson in perseverance, strategic rebuilding, and the transformative power of effective leadership. Eric Wolf and NJIT have not just changed the trajectory of a lacrosse program; they’ve redefined what’s possible, setting a precedent that will be analyzed and admired for years to come.