There have been many college lacrosse dynasties throughout history. Johns Hopkins made it to nine Division I National Championships from 1978 to 1987 and won six. Le Moyne made it to eight Division II National Championships from 2006-2016 and won four. Hobart won 12 straight DIII National Championships from 1980-1991. There have also been some MCLA dynasties such as Colorado State, BYU, and Michigan. However, out of all of the leagues and divisions, there is one dynasty currently going strong that does not get as much recognition as the others. That lacrosse dynasty is the University of St. Thomas in MCLA DII.
The University of St. Thomas is located in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has a student population of about 6,000 undergraduates and 3,000 graduate students. Until this past school year, St. Thomas competed in Division III athletics, but this year they made the transition to Division I, which did not affect their MCLA team.
Founded in the 1980s, the team’s dynasty started in 2009 when they won their first MCLA DII National Championship over Dayton at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, CO. They went on to make the next four National Championships beating Utah Valley, Grand Valley State, Westminster, and losing to Davenport. The next two years they made it to the Final Four, and then in 2016 they won their fifth championship over Grand Valley State.
After losing the next two finals to Concordia-Irvine and North Dakota State, they won their sixth and most recent championship in 2019 over Dayton bringing their total to six. In 2021, they won the unofficial MCLA DII Championship, and in 2022 they made it to the Final Four. In total, the past 12 full seasons they won six finals, lost three, and lost in the Final Four three times giving them a playoff record of 37-6 (0.86).
One of the biggest reasons for their success has been the hiring of alumni as assistants and head coaches. Peter Moosbrugger, the Tommies coach for their first championship played for St. Thomas from 1996-2000 and was on the football team as well. After he stepped down in 2014, Brian Gross took over as Head Coach. He played from 2002-2005 and became and assistant immediately after graduating while also earning his JD from St. Thomas at the same time. He had assistants that also played for the Tommies including, Jason King who was 2x All-American from 2007-2010 and became the Head Coach in 2020. Current assistants include Austin Dover (2x All-American), Erik Thysse (4x All-American), Ryan McNeil (2x All-American), Jon Harris, and Sam Kepner, all five of who played for St. Thomas.
It is extremely difficult to attain a consistent level of success in any sport at any level. The St. Thomas Tommies Men’s Lacrosse team has been able to do so by maintaining a championship culture, competing hard, and valuing alumni in coaching roles. The first two factors are difficult to emulate, however the strategy of “keeping it in the family” when it comes to coaches is something all teams should consider.