Oregon, and specifically the Portland area, has produced a lot of great lacrosse players, such as former No.1 overall MLL pick and Tewaaraton Winner, Peter Baum (Lincoln/Colgate), MCLA legend and former MLL player Connor Martin (Lakeridge/Chapman), current Whipsnakes pole Colin Squires (West Linn/Denver), and many more who had success at the college and pro level.
The area is producing more great players than ever, such as Sam Handley (Jesuit/Penn) and Tucker Dordevic (Edison/Syracuse/Georgetown), who were each PLL first-round picks this year. High school lacrosse has been growing; more schools are getting teams, and teams are improving yearly. Despite all of this, lacrosse at the college level is going down. Seven schools are located within an hour of Portland that all once had teams at the MCLA level for multiple years that no longer play in the league, and five don’t play at any level. The University of Portland and Western Oregon are the expectations as they both have a team but are not currently in the MCLA. Oregon, Oregon State, and Southern Oregon all play in the MCLA and have had solid programs.
Below is a look at the seven college lacrosse programs in Oregon who have left the MCLA.
A private Christian school located in Northeast Portland. They only have about 500 students and host NAIA athletics. This past season was their first and final season. They finished 2-3 and were coached by Keegan Matsukado, the University of Portland’s most recent coach.
Western Oregon is located in Monmouth, about an hour outside of Portland, so not really part of the area, but I figured I’d include them. They are an NCAA DII school (GNAC) with about 4,000 students. They weren’t officially in the MCLA this past season, but just hired former Second Team PNCLL Attackman, Wyatt Livengood, and plan to play in the MCLA for the 2024 season. The most storied of the Oregon DII programs, they have six conference championships, which is tied for the most in PNCLL with Montana. I detailed their championship runs in this article.
University of Portland
The University of Portland is a Catholic, NCAA DI (West Coast Conference) school located in the University Park neighborhood of Portland overlooking the Willamette River with around 4,000 students. The Pilots started playing in 2009 in the PNCLL DII. They were conference runners up in 2011-13 and 2015. Their last season was 2019, they finished 3-7 under Head Coach Keegan Matsukado and Assistant Coach Joel Donnelly. This upcoming season they’ll be taking the field again, but won’t officially be back in the MCLA yet. They’ll be student coached and emphasize player input.
Portland State University
Portland State is a public, NCAA DI (Big West) school in Portland that has about 26,000 students. They joined the MCLA in 2009 and started PNCLL DI, but moved to PNCLL DII in 2015, and last played in 2018. Despite not playing since then, they had two alumni play at the 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship; Fabian Finster played for Switzerland and Nikolaj Lund suited up for Denmark.
Another one that’s not really in the Portland area, but I figured I’d include it. Willamette is located in Salem, about an hour south of Portland. They also are NCAA DII (NWC) with close to 2,500 students. They started playing in the 70s/80 and played their last MCLA season in 2012.
Lewis & Clark
This school of about 5,000 in Portland started playing in 1997 and won their first and only PNCLL DII Championship in 2003. They last played in 2008 before Portland or PSU even really got their programs started.
Linfield is similar to Willamette in terms of distance to the city and school size. Located in the suburb of McMinnville with an enrollment of 2,000 and host NCAA DIII athletics. They started playing pretty early on in the 90s, finished as conference runners-up in 2002, and stopped playing in 2007.
The University of Portland and Western Oregon give hope that these schools can and will return to playing once again. These teams are all student ran and often need more school support. They usually need more funding from the schools, have trouble raising money, and need more numbers due to low enrollment with no time or budget to recruit. Once teams start again, they will get more financial and moral support from these schools and find models to run a sustainable program. We look forward to watching college lacrosse in Oregon grow.