To show some love to teams that don’t always get the attention they deserve, we’ve been featuring a handful of programs from various levels of lacrosse to give them the due they don’t often get. It’s now time to focus on undervalued DI men’s lacrosse sides.
What’s the criteria? That’s a gray area, but there are some general guidelines. For the most part, a team cannot be a perennial powerhouse or the first name you think of when someone says their division. More or less, no blue bloods.
Now, let’s highlight some organizations that have earned some respect among the underappreciated lacrosse masses.
Undervalued DI Men’s Lacrosse Programs
A stalwart in the MAAC conference (a league that deserves more attention in its own right), the Red Foxes are often overlooked. Few teams have the ability to hang with just about every opponent they face. Take a look at their shortened 2020 season: they lost to No. 19 Richmond by two before beating a top-10 Army team, 17-9, just four days later.
Their leader, Keegan Wilkinson, has built a DI lacrosse program over the past 10 years that any coach or parent would be proud to send their child to. His resume continues to improve, and while I’m sure he’s had opportunities to move on to more glamourous or better funded universities, his heart is in Poughkeepsie.
It’s not easy being a Jesuit university in Division I athletics, but that didn’t stop Marquette from adding men’s lacrosse in 2011-2012. I would argue that it was one of the school’s smartest decisions, as it took the Golden Eagles just four seasons to reach the NCAA Tournament. In 2016, they beat Villanova and Denver to win the Big East championship before losing, 10-9, to UNC in the NCAA First Round.
Like many teams on this list, MU is a squad capable of beating anyone anywhere, taking the blue blood programs down to the wire countless times over the past eight seasons.
Bobby Mo is the Army/Navy/Georgia Tech football of DI men’s lacrosse. Its style of play is so unique that opposing D coordinators spend many restless nights trying to scheme around it. Sure, plenty of teams have incorporated two-man games, off-season box training, and Canadian recruits into their programs, but has anyone done it to the extent that they have in Moon Township?
I always enjoy watching other teams with two to three times the funding and top-25 recruiting classes show up just to get bodied by an NLL draft pick.
“RMU has fared well under McMinn against nationally-ranked foes, earning six wins since McMinn took over as head coach. The Colonials knocked off No. 18 Ohio State, 9-7, in Columbus in 2012, and later beat No. 20 Bryant that season, 13-12. In 2018, RMU won three consecutive meetings against nationally-ranked opponents, topping No. 16 Penn State (12-9), No. 18 Marquette (12-2), and No. 20 Saint Joseph’s (9-8, OT) all on the road.”RMU Colonials Website
While its wins over ranked teams are impressive, what’s equally impressive is the number of games where the Colonials pushed those teams to the brink, like this season when they almost shocked Duke in early February. If you’re a DI men’s lacrosse program that doesn’t respect Bobby Mo, it’ll teach you a lesson you won’t want to learn.
What more needs to be said than what you see below? Bucknell is an undervalued DI men’s lacrosse program, and I’ve never understood why. The Bison are a top-25 team, beat the teams they’re supposed to, and occasionally topple the ones they aren’t. They’re a handful of two-and-three-goal games away from multiple NCAA births.
Underappreciated Programs Series
Check out the teams from other men’s divisions of college lacrosse that don’t get the love they should: