Scrimmage results don’t mean all that much. And Fall Ball scrimmage results mean even less in the grand scheme of things. That being said, teams definitely gain a lot of perspective from scrimmages, and it’s hard to say they mean nothing. So when 2011 NCAA Division 1 Champion Virginia travels to Top 20 D3 Lynchburg College in Virginia, and only wins 13-9, people are going to talk. Even if, as SwankLax points out in the comments, Virginia only played Freshman and Sophomores. And they should talk!
Now I’m certainly not saying the 13-9 score this week would be the score in the Spring, and I have no idea if Lynchburg OR UVa’s (Fr/So) “starters” played the whole game. Even if they did play the whole game, the score still doesn’t mean all that much, simply because this was a fall scrimmage. So let’s not get TOO caught up in a simple score from a fall ball game.
But I have to be honest, I LOVE seeing a good D3 team play competitively with the best of D1. I played D3 lax in college, and I know how good it is. I’m not using this score to definitively say that D3 lax is as good as D1 lax, and I don’t actually believe that it is, but it certainly is interesting to compare the two. The brief report from Lynchburg’s site also gave us the following “important” info: Lynchburg was up 7-6 at halftime and Mark Cockerton had 5 goals and 3 assists for UVa. Just kidding. That wasn’t important. NONE of this is that important. But it’s fun to know and discuss, isn’t it?
So why do I think this is so interesting? Because a D3 lax team can step onto the field with a top level D1 squad, and actually play with them, even if it’s only their younger guys. And you simply don’t find this parity in a lot of other college sports. As is often the case, the “bigger” the sport, the bigger the difference is between divisions. Imagine a really good D3 football team (like Mt. Union) playing a middle of the road D1 football team (like Rice)! It wouldn’t even be close. The same thing would happen if a D3 basketball team were to take on a good, but not great (Top 20-40) D1 squad. The differences would be staggering.
And yes, I have no doubt that Viriginia is the better team, even thought I didn’t see the game. In fact, I’d bet every team in the NCAA Division 1 Top 20 is better than Lynchburg… but the difference just isn’t that huge. D1 teams have bigger & better star players, better depth, better overall athleticism and size, as well as scholarships and D1 facilities. But the fact that there are still so few D1 teams means that the talent starts to seep down, and make its way onto D2, D3 and MCLA rosters. Coach John Raba, of D3 Wesleyan University made this very point in a recent interview on LAS.
So no, I’m not saying D3 lacrosse is as good as D1 lacrosse overall. But I can definitely appreciate the relative parity our sport enjoys. And as more and more kids and high schools offer the sport, I actually think the gap between D1 and D3 will get SMALLER… unless D1 adds a number of new teams. But that’s pretty exciting too.
Growth is rapidly outstripping the collegiate offering for lacrosse, and this only means higher levels of play across the NCAA board. And it probably means more really good MCLA squads as well. In fact, if D1 NCAA lax doesn’t grow by at least 5 teams in the next 10 years, I could see squads like Salisbury, Cortland, LeMoyne, CW Post, BYU and others become just as good as almost any Top 10-20 D1 team. The best in D1 will still be the best, but that gap could conceivably shrink down to infinitesimally small levels, when compare to other college sports.
Just something cool about our sport that I thought I’d share… now cue the “D3 lax sucks” calls. I know they’re coming…
Photos courtesy Lynchburg Facebook Page.