For the most part, the MCLA consists of large universities. These universities do well in the league because they have a large student population to get players from. However, plenty of small schools succeed in the MCLA and have had consistently great programs. About ten years ago, a school with under 4,000 students in a non-traditional area won their conference six straight times and still holds the record for most conference championships. That school is the Western Oregon Men’s Lacrosse program.
Western Oregon University is located in Monmouth, about an hour southwest of Portland and an hour away from the coast. They have NCAA Division II athletics, play in the GNAC, and have a student population of around 3,700. The team started around 2004 and started their championship run just four years later in 2008. The Wolves went 11-3 that year and 8-1 in the conference thanks to their explosive offense, which averaged 15 goals a game and scored over 20 six times. They also had four players score 60+ points, led by Calvin Davis, who had 86. They won their first-round game by 16 but lost the next round to eventual champions Westminster.
Over the next three seasons, all led by Head Coach Dave Homma, featured the Wolves dominating the conference with great players on both sides of the ball. During this period, they picked up multiple new 60+ point scorers and locked down poles yearly, all of which being guys from the Portland area and other parts of Oregon. In 2009 they won in the first round again, beating now NCAA Division III Southwestern, before losing in the second round again.
In 2012, Justin Eckenroad, a 2x All-PNCLL midfielder at Oregon, took over as Head Coach. That season they started to play more challenging out-of-conference competition which led to a worse record, but they ended the season as conference champions in 2012 and 2013, capping off a six-peat.
The Western Oregon lacrosse run ended in 2014 when they lost to Western Washington. However, they still made nationals and won in the first round to get their third and most recent nationals win. After that, the team stayed competitive but never at the level they once were, and also went through a couple of coaches. 2022 was their last season listed on the MCLA website, so it’s tough to tell if they played in 2023. Recently, they posted on their Instagram that they are looking for players and coaches, so there’s a good chance they’ll be back.