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Who Does It Better? The D1 Lacrosse Newbies

Welcome to our brand new series, Who Does It Better? We will showcase one match-up each week in which we put two people, places or even things up against each other and ask you, the reader, Who Does It Better? It’s all good-hearted fun though, and that should be pretty prevalent by our match-ups. Know of a good match-up we should feature? Let us know!

In today’s match-up, we pit two of newbies to the NCAA D1 ranks up against each other – the University of Michigan and High Point University. We were super excited to see both of these schools start up NCAA D1 programs, and are eager to see their growth as each one fills in their D1 shoes.

While Michigan might already have an actual year of NCAA D1 play under their belt already, we still want to take a look at who made the transition better. There is no textbook on how to properly add an NCAA lacrosse program, especially at the D1 level, but we can certainly look at how successful each program has been, and try to base some conclusions on that. As with most things, at the end of the day, it’s a “to each their own” kind of scenario.

As long as programs keep moving up and remain successful at any given level, we are more than happy!

Please remember! This is all in good fun, we love everyone featured in this series and couldn’t be more appreciative of their contributions to our great game!

University of Michigan Lacrosse

Michigan was the first FBS school to add men’s lacrosse since Notre Dame did it in 1981 and in an essence, opened the door for a lot of other school’s to do it as well. Since Michigan made the jump, several other schools have also either flirted with the idea of adding an NCAA lacrosse program, or went out and did it – as with our second team in the match-up.

Michigan vs. Bellarmine Lacrosse Game 47

Michigan’s jump to NCAA D1 was as good a transition as you could hope for, with the Wolvernies being an elite MCLA squad, then making the move to the NCAA. Michigan finished their final season in the MCLA in 2011 and made the move to the NCAA D1 the very next year.

They kept their head coach John Paul, and even gave their MCLA players a chance to make their D1 roster. While not everyone may agree with their thinking, it was a great show of loyalty to the players who helped keep that program successful and growing, and their transition has been something that has been discussed in relation to Marquette’s recent jump to NCAA D1 as well.

If you look at the Wolverines current roster, of the 46 players listed, they have 14 remaining players that were on the 2011 MCLA roster. Their first year at the D1 ranks, they had 22 players from their MCLA squad on the roster.

Michigan’s first year success was very small scale. Off the field, it seems as though the University is completely behind the program. On the field, however, Michigan only managed to go 1-13 (3-17 if you include exhibitions) on the season with their lone win over Mercer. Off their 17 losses, they had two in OT and eight by 3-4 goals.

This year has been going much better for the Big Blue, starting off the season (unofficially) 2-1. They took down Marquette (14-6) and Denison (11-4) in early exhibitions and lost their home opener to a strong #15 Penn State (11-6).

Michigan has another tough slate of games this season with contests against JHU, Army, Colgate, Loyola, Denver, and Ohio State. Definitely look to see some improvement from the Wolverines as they compete in their second year at the NCAA D1 ranks.

High Point University Lacrosse

High Point University is another newbie to the NCAA D1 ranks. While they took a different road to compete in their first official season this year than Michigan did, they are seeing a good mix of wins, losses, and close games (if you can surmise all that from a 1-2 record!).

High Point Lacrosse - Matt Thistle

Their first game was against Delaware and ended in a tight 12-10 loss for the Panthers. Last weekend, HPU picked up their first win against Towson (9-7), and then lost to Air Force (14-4) two days later. These are three solid NCAA D1 teams, so competing as they did against them is a great way to start their inaugural season. That first win is special too!

Where did this team come from though? They certainly weren’t a dominant MCLA program and for the most part, HPU have been relatively quiet in the media circles. While the Big Blue definitely went BIG and jumped right in, HPU took their time, practiced and held scrimmages for two seasons, and really made the transition smooth from their first start as a team in 2010-11. I personally love Coach Torpey’s philosophy of creating a solid foundation of fundamentals before moving forward, compromise speed for form.

Last year, HPU held scrimmages against a mix of MCLA and MLL teams. The records show they went 3-0 against Clemson (8-2), Virginia Tech (6-5), and Wake Forest (8-2). Clemson and Va Tech are both top 25 MCLA D1 teams. As for the MLL side of things, it is a little harder to tell, but LaxMagazine ran an article about the Charlotte Hounds which briefly touched on one of their scrimmages with HPU, that “the Hounds won easily”.

So lax nation, Who Does It Better? Michigan, who went for the ‘trial by fire’ mindset and jumped right into play the very next season? Or High Point, who took a year off to get their ducks in a row and have come out strong in their first year of NCAA D1 play?