There are plenty of different ways to measure the success of a lacrosse team. But, the ultimate deciding factor in which is the most storied program is who has the most college lacrosse championships.
Who Has The Most College Lacrosse Championships?
In a sport historically dominated by traditional blue blood programs, only 11 different teams have actually won the NCAA Men’s Division I lacrosse championship. Denver is actually the only university outside of the Eastern Time Zone to have won a national title. The NCAA Men’s Division I tournament began in 1971 after the USILA had awarded the championship from 1936 to 1970. The list includes Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Virginia, North Carolina and Yale. A total of 41 teams have competed in the tournament since its inception. Only seven unseeded teams have ever reached the championship game — the 2016 North Carolina Tar Heels are the only unseeded team to have ever won the title. Typically, it’s been the No. 1 seed that has won the title as that has happened 17 times. There have been 13 undefeated national champions, including the 1973 Maryland Terrapins squad, the 1988 Syracuse Orange team and the 2006 Virginia Cavaliers. For one of the more impressive stats in college athletics, Johns Hopkins has appeared in every tournament except for 1971 and 2013. Virginia won the 2019 tournament most recently for their sixth title.
Out of the 70+ teams that have competed at the Division II level, there have been 14 teams that have won NCAA championships, while there have been 17 teams who have made tournament appearances. The NCAA Division II and Division III combined championship was started in 1974, and lasted through the 1979 season. The NCAA split the championships into NCAA Division II and Division III after the 1979 season. This lasted for two years until 1981, after which there was a 12-year hiatus. The tournament format as we know it was brought back for the 1993 season. During that time, Division II lacrosse teams were allowed to compete as Division I members. Current NCAA Division I members LIU Post, Hobart, Merrimack, UMBC and Towson have all won NCAA Division II championships, while Loyola (MD) has also made an NCAA Division II championship appearance. Limestone has made the most appearances with 12, while Adelphi has won the most NCAA Division II titles with seven. Merrimack won the most recent NCAA Division II title before jumping to the Division I ranks.
Despite the vast number of lacrosse teams compared to the NCAA Division I offering, only 10 teams have won the NCAA Men’s Division III championship. Sixteen different teams have appeared in the tournament. Salisbury has made the most tournament appearances with 18, while Hobart has a one-championship lead over Salisbury with 13. Hobart has won the most NCAA Men’s Lacrosse championships out of any school in any division. Cabrini beat Amherst 16-12 in last year’s NCAA Division III championship.
Women’s lacrosse was added to the NCAA championship program for the 1981-1982 school year. The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) had held championships for women’s sports since 1941, when the organization had held its first national championship with golf. It was the only championship for the group held that year. By the 1981-1982 season, the AIAW held 41 different national championships in 19 sports. At its peak, the AIAW had almost 1,000 member schools. The NCAA began to offer women’s championships in the late 1970s to compete with the AIAW as people began to consider women’s sports to be profitable. When NBC cancelled its contract in the middle of 1982 with the AIAW, the organization collapsed.
The Maryland Terrapins have been the dominant force in NCAA Women’s Division I lacrosse. The ‘Terps have won 14 national titles since their first in 1986, with Northwestern being the next closest team with seven national championships. Twelve different teams have won the NCAA Women’s Division I title. Maryland was the most recent winner of the tournament from last year’s 2019 championship. The ‘Terps have also won the most NCAA Women’s championships in any division, and the women’s lacrosse team has also won the most NCAA lacrosse titles out of any team — including both the men’s and women’s divisions. Incidentally, the University of Maryland has won the most number of lacrosse championships as a school, including both the men’s and women’s divisions.
The NCAA Women’s Division II championship began during the 2000-2001 school year. Adelphi has been the dominant force in Women’s Division II lacrosse, as they have taken home nine of the trophies in 10 championship appearances. Adelphi won the most recent title in 2019. LIU Post has won four titles in five appearances for the next best record. Nine teams have won an NCAA Women’s Division II title.
The NCAA Women’s Division III championship began in 1985. The College of New Jersey has won an NCAA Women’s Division III best 12 total national championships, with their most recent coming in 2006. The College of New Jersey also won the 1992 championship — what would have been their 13th title — but was vacated due to playing an ineligible player. Middlebury, last year’s title-winner, has won seven championships in 10 appearances. Fourteen teams have appeared in the championship game, with 10 different programs winning the title.
So, now you know who has the most college lacrosse championships!