Big League Clu tells you a brief history of lacrosse and previews the top teams heading into this year’s tournament season.
Thats right everyone! Im back from my extended vacation to cover a little east coast sport known as lacrosse. Many people might not realize this, but lacrosse is probably one of the oldest recorded sports in American History! Well that is why I am here…to educate and inform.
A Brief History of Lacrosse
One of the more physically demanding sports in North America, Lacrosse has been played (in one way or another) since 1100 AD by Native Americans… although their version is much different than what we see today. The traditional Native American version consisted of teams of about 100 to 1,000 men on a field that stretched anywhere from 500 meters to three kilometers. Oh, and the competitions lasted from sunup to sundown for roughly two-to-three days straight… Only two-to-three days?? Bunch of wimps if ya ask me! The game was said to have been played “for the Creator” to show a spiritual involvement in the game.
Moving forward a few hundred years, the game was modernized in the 1800′s (1867 to be specific) when William George Beers (I like this guy already) “Codified” the game (reduced the rules to a code), helped to create the Montreal Lacrosse Club, and started professional lacrosse competitions. During the 1900s the game began to gain popularity in the United States, and by the 1970s it became a staple as one of the more popular sports for high schools and universities along the east coast. Today, we begin to see it increase in popularity even more, as it has expanded out to the west coast as well. Stil today though, the regions of Maryland, New York, and Virginia tend to be the most popular areas for lacrosse in the United States.
Now its time to get to know your college lacrosse powerhouses. Some you’ll be familiar with, but others might surprise you.
#1 Norte Dame (11-1) – Big East Conference
National championships: 0 (2010 runner up)
One of the top teams in the Big East conference this season, the fighting irish are dominating (something other than football or basketball), but are still looking for their first ever lacrosse national title. They have been a mainstay in the NCAA tournament for the past six years and, only a short time ago, they were the runner up for the national championship. Notre Dame is a young, up and coming team in the lacrosse world, and should not be taken lightly. Keep your eyes out for sophomore midfielder Jim Marlatt, as he had 15 goals and 9 assists for the year and looks to continue playing well heading into the NCAA tournament.
#2 University of Massachusetts (13-0) – Colonial Athletic Conference
National championships: 0 (2006 runner up)
UMass is another underdog team who is looking for their first NCAA tournament birth since 2009. The minutemen have earned their way to the #2 ranking this year with some big time wins over Delaware, Hofstra, and Army. Again, this is another team looking for their first ever NCAA lacrosse championship, and this year could be the year for them. Watch out for the double headed attack of Will Manny (39 goals, 26 assists and a scary 56.5 shooting %) and hometown favorite Kyle Smith (28 goals, 13 assists, 41 total points). Could this be the year that the home town team wins it in Boston?
#3 Loyola (MD) (12-1) – East Coast Athletic Conference
National Championships: 0 (1990 runner up)
The Greyhounds are definitely one of the teams to beat this year in the lacrosse world, and I think I am beginning to see a trend here, as the #1-3 teams have yet to win a national championship. The greyhounds have been pounding on the door for that title for each of the past three years however. Can they finally punch their ticket to Gilette Stadium in 2012? It all will depend on the stellar play of Junior Mike Sawyer and Grad student Eric Lusby, the greyhounds two top scorers. On a side note, I did not know that grad students could play college sports….**The more you know**
#4 Duke University (13-4) – ACC
National Championships: 1 (2010)
In my opinion Duke is one of the best lacrosse schools in recent years, and they should be ranked higher than what they currently are. The Blue Devils have overcome many obstacles in the past and fought their way to the top. Many of you are probably aware of the sexual assault scandal that rocked them in 2006. Well, since that scandal, they have made five consecutive final four appearances, and of course won the national title in 2010. Can they keep this streak going? All signs point to yes, but they need to play better on the road as they are only 2-3 away from Koskinen Stadium.
#5 Johns Hopkins University (10-3) – D1 Independent
National Championships: 9 (most recent: 2007)
Another mainstay in the college lacrosse world, Johns Hopkins has traditionally been one of the best programs in the country for a long time. It’s also one of the oldest, as the program was started in 1883. Typically speaking, Hopkins competes with University of Maryland in college lacrosse’s “most historic rivalry,” as the two teams have played one another more than 100 times. The Blue Jays have played tremendously well this season, however they have faultered a bit recently, losing two of their last three. Nonetheless, they should be competing for their 10th national championship come tournament time in mid-may.
You can get all of the latest rankings here.
Ahhhh just one more thing!
Being a Syracuse native, it would only be fitting to talk about the Syracuse University Lacrosse team, as they are one of the best teams in the country year in and year out… Unfortunately, this season has been quite a disappointment for the Orange, as they are an abysmal 7-7 on the year. Frankly, they have nothing important to share except for the fact that they have won eleven national championships (the last one coming in 2009). So here is my little twist on Orange Lacrosse this season…
Syracuse Orange (women) – 15-2, 8-0 (2012 Big East champions)
Lets give a hand to the Orange women for a change shall we?! This is only the second time in school history that they have won the Big East title, and the Lady Orange also boast a fourteen game winning streak. Oh, and did I fail to mention that they were undefeated in Big East play? How did they manage to do so well this season? Well it had a whole lot to do with Juniors Michelle Tumolo and Becca Block, who took Big East players of the week honors for the third time this year. The Orangewomen are ranked #2 in the nation and are the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament. They will play Georgetown in the second semifinal match-up on 5/3. Go out to the Carrier Dome and support the Orangewomen will ya!?
Featured image courtesy of: John Strohsacker/Laxphotos.com