Over the past weekend, a couple of scores caught my eye:
High Point 13, Michigan 12
Mercer 14, Army West Point 13
Part of the growth of the game of women’s lacrosse over the last five years or so has been the promise of teams with great traditions in their athletic departments. For Michigan, it has been a trying start despite having made an enormous investment in scholarships and infrastructure. And thus far, the Wolverines still have not won a conference game in their existence.
And West Point has had its own growing pains in its second season as a varsity program. Not to mention the fact that the women playing on the team are in a rigorous academic and leadership program designed to make them second lieutenants in the Army upon graduation.
But I think you have to focus less on any particular shortcomings on the part of the Wolverines and Knights and ask yourselves what High Point and Mercer are doing right.
And I think part of what they are doing right is the fact that they have attracted plenty of out-of-state talent.
High Point, notably, focuses on many of the great northeastern programs such as Hauppage (N.Y.), South Huntington St. Anthony (N.Y.), and Severn Archbishop Spalding (Md.), while also making room for a couple of North Carolina players.
Mercer casts a wide net for talent, including Florida, Wisconsin, and Texas. But the team’s leading scorer is from White Plains (N.Y.).
A lot of the reasons given for why the Atlantic Coast Conference has been the premier women’s lacrosse (and, for that matter, field hockey) conferences the past 20 years is because of the climate. Many student-athletes are lured by the prospect of going south for school where it is not as cold during the playing season, and where the beginning and the end of the school year is much warmer than at home.
And, let’s face it: the “change of scenery” pitch does work in women’s lacrosse.
After all, your defending Division II champion is Florida Southern.