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Archive for February 22, 2021

Feb. 22, 2021 — The ebb tide?

When this site started 23 years ago, the major stories in women’s lacrosse surrounded parallel collegiate dynasties — Maryland, which was in a purple patch of winning seven straight national championships, and The College of New Jersey, in the midst of a streak of making 22 straight Division III national semifinals, winning eight national titles on the field in a 10-year span between 1991 and 2000.

Both of these teams carry on great traditions through hard work, dedication to perfection, excellence of execution, and the willingness of each team’s coaching staff to adapt to a changing game, one which is unrecognizable tactically from the product on the field in 1996. But as we head from February into March of a COVID-affected season, these two proud programs are starting at a much-altered lacrosse landscape.

This past weekend, Maryland lost its first Big Ten regular-season game since joining the conference in 2015 with a two-goal loss to Penn State. Now, it must be said that Maryland has lost in the Big Ten before, but this was in the conference tournament. In 2019, Northwestern was able to outlast the Terps by five goals, and in 2015, Ohio State won out in the semifinal round.

Maryland’s excellence is such that yesterday’s opening loss to the Nittany Lions, combined with last year’s 3-3 record, makes you wonder if this usually bulletproof side is just working out the kinks in how the individual players connect with each other. Or have other top Division I programs, not being satisfied with just matching what Maryland does on the field, are setting their goals a sight higher?

While Division I has begun play, Division III has gotten off to an uneven start, with most games completed in the deep South and with a handful of results reported in the Midwest. Although The College of New Jersey went 4-0 in last spring’s interrupted season, the first IWLCA coaches’ poll ranked the Lions 11th nationally.

For me, that seems quite low, and I think there will be a number of players and coaches in Ewing, N.J. putting that poll on their bulletin board as motivation. After all, the program has won 12 of its last 13 matches dating back to to April 2019.