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Archive for May 10, 2023

May 10, 2023 — Is a city of 146,000 big enough for two Division I lacrosse teams?

There are a number of U.S. cities with more than one NCAA Division I lacrosse team, such as Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., and Richmond.

This week, Syracuse joins that list, as LeMoyne University, which competes in Division II, will move to Division I and join the Northeast Conference.

LeMoyne has had some success in women’s lacrosse in the past, even in the days before a formal Division II Tournament was formed. In the 2000s, the Dolphins participated in four Division I tournaments when the program was part of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

But in 2011, LeMoyne joined Division II for women’s lacrosse, and immediately became contenders for national honors. The team fell one game short of playing for the national title that first year, but would earn its lone national title in 2018.

Now, Syracuse is likely to remain the dominant Division I lacrosse team in town for some time. They have a tradition dating back to 1916, when the first men’s varsity lacrosse team took the field. But with lacrosse being played all over central New York, including the abutting First Nations, there’s no reason why LeMoyne cannot make the jump up in class.

LeMoyne is going to have to do this incrementally. The Dolphins will be joining the NEC after July 1 of this year, but cannot compete for an NCAA title until 2027.

“They’re draconian rules that need to be revisited and studied,” LeMoyne president Linda LeMura said at a celebratory event on campus. “A carte blanche rule like that does not suit or fit all institutions.”

Now, there are cities in the U.S. smaller than Syracuse that will have more than one lacrosse program in Division I. One such city is Fairfield, Conn., which just happens to be the home of the current NEC champion, Sacred Heart University. Fairfield’s population is a shade over 60,000, less than half of the population of Syracuse.

The growth of Division I women’s lacrosse is such that we’ve seen a number of teams joining from Division II the last year, including the likes of Bellarmine, UMass-Lowell, Merrimack, Longwood, Stonehill, and the merged Long Island University, which brought in former D-2 powerhouse C.W. Post.

LeMoyne, if it plays the long game and does it well, could be an outstanding program.