Lacrosse Development in Pennsylvania
Penn State played its first intercollegiate game against Penn in 1913 and in 1940 attempted a college box lacrosse league playing top universities including Yale. An appropriately named College Division dominated lacrosse in 1952, consisting of 17 undergraduate teams from Rensselaer Polytechnic, Army, Virginia, Navy, Hofstra, Yale, Baltimore University, Maryland, Delaware, Drexel, Princeton, Duke, Washington College, Washington and Lee, Johns Hopkins, Loyola, and Western Maryland as well as two club teams from Mount Washington and Maryland Lacrosse Club. Drexel represented Pennsylvania schools well that season reaching as high as number six in the standings. By the mid-1950s with some 60 colleges playing lacrosse, teams were divided into three divisions. While the 'A Division' included traditional national powers Navy and Johns Hopkins, the 'B Division' and 'C Division' consisted of several potent Pennsylvania universities including Penn, Swarthmore, Penn State, Lehigh, Dickinson, Drexel and Lafayette.
In total, Lehigh University won eight national titles under the pre-NCAA United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association format of voting for the national champion, while Swarthmore University won four titles. More recently under the NCAA tournament format in place since 1971, Pennsylvania based universities have participated in many NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship tournaments including Bucknell (2), Cabrini (6), Franklin & Marshall (4), Gettysburg (11), Lehigh (1), Kutztown (1), Messiah College (2), Penn (11), Penn State (2), Swarthmore (1), Widener (6) and Villanova (2).
Among recent highlights at the university level, in 2005, Penn State was named to the NCAA tournament after reaching number eleven in the national rankings. In 2006 Penn upset number three Cornell on their way to getting an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. Gettysburg has had good success in Division III, regularly appearing in the top five national rankings and reaching the NCAA title games in 2001, 2002 and 2009. Philadelphia has hosted six NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship tournament in Divisions I, II & III at Franklin Field and Lincoln Financial Field. In 2009, Villanova defeated Towson in the conference finals to gain the team's first ever NCAA tournament bid. In 2009 Chris Bates head coach for ten years at Drexel took the top job at Princeton. In 2007, Drexel upset number one ranked and defending National Champion Virginia, 11 to 10, scoring the game-winning goal with three seconds remaining. In 2010, Lafayette won their first six games including consecutive upsets over Navy and Bucknell reaching a national ranking of number eight. In 2011, for the first time, three Pennsylvania schools were represented in the 16 team NCAA tournament. Penn and Villanova were selected as at-large tournament picks, while Bucknell made the tournament by virtue of an automatic qualifier for winning the Patriot league tournament.
Also for the first time, in 2011, a Pennsylvania school captured the NCAA Division II Championship when Mercyhurst defeated Adelphi 9 to 8. In 2012, Lehigh was seeded number seven in the NCAA tournament, the first seeded Pennsylvania team since Penn was seeded number four in 1988.
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