College lacrosse has a rich history, filled with endless stories and legends.
And while the game is still growing at the college level and some programs have been around way longer than others, there is a certain amount of history at every program that can be heralded.
But what is considered the highest peak for all 75 current DI programs?
For some, the answer is very simple. But for others, the choices are endless and serious debates could be had about to determine the greatest season for that program.
Over the next few weeks, Lacrosse Bucket will be analyzing the greatest season for every team in every conference. And things get started off here in the America East Conference.
Since Scott Marr’s arrival in 2001, the Albany Great Danes have been regarded as perennial conference championship contendors more times than not. And they have certainly had very good seasons in the 2010s during the Lyle Thompson era.
But the Danes’s best season in program is, without doubt, 2018. Led by an injured Connor Fields, Albany went 16-3 overall, won their fifth America East Championship in six seasons, earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and made their first Championship Weekend trip in program history.
In addition to Connor Fields, some other notable names on that 2018 Danes squad were faceoff man TD Ierlan and goalie JD Colarusso.
The Binghamton Bearcats first season as a program was in 2002, and there hasn’t been a ton of success there. But they have had two extremennly successful seasons where they won at least 10 games. Those two seasons are 2004 (10-6) and 2017 (11-5). They made it to the America East championship game in both years.
Looking at everything combined, 2004 is their best season. In just their third season as a program, the Bearcats absolutely studdned the America East and the nation. Binghamton went 10-6 overall, 6-0 in the America East, and made it to the conference championship game, where they lot to Albany.
Bearcats’ goalie Kevin McKeown, who came back to his alma mater as head coach ahead of the 2017 season, was named the America East Player of The Year that season as a sophomore.
When looking at what has been the best season in Hartford lacrosse history, there are multiple possible answers. Under Jack McGetrick they had their first double digit win season in 1997 and they made their only two NCAA Tournament appearances under Peter Lawrence in 2011 and 2016.
But to find their absolute best season, you have to look at 2000, which was also during the McGetrick era. The Hawks went 14-2 overall and started the season on an eight-game winning streak before losing to Hofstra, 15-7, in their second conference game of the season. They then went on to win six straight before being upset by Delaware, 23-11, in the America East semifinals.
The most notable player from that 2000 Hartford team is Tracey Kelusky, who was named the America East Player of the Year and a First Team All-Conference selection.
Stony Brook (2010)
The Stony Brook Seawolves have been one of the most successful programs in the America East and there are a plethora of seasons that could be argued as the Seawolves’ best ever. However, their 2010 season, which was the second to last in the Rick Sowell era, is by far their best.
Stony Brook went 13-4, 5-0 in the America East, won the conference championship, and made their second trip to the NCAA Tournament. Stony Brook earned the eight seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they beat Denver, 9-7, in the first round before falling to Virginia, 10-9, in the quarterfinals.
That Seawolves team featured a slew of All-Conference and players, including Kevin Crowley and Steve Waladeck, who are probably the most notable from that 2010 squad.
Of all the programs that make up the modern day America East, UMBC is the most tradition rich program. The Retrieves have been playing lacrosse since 1968 and have had success in both DI and DII throughout their history.
1980 was the first year that NCAA held a tournament that was exclusively for DII and not DII and DIII. It was also the final year that UMBC competed as a DII program, though they played multiple DI programs like usual, and is the only season where they have claimed a national title. The Retrievers, coached by Dick Watts, defeated Adelphi 23-14 in the two-team tournament, avenging their national title loss from a season ago and securing their first and only title.
That UMBC team also saw two players, Jay Robertson and Bruce Baldwin, secure awards for the most outstanding attackman and most outstanding defenseman in DII.
UMass Lowell (2018)
The RiverHawks are one of the newest programs in all of college lacrosse, first fielding a team in 2015. And their best season to date is, without a doubt, 2018, which was the fourth year of the program.
UMass Lowell went 8-8 overall, 3-3 in conference, and made their first and only America East Conference Tournament appearance. In the semifinals of that tournament they actually gave Albany some trouble, only losing 15-10 to a Danes team that went on to make a trip to Championship Weekend.
Vermont has never made an NCAA Tournament appearance, but they have had plenty of successful season that featured double-digit wins and conference tournament berths throughout the history of their program.
The Catamoutns 2018 season saw them go 12-4 overall, 4-2 in conference, and make their second America East Championship Game appearance in three seasons. Vermont also had one of their best starts in program history, starting 7-0 before losing to a top-ranked Albany to begin conference play.
Ian MacKay, Warren Jeffrey, and Nick Washuta are the most notable players from that squad. All three of them were All-Conference selections, whilc MacKay and Washuta were also All-American selections.