(Photo Courtesy of Duke Athletics)
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 continue here in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
The Duke Blue Devils have been one of the most successful programs in college lacrosse over the past decade, winning three national titles and making seven Championship Weekend appearances.
While any of the Blue Devils’ national title runs could be argued as their best in program history, the first one is always just a little extra special. During that 2010 season, Duke went 16-4 overall, 1-2 in ACC play, lost to Virginia in the ACC semifinals, and entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 5 seed. They beat Notre Dame, 6-5, in a dramatic overtime contest to secure their first title.
Some of the notable named that helped lead that Duke team were attackman Ned Crotty, LSM CJ Costabile, and defenseman Mike Manley.
North Carolina (1981)
North Carolina went undefeated and won back-to-back national titles in 1981 and 1982, and won another undefeated national title in 1991. And while all of those could certainly be lay claim to the best season in the history of Tar Heel lacrosse, it makes sense to go with the first.
In 1981, third-ywar head coach Willie Scroggs led the Tar Heels to their first-ever undefeated season and national championship. North Carolina went 12-0 overall, 4-0 in the ACC, and took down Johns Hopkins, 14-13, in the NCAA Championship Game.
Some of the notable players on that squad include attackman Michael Burnette and goalie Tom Sears, among others.
Notre Dame (2010)
Under Kevin Corrigan, the Fighting Irish have made five Championship Weekend appearances and been to the national title game twice (2010,2014). And any of those final four trips could be argued as the greatest season in program history. But 2010 is, perhaps, their best season ever.
During that 2010 season, the Irish went 10-7 overall, 2-4 in the Big East, and made the NCAA Tournament as an unseeded, at-large selection. The Irish took down Princeton, Maryland, and Cornell to secure their trip to the title game, where they lost to Duke in an overtime thriller.
Notre Dame’s 2010 squad was led by goalie Scotty Rogers, who was named the Most Outsnatding Player of the NCAA Tournament. Defenseman Kevin Ridgeway and midfielder Zach Brenneman was also big names on that squad.
The Syracuse Orange are one of the most tradition rich and historic programs in college lacrosse, claiming 16 national titles between NCAA era and pre NCAA era. So, there are a lot of seasons that could be called the best ever for the Orange.
Syracuse won three consecutive national titles in 1988, 1989, and 1990 with players like Gary and Paul Gait, Tommy Marechek, Rodney Dumpson, Matt Palumb, and other greats doning the orange and blue during that run. However, there is a pretty good consensus that the 1990 Syracuse team in one of the best of all-time, despite the NCAA saying they never existed.
With legendary coach Roy Simmons Jr. at the helm, the Orange went 13-0 during that 1990 season. In the NCAA Tournament, they earned the No. 1 seed and got a first-round bye. They beat Brown and North Carolina to get to the national title game, where they beat Loyola.
Virginia’s 2006 undefeated national title season is, without a doubt, the best in the history of the program.
Led by players like Ben Reubeor, Matt Ward, Kip Turner, and Kyle Dixon, the Cavaliers went 17-0 overall, 2-0 in the ACC, and captured their fourth NCAA title in program history. That squad is also one of two teams to go undefeated in the past 14 seasons.
The Cavaliers earned the No. 1 seed coming into the NCAA Tournament and faced Notre Dame in the first round, beating them 14-10. They then upended Georgetown and Syracuse in the quarterfinals and semifinals before clobbering UMass in the national title game.