(Photo Courtesy of Yale 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 with the Ivy League.
The Brown Bears have a rich lacrosse history and it is arguable as to which season is their best ever. However, the 1994 and 2016 seasons in which they made the Final Four are the two that come to mind the most. And for this, we will go with the 2016 season that broke that 22-year Championship Weekend drought.
During the 2016 season, in which Brown was led by Tewarraton Award winner Dylan Molloy, the Bears went 16-3 overall and 6-0 in the Ivy League. They earned the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Brown defeated Johns Hopkins, 17-8, and Navy, 11-10, in a thrilling Quarterfinal matchup to punch their ticket to Championship Weekend. In the semifinals, the Bears fell to Maryland in overtime by a score of 15-14.
One of the most historic programs in the game, there are an endless amount of arguments to be made about which season is the best in Cornell lacrosse history. But for most, it is comes down to the Big Red’s undefeated national title seasons in 1976 and 1977.
For this, we are going with 1977 because it is hard enough to repeat as champions, but repeat as undefeated champions is even tougher. During that 1977 season, in which Cornell was led by the late, great Eamon McEneaney, they went 13-0 overall, 6-0 in the Ivy League, and given the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In the NCAA Tournment, Cornell defeated UMass, 17-13, in the first round (quarterfinals) before demolishing Navy 22-6 in the semifinals and Johns Hopkins 16-8 in the national championship game.
Dartmouth has had only one double-digit win season and one NCAA Tournament appearance since the NCAA era (1971-present), and both of those accomplishments came under Rick Sowell during the 2003 season.
The Big Green went 11-3 overall, 5-1 in the Ivy League, and tied Princeton for first place in the conference. Faced against eventual semifinalist and No. 5 seed Syracuse in the first round, Dartmouth gave the Orange plenty of trouble, only losing 13-11.
As the oldest college in the county, Harvard has had their hand in lacrosse since the inception of the game at the college level. Despite their rich history, the Crimson haven’t been overly successful like some of their Ivy counterparts during the NCAA era.
The best season for the Crimson is, arguably, the 1990 season. The Crimson went 12-3 overall, 5-1 in the Ivy League, and tied for first in the conference with Yale. Harvard also earned the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, which featured four Ivy League teams for the first time. That feat has only been replicated once since (2006).
Harvard defeated Notre Dame, 9-3, in the firs round to set up a meeting with North Carolina in the quarterfinals. The Tar Heels blasted the Crimson, 18-3, in that quarterfinals matchup.
While there are certainly other season that could match the success of the 1988 team but came up short by a hair in the NCAA Tournament, the 1988 Penn squad is the only in program history of make a Championship Weekend appearance. And for that reason we are going with that squad.
During that season, the Quakers, who were led by legendary head coach Tony Seaman, went 11-4 overall, 5-1 in the Ivy League, and tied for first in the conference. They earned the No. 4 seed in NCAA Tournament.
Penn defeated Loyola, 12-9, in the quarterfinals and fell to Syracuse, 11-10, in the semifinals contest that we all know today as the “Air Gait Game.”
Under Bill Tierney, the Princeton Tigers were the “Team of the 90s” as they won six titles from 1992-2001. And while any of those could be argued as the best season in program history, we are going with the one that started it all for this exercise.
During that 1992 season, Princeton went 13-2 overall and 6-0 in the Ivy League, winning the conference outright. The Tigers, who were led by guys like Dave Morrow, Kevin Lowe, and other, earned the No. 3 seed heading into the NCAA Tournament.
Princeton defeated Maryland, 11-10, in the quarterfinals to punch their ticket to Championship Weekend. They defeated North Carolina, 16-14, in the semifinals and Syracuse, 11-10, in the championship to clinch their first title and begin one of the greatest dynatsies in the game.
While Yale has had some successful seasons in the past, it hasn’t been until recently that they have become a consistent national power under head coach Andy Shay. And they reached the pinnicale of the game in 2018 when they won their first title.
Led by Tewarraton Award winner Ben Reeves, Yale went 17-3 overall, 6-0 in the Ivy League, and won the conference during that season. They earned the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
In the NCAA Tournament, Yale beat UMass, 15-13, in the first round and Loyola, 8-5, in the quarterfinals. They then took down Albany, 20-11, in the semifinals and defeated Duke, 13-11, to capture their first NCAA title in program history.