Here we go again with the age-old question. Who’s the king of kings? Jordan or LeBron? Coke or Pepsi? In this article, we will try to rank the Division I Lacrosse National Champions from the last ten years and see who the alpha of all the alphas would be. Each of these teams demonstrated exceptional talent and skill to win the national championship during their respective years. Factors that contribute to their rankings include their regular-season records, tournament performances, strength of schedule, and the quality of their players and coaching staff. Additionally, the overall competitiveness of the college lacrosse landscape, rules, and rules changes each year can impact the perception of a team’s achievement.
It’s important to note that the rankings and opinions on these teams’ performances can vary among lacrosse enthusiasts and experts. The level of competition in Division I men’s lacrosse is consistently high, and each team’s journey to becoming national champions is unique, making it challenging to rank them from best to worst definitively.
All these teams are phenomenal and deserve all the recognition they have received. Who do you see stacking up where, and why?
10. North Carolina (2016)
National Championship Victory: The Tar Heels clinched their national championship by defeating the Maryland Terrapins with an overtime score of 14-13. This victory marked a significant milestone for the program and solidified their place in lacrosse history as it was their first national title and Final Four appearance since the early 90s.
Strong Defensive Presence: The Tar Heels’ defense was a key component of their success. They were anchored by goalie Brian Balkam, who made crucial saves in the championship game. The defensive unit included players like Austin Pifani and Evan Connell; the team effectively limited opposing offenses and played a vital role in securing victories.
Balanced Contributions: The team’s success was not reliant on just a few star players. The Tar Heels had a deep roster, with several players making significant contributions on both ends of the field. This balance and depth allowed them to overcome challenges and perform consistently throughout the season.
Resilience and Determination: The 2016 Tar Heels showcased their resilience and determination in numerous close games, particularly in the NCAA Tournament. They displayed the ability to come from behind and secure critical victories, showcasing their mental fortitude and ability to perform under pressure.
9. Virginia (2019)
National Championship Victory: The Cavaliers lacrosse program became national champions by defeating the Yale Bulldogs by a final score of 13-9. This victory marked the program’s sixth national championship and their first since 2011. This run will forever be remembered for the controversial goal in the quarterfinals against Maryland.
Dynamic Offense: The 2019 Cavaliers had a potent, balanced offensive unit that consistently produced goals. Attackmen Michael Kraus and Ian Laviano were the primary offensive catalysts, supported by midfielders Dox Aitken, Matt Moore, and others. Their ability to create scoring opportunities and capitalize on them was crucial to the team’s success.
Strong Defensive Effort: Virginia boasted a solid defense goalie Alex Rode anchored down. The defensive unit, which included players like Cade Saustad and Scott Hooper, effectively limited opposing offenses and played a significant role in securing victories. Their ability to disrupt opponents’ scoring opportunities and communicate effectively was vital for the team’s success.
Outstanding Faceoff Performance: Faceoff specialist Petey LaSalla was pivotal to the team’s success. His ability to consistently win faceoffs and provide possession for the Cavaliers was instrumental in controlling the flow of the game and generating scoring opportunities.
8. Denver (2015)
National Championship Victory: The Pioneers clinched their first national championship by defeating the Maryland Terrapins by a final score of 10-5. This victory marked a historic achievement for the Denver lacrosse program, as they became the first team outside the traditional lacrosse hotbeds to win the national championship.
Prolific Offense: The 2015 Denver team had a high-powered offense that consistently put up impressive numbers. Led by attackmen Wesley Berg and Jack Bobzien, as well as midfielder Zach Miller, the team possessed exceptional scoring ability. Their offensive firepower and ability to create scoring opportunities played a significant role in their championship run.
Stout Defense: Denver’s success was not solely due to their offense, as they boasted a solid defensive unit. Anchored by goalie Ryan LaPlante and featuring players like Carson Cannon and Christian Burgdorf, the defense effectively limited opponents’ scoring opportunities. Their disciplined and cohesive play contributed to the team’s overall success.
Trevor Baptiste’s Faceoff Dominance: Faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste was a standout performer for the Pioneers. His exceptional faceoff skills and ability to win possession for the team were vital in controlling the game’s tempo and providing scoring opportunities. Baptiste has become a household name in the lacrosse community, and it all started at Denver.
7. Duke (2013)
National Championship Victory: The Blue Devils clinched a national title by defeating the Syracuse Orange by a score of 16-10. This victory marked the second national championship for the Duke men’s lacrosse program, with their previous title coming in 2010.
Dynamic Offense: The 2013 Duke team had a highly potent and balanced offensive unit consistently produced goals. Led by standout attackmen Jordan Wolf, Josh Dionne, and Josh Offit, along with midfielders Christian Walsh and David Lawson, the team boasted one of the most formidable offenses in the country. Their ability to create scoring opportunities and finish at a high rate made them a dominant force.
Strong Defensive Effort: Duke’s success was more than relying on their offense, as they also possessed a solid defensive unit. Anchored by goalie Kyle Turri and featuring defenders like Henry Lobb and Luke Duprey, the defense effectively limited opponents’ scoring opportunities. Their disciplined play, communication, and ability to disrupt opposing offenses were instrumental in Duke’s championship run.
Faceoff Dominance: Brendan Fowler was huge for Duke regarding faceoffs. His exceptional faceoff skills and ability to win possession for the team provided a significant advantage in controlling the tempo of games and generating scoring opportunities.
6. Yale (2018)
National Championship Victory: The Bulldogs earned this national title by overcoming the Duke Blue Devils 13-11. The Yale men’s lacrosse program had not been named national champions prior to this, making it a historic achievement for a program that had been on the rise to that point.
High-Powered Offense: The 2018 Yale team had an explosive and balanced offensive unit that put up impressive numbers all season long. Led by standout attackman Ben Reeves, along with Jackson Morrill, Matt Gaudet, and others, the team possessed exceptional scoring ability. They had all the pieces come together on offense to secure a win at the big dance.
Solid Defense: Yale’s boasted a strong defensive unit that seemingly went under the radar at the time. Goalie Jack Starr did his job, along with defenders like Chris Fake and Aidan Hynes, locking down opposing offenses. A solid defensive unit partnered with a high-powered offense was what did it for Yale this season.
Faceoff Dominance: Faceoff specialist Conor Mackie was crucial to Yale’s success. Like all faceoffs, Mackie’s ability to win the ball led to possessions for Yale, which helped control the flow of games and generate scoring opportunities. Mackie’s dominance in the faceoff circle was a key factor in Yale’s championship-winning journey.
5. Maryland (2017)
National Championship Victory: The Terrapins Men’s Lacrosse program became national champions by defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes by a score of 9-6. This victory marked the program’s first national championship since 1975 and solidified their status as one of the dominant teams in college lacrosse.
Balanced Offense: The 2017 Maryland team had a balanced offensive unit that showcased versatility and scoring prowess. Attackmen Matt Rambo, Colin Heacock, and midfielder Connor Kelly were the key contributors to the team’s scoring success. This offense also had a phenomenal balance of upper-class leadership and young players emerging to give them incredible balance.
Staunch Defense: Maryland’s success was not solely due to their offense; they also possessed a strong defensive unit. Anchored by goalie Dan Morris and featuring defenders like Tim Muller and Bryce Young, the defense effectively limited opponents’ scoring opportunities.
Faceoff Dominance: Faceoff specialist Austin Henningsen came up big for the Terps. His ability to win possessions for the team provided a significant advantage in controlling the flow of games and generating scoring opportunities all season long.
4. Notre Dame (2023)
National Championship Victory: Notre Dame broke through for its first championship in its 26th NCAA tournament appearance, all under 35th-year Head Coach Kevin Corrigan. They did it dramatically by jumping out on Duke in the first half and holding on in the second half for a thrilling 13-9 win.
Prolific Offense: Notre Dame was led by the Kavanagh brothers, who sliced and diced through defenses all season. Pat broke his older brother’s single-season points record and, in the process, led the nation in assists, while Chris torched defenses all season with his scoring ability. Throw in the emergence and stellar play of Eric Dobson, and this team was a bear to defend at both the attack and the midfield. What stood out for this offense was its ability to win back possessions in the ride, which neutralized the Irish’s weakness at faceoff.
Resilient Defense: As always, Notre Dame’s staple has been its defense, and 2023 was no exception. Chris Fake led the way as their top cover man, and Notre Dame was able to suffocate teams throughout the course of the season. The unit seemed to play its best in its biggest games, as they were able to stifle the Virginia offensive juggernaut in the semifinals while limiting the USILA Player of the Year in Brennan O’Neill in the national championship.
Goalie Dominance: What separated Notre Dame was their ability to show up when it mattered most. One player who exuded this was their goalie, Liam Entennmann. He was phenomenal between the pipes all season and saved his best game for last, as he stifled Duke in the championship game to pick up MVP honors.
3. Duke (2014)
National Championship Victory: The Blue Devils clinched the national championship by defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with a score of 11-9. This victory marked the third national championship in program history, with 2014 being the second of a back-to-back run for the Blue Devils. Duke became true lacrosse blue-bloods as back-to-back national champions.
High-Powered Offense: The 2014 Duke team had a potent, balanced offensive unit that consistently produced goals. Led by standout attackmen Jordan Wolf, Josh Dionne, and Case Matheis, along with midfielders Deemer Class and Myles Jones, the team boasted one of the most formidable offenses in the country.
Strong Defensive Effort: Duke also possessed a solid defensive unit featuring goalie Luke Aaron and defenders like Henry Lobb and Casey Carroll. Their disciplined play, communication, and ability to disrupt opposing offenses were instrumental in Duke’s championship run.
Faceoff Dominance: Similar to the year prior, faceoff specialist Brendan Fowler played a crucial role in Duke’s success. His experience and ability to win possession for the team provided a significant advantage in controlling the tempo of games and generating scoring opportunities. Fowler’s dominance in the faceoff circle was a key factor in Duke’s back-to-back championship titles.
2. Virginia (2021)
National Championship Victory: The Cavaliers secured the national championship win over Maryland Terrapins with a final score of 17-16 in dramatic fashion. This was the game that was sealed due to a massive save by Alex Rode with less than five seconds left coming off of a Maryland faceoff win. This victory marked the seventh national championship in program history and the second under Lars Tiffany.
Prolific Offense: This 2021 Virginia team had a high-powered offense that consistently put up impressive numbers. Led by standout attackman Matt Moore, along with Connor Shellenberger, Payton Cormier, and others, the team possessed exceptional scoring ability. Their ability to match the Maryland offense goal for goal and score in transition was a huge factor in their success.
Resilient Defense: Virginia’s success was not solely due to its offense, as they also possessed a resilient defense. The defense effectively limited opponents ‘ scoring opportunities, led by goalie Alex Rode and featuring defenders like Jared Conners and Kyle Kology.
Faceoff Dominance: Faceoff specialist Petey LaSalla played a vital role in Virginia’s success. At this point, Petey had years of experience in crucial games, which certainly helped put Virginia over the edge.
1. Maryland (2022)
National Championship Victory: After losing in the championship game the year prior, Maryland won their fourth NCAA-era lacrosse national championship, capping off an undefeated season and becoming just the 14th undefeated national champion. In the national championship against Cornell, the Terrapins led 9–2 in the third quarter before Cornell closed the game on a five-goal run.
Prolific Offense: Logan Wisnauskas led the way for one of the most prolific offenses in Division I Lacrosse history and, in the process, became the first Terp in program history to eclipse the 100-point mark. In addition to Wisnauskas, the Terps got consistent production from Anthony DeMaio, Keeghan Khan, and Jonathan Donville, giving the Terps multiple options to keep defenses on their toes all season.
Dominant Defense: Brett Makar, Ajax Zapitello, and Matt Rahill were as good as it gets throughout the perfect 18-0 season that saw them dominate their opponents. This group could do it all and kept the most elite scorers in the country at bay en route to one of the greatest seasons in lacrosse history.
Dominant in the Goal: None of this happens without Logan McNaney in the net. McNaney was pivotal to Maryland’s undefeated run in 2022, finishing the season with 200 saves and a 59.7 save percentage. He made double-digit saves in 11 contests and allowed fewer than ten goals in 13 of his 18 games, including each of the final seven.