Feb. 14, 2012
With the announcement that a men's varsity lacrosse team will be taking the field for the 2013-2014 season, a new chapter has begun for Boston University and the sport. But lacrosse at BU is far from a new story. And while some may see lacrosse as a new sport, helped in part by its current reputation as the country's "fastest growing game," it is actually the oldest sport in North America, having been played by indigenous American Indians at the time of the first European contact.
Although the exact year of club lacrosse first being played at BU is unknown, it is known that the sport was being played by men and women at the club (or minor level as it was known then) dating back to the 1920s.
Back in these early days, the most important part of the women's sport was the US National Team and other touring teams that traveled abroad. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, one player stood out. Gretchen Schuyler (BU Class of `31) played nine sports at BU including club lacrosse. She also played on the US Lacrosse Team from 1935 to 1939, and from 1946 to 1948 while playing club lacrosse for the Boston Women's Lacrosse Association from 1930 to 1960. She was the first woman inducted to the Boston University Hall of Fame. Schuyler also received the U.S. Army Bronze Star as a Red Cross Captain in World War II for her heroics in Bastogne, Belgium during the German breakthrough. Schuyler was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1994.
In 1934, the emerging sport of lacrosse first appeared in the athletics section of the BU yearbook, The Hub, along with other minor sports such as the fencing, rifle and pistol teams. Club Lacrosse continued to be played at Boston University by women until the women's varsity program was founded in 1980 and by men until the current day.
Amazingly, these club teams would produce yet another women's player who would go on to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Angela Tammaro played for BU and the Boston Women's Lacrosse Association from 1960 to 1962. Tammaro has also been the head coach at Greenwich Academy since 1965 and was inducted into the National Hall of Fame in 1996.
The Boston University women's lacrosse team has come a long way since its early "minor sport" years. The women's team was first founded as a varsity team in 1980 and played a Division 1 schedule from 1984 to 1988. After the 1988 season, the team was then relegated back to a club sport and remained such until 1996 when it became a division one varsity team again. Since 1996, the Terriers have compiled a stellar overall record of 218-154-5 (.585) in 23 seasons. The program has dominated the America East Conference going 65-15 (.813) since joining the league 14 seasons ago. The program is a nine-time America East regular season champions and has appeared in the NCAA tournament eight-times, advancing to the NCAA quarter finals in 2005 and 2008. The program has also produced three first team All-Americans, as well as six second and eight third team All-Americans.
Although the sport was played on campus for many years prior, the Boston University's men's lacrosse team was officially founded as a designated club sport in 1972 as a student run organization overseen by the University's Department of Physical Education.
In the spring of 1984, players from 15 schools competed in a club All-Star game held at Dean Junior College. It was at this event that the idea of hosting a New England college club championship was born. In 1986, four teams played at Dean Junior in a single elimination tournament. In the semi-final match-up, BU defeated the University of Connecticut, 6-5, and Dean Junior College defeated the University of Rhode Island, 14-2. That same day, Dean Junior became the first "New England Club Champion", defeating BU by a score of 6-5.
After two years of successful tournaments, teams decided to petition the US Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association ("USILA") and the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association ("NEILA") for league sanctioning. The league's original purpose was to provide structure and legitimacy to the member teams, hoping their institutions would elevate them to varsity status. In the spring of 1990, the USILA requested a name change to avoid confusion with the NCAA's Patriot League and the Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League (PCLL) was born.
The Pioneer operated along the same lines for the next several seasons. Teams "graduated" to compete at the varsity level and new teams joined to fill their place, but in the fall of 1999, the league underwent a change by joining what was then known as the US Lacrosse Intercollegiate Associates. In 2000, the University of New Hampshire defeated BU to earn the league's first automatic bid to represent the PCLL in the first national tournament as members of the USLIA.
Forty years after its official founding, the BU men's lacrosse team still competes in the Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League it helped form. Today the PCLL is part of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA). The PCLL is made up of seven division 1 teams (BU, BC, URI, UConn, NU, UNH, SUNY) and 8 division 2 teams located throughout the Northeast. The team practices and competes at Nickerson Field, which was once home to the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse from 2004 to 2006.
In 2011, the team finished 4-2 in Division 1 play (6-4 overall), good for third place in its league. Junior Steve Mathews led the team with 19 goals and 15 assists for 34 points last season and earned PCLL 1st Team All-Conference Attack honors.
With the announcement of a men's varsity team starting play in 2013-14, a new chapter of Boston University lacrosse begins. One can only imagine what lacrosse history will be written from here.
Sources: Information obtained from Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse Association, Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association, and US Lacrosse among other sources.