Growing programs scramble rankings

Straight shooters

May 04, 2008

Straight Shooters answers your youth lacrosse questions with the help of US Lacrosse experts. This week's "Straight Shooter" is Lindsey Biles of Annapolis. Biles was an All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy finalist during her college career at Princeton and a member of the 2006-07 U.S. women's national team. Biles also works as a sideline analyst for ESPNU.

Q: What are the top recruiting colleges/universities for women's lacrosse?

Harvie, Mason Neck, Va.

A: Virtually all NCAA Division I, II, and III colleges and universities actively recruit players for their programs. As the fastest-growing sport in the country, it's an exciting time to be a part of the game, because the competition to make the top 20 has become increasingly intense, let alone to make the top 10.

There are several perennial Division I powerhouses that seem to return to the top of the polls every year: Duke, Georgetown, Maryland, North Carolina, Princeton and Virginia have consistently been in the top 20. Maryland, Virginia, Princeton and Georgetown rank in the top 10 of the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association poll, along with three-time defending national champions Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Syracuse, Boston University, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame. Other teams that have held on to top rankings the past few years include Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, James Madison, Penn State and Yale, though the top 20 mix is continually changing because of program growth.

New programs also are popping up all over the country and climbing the ranks. Northwestern is one that seems to have become a mainstay. It reinstated its women's program in 2002 after a 10-year hiatus, and in just three years became the first team outside the Eastern time zone to win a national championship. Fast-forward to the present, and Northwestern is on track this year for its fourth consecutive championship, decisively interrupting the streak held by Virginia, Princeton and Maryland. Other young programs, such as Stanford and Oregon, have edged out typical suspects for a top 20 seating over the past two seasons.

While there are steadfast programs I expect to consistently remain in the top tier, I predict we will see new teams enter the top 20 mix in the future. It's already happening. And this growth is not only happening in Division I - programs in divisions II and III are also expanding. Lacrosse magazine's Web site (lacrosse.org) provides weekly polls throughout the season so you can keep track of these top programs.

Straight Shooters runs every Sunday in The Sun and on baltimoresun.com. E-mail your youth lacrosse questions to sports@baltsun.com and include a phone number for e-mail verification. The series can also be found on Lacrosse Magazine's Web site at www.laxmagazine.com. US Lacrosse, headquartered in Baltimore, is the national governing body of men's and women's lacrosse. Learn more about playing, coaching and officiating lacrosse at www.uslacrosse.org.

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