On Saturday, March 11, the North Central University men’s lacrosse team hosted their first official home game at Elliot Park Field. The Rams faced Northland College, one of three Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) schools to add men’s lacrosse to their list of varsity sports in 2017. In addition to Northland and North Central, the University of Northwestern – St. Paul also debuted their first team this season.
Lacrosse is a rapidly growing sport—both in the high school and collegiate fields. According to the US Lacrosse Participation Report and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), boy’s lacrosse at the high school level has seen a 27.8 percent increase in the number of schools that sponsor the sport from 2009 to 2014, while that number is 37.3 percent at the collegiate level.
In 2016, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) reported 108,450 high school boys lacrosse players, with 12.1% of those players moving on to play in the NCAA. 7.1% played specifically in Division III. These participation percentages are the highest of any other boys’ high school sport.
Locally, the Minnesota State High School League currently has 90 registered schools with varsity boy’s lacrosse. The NCU Rams have 16 men on their roster, nine of which are from the state of Minnesota. All but one of the players are underclassmen, but despite the younger squad in their debut season, the excitement to build a program in the heart of downtown Minneapolis continues.
“Introducing the sport of men’s lacrosse has been an exciting journey for North Central University,” says Greg Johnson, athletic director. “From the added enthusiasm it brings to our campus in both the form of students and school pride to the thrill of watching a fast-paced, physical game at Elliot Park field, it’s been a proud achievement to bring the sport to NCU and downtown Minneapolis. I’m most excited to watch our student-athletes continue to grow—in their development as a Christian, a student, and an athlete – as we continue this inaugural year of lacrosse.”