The Westminster Men’s Lacrosse program will look to defeat the odds in 2014 when they do something rare in the MCLA. The Griffins will be moving up from Division II to Division I, joining BYU, Utah and Utah State.
Last weekend at the annual fall meetings of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference, league members agreed to let the Griffins move to Division I. Although there are a few logistics to work out, Westminster Head Coach Mason Goodhand isn’t worried.
“The members were looking to talk about travel,” said Goodhand. “I asked them to look at if Westminster has conducted ourselves in a way that is on par with D-I programs and I believe we have and I believe the members of the league agreed.”
The Griffins join a small club of schools who have succeeded in D-II and have decided to play in D-I including Montana and San Diego. However, San Diego hasn’t had a season over .500 since making the jump and Montana has only had one winning season since moving up.
“All the teams that have jumped from D-II to D-I have all disappeared,” said Goodhand. “The reason they have all disappeared is because you can’t really recruit in the MCLA. However, we are now seeing a shift where kids used to have to play for NCAA schools, those kids are now looking to MCLA D-I programs. Those top D-I programs can go through recruits and pick who they want.”
The Griffins have put the pieces in place to compete for players who will be looking to play in MCLA Division I.
“The school came to me and asked what they could do to help the program and I told them I needed a guy to find the personnel that could compete at whatever level they asked,” said Goodhand. “The school was able to put resources into getting Brad [Levoie] to a position where he can become a better coach and recruit the players we need to compete in D-I.”
The RMLC competition will become tougher as the Griffins will play Colorado and Colorado State each year as well as familiar in-state foes, BYU, Utah and Utah State.
“Our biggest challenge will be to get to the National Tournament again,” said Goodhand. “But I think that’s okay. I think it’s okay to have a team that doesn’t get to the National Tournament every year if you don’t play your best. Right now, in D-II, we are pretty much an automatic shoo-in and I wanted to change that.”
The Griffins haven’t released their 2013 schedule, but Coach Goodhand is excited about the competition and thinks it’s one of the toughest schedules the Griffins have ever played.