Johns Hopkins has always been a school that cherishes the game of lacrosse. While the rest of athletes who wear the Blue Jay uniform compete at the Division III level, lacrosse is a Division I sport. Johns Hopkins is one of the most storied programs in college lacrosse history, amassing over 40 national championships, including 9 modern day NCAA Division I titles. Recently, the Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team failed to make a NCAA tournament berth. 2013 marked the first time that the Blue Jays would not play in the postseason since 1971. Soon after this development, the University decided to end its tradition of non-affiliation and announced that it would be joining the newly formulated Big Ten conference. On June 17, 2015, Johns Hopkins announced that the women’s lacrosse program would also be joining the Big Ten conference beginning with the 2016-2017 season.
Although the lady Blue Jays are moving away from non-affiliation, a trait that has made them unique, there is a lot to be said for joining the Big Ten. The men’s lacrosse team’s season has proved that Hopkins is able to flourish in a conference setting, earning the Big Ten’s first ever conference title with a 13-6 victory over Ohio State. The Blue Jays went on to make a run to the NCAA tournament where they lost to fellow conference member and storied rival, Maryland. Although a NCAA tournament run was cut short, the Blue Jays thrived during their first season in the Big Ten.
Furthermore, the Big Ten has emerged as one of college lacrosse’s premier conferences on both the men’s and women’s side. The men’s conference consists of Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers while the women’s conference boasts the same teams, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Rutgers, with the addition of Northwestern. This conference has proven to produce a high caliber of lacrosse in 2015. Three teams from the men’s side earned spots in the NCAA tournament with Maryland progressing all the way to the final. The women’s side features the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Division I champion, Maryland, and Northwestern, a team which at one point dominated women’s lacrosse. The Big Ten will most likely continue to be well represented during championship weekend with the likes of these teams.
Making the jump to conference play has already yielded a great return for the Johns Hopkins men and the women will most definitely see similar results. Affiliating with the Big Ten is already the first of many positive steps that the Johns Hopkins women will have to take if they hope to compete for a national title.
Do you think that the Johns Hopkins women’s team will have as great of a first season in the Big Ten as the men’s team did? Will the Big Ten establish itself as the strongest conference in college lacrosse? Comment below with your thoughts and follow @ConnectLAX for more NCAA lacrosse stories.