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GW Lacrosse Celebrates its 50th Anniversary

A Brief History of The George Washington University Men´s Lacrosse Team

By: Jonathan Lorentzen (Class of 2012)

Special thanks to Bergis Jules at @GWUArchives

gwThe George Washington University Men´s Lacrosse Team was founded in 1963 by students Bob White, Harold Sparck, Dorey McNeil, and Andy Adams. A $1,100 equipment loan from the U.S. Lacrosse Coaches Association gave the program the boost it needed to begin practices and schedule games for its inaugural season.1 Cross-town rival Georgetown University, Bainbridge Naval Prep, Randolph Macon College, and Baltimore Junior College were the only four opponents scheduled for the month long season (March 23rd – May 1st) and all home games were played at Suitland High School in Suitland, MD.2

Throughout the 1960s, the lacrosse program remained an independent organization, unaffiliated with the NCAA and recognized as a club-sport activity, but regularly played gwNCAA Division I varsity programs. As a result, in 1969 the Men´s Lacrosse Team was present at a meeting of the Southeastern Lacrosse Association in Richmond, Virginia where a petition to join the Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association was approved, although never ratified by the George Washington University Athletic Department.3

In the 1990′s, the program became a member of a loosely-organized league of club lacrosse teams. The league provided the Colonials with fall ball season, referees, formalized scheduling, and a national tournament.

In 2000, the Colonials won the club Division II National Championship under the leadership of senior Clay Fisher (2000), junior co-captain John Teresinski (2001) and senior Andrew Stergiopolus (2000) by a thrilling 11-10 overtime victory.

Since 2000, the lacrosse program at George Washington University has grown by leaps and bounds. In March of 2010, the Colonials won the Division II title game at the University of Maryland´s annual Beltway Bash Tournament. In 2011, the program made it to the Elite 8 of the club National Tournament.

gw2012 was the most pivotal year of the team´s development. The Colonials began the season by hiring Head Coach Joe Opron and Assistant Coach Matt Francis (2004). Opron, a Washington, DC-area attorney, came to George Washington with experience playing at the NCAA and Mens Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) levels, culminating his playing days by leading the MCLA Division 1 in goals and finishing second in total points in 2006.5 Opron was also an experienced high school and travel lacrosse coach. Francis, a DC-area consultant and 2004 graduate of George Washington University was a member of the 2000 club national championship team who brought a wealth of institutional knowledge back to the program.

Captains Nick Bryan (2012), Conor Gaffney (2013), and Jonathan Lorentzen (2012) were the catalysts for the hiring of coaches in order to carry out their vision of establishing a “virtual varsity” lacrosse program at GW. As a result of their combined efforts, the Colonials lacrosse program received unprecedented levels of funding, support, and media attention. Moreover, the team achieved its best overall club record, 12-4, and finished as runner-up in the club Division II National Tournament, falling only one double-overtime goal short of winning the program’s second National Championship.

gwIn the fall of 2012, the Colonials hired Assistant Coach J.D. Englehart, a four-year letter winner and former defensive captain of NCAA Division III powerhouse Washington and Lee, to be the program’s first full-time defensive coordinator.

In the spring of 2013, the year that the Colonials celebrated its 50th anniversary, the George Washington University coaching staff, players, and alumni decided that entrance into the MCLA was the best option for the continued growth of the lacrosse program. As the nation´s premier non-NCAA lacrosse organization, with more than 200 teams spread over 10 national conferences, the MCLA allows the Colonials to compete at the highest non-varsity level, against colleges from all over the United States.

The Colonials set many firsts its inaugural MCLA season winning its first MCLA game, first SELC game, and first SELC Northwest division game. But beyond the on-field successes, the Colonials lacrosse program garnered something much more important than wins and losses …solidarity. The combination of a dedicated coaching staff and an enthusiastic athletic department have cemented the foundations of the lacrosse program for years to come and as the only MCLA Division I program in the Chesapeake Bay area, the Colonials Lacrosse Team is already gaining popularity among top high school recruits.

As a proud alumnus, I am excited to watch the GW players, coaches, staff, administrators, and alumni take the team to new and even greater heights by staying true to our team’s motto:

¨Deeds, Not Words.¨ – George Washington


LINKS
For more pictures and historical records of the George Washington Men’s Lacrosse Team, please visit the team Facebook page.

For historical records of George Washington University, please visit the GW University Archives and Records Managment Services.

ENDNOTES
See Lacrosse Club Schedule Picked; New Equipment, Loans Help Team, 1963, publisher unknown.
Id.; see also First Year at GW, 1964, publisher unknown.
Letter from Fred Mueller, Secretary Treasurer, Southeastern Lacrosse Association to George Washington University Athletic Director, Mr. Robert K Farie, dated March 24, 1969..
David Holt, Lacrosse Wins National Title, GW Hatchet, May 4, 2000.
See Joe Opron player stats.