If success is worth celebrating, both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams at St. Thomas have plenty to celebrate this summer: The men’s team finished the season undefeated and won its fifth national championship in the past eight years, and the women’s team won its regional tournament for the first time in program history and made it to the national tournament for the second straight year.
“Getting to see the looks on their faces with feeling of accomplishment after capping off an undefeated season was really fun to see,” men’s coach Brian Gross said.
After championships in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, Gross said this year’s team was the deepest he has ever seen in his 11 years at St. Thomas, which meant over the course of an 18-0 season that “if one of our guys was having an off day, there were multiple other guys there to step up and pick up the slack.”
The Tommies overcame a 5-2 first quarter deficit in the championship game against Grand Valley State to secure the second championship for the team’s seniors and first for more than 30 players on the team.
“[Five championships] is a really impressive number and really is a testament to this program that we’ve built, a program that can continue year after year turning out top teams,” Gross said.
Gross was also named Division II’s Coach of the Year by the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association, and Pat Mines received the Godekeraw Award as one of the nation’s two top scholar-athletes.
The women’s program took another major step this season toward having similar consistent excellence. A bumper crop of freshman talent coupled with major contributors from upperclassmen helped build on last year’s wild card bid to the national tournament by winning outright the Tommies’ regional tournament.
“It’s cool that we get to go two in a row,” coach Ashley Nelsen said. “We’re pretty excited and we have more in the pipeline. We’re starting to have people choose St. Thomas over other schools based on lacrosse, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Both teams play at the Division II club level.