LR Men’s Lacrosse Makes Historic Run to National Championship Game
THIRTY MINUTES DOWN. THIRTY TO GO.
That is all that stood between Lenoir-Rhyne’s men’s lacrosse team and a national championship. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be as Le Moyne College stood tall down the stretch on a cold and rainy day for a 12-6 win, its sixth title.
However, it was a turning point for the Bears program and a lightning rod for the community.
“People still bring it up in the community,” said Myles Moffat ’21. “Losing wasn’t our goal, and it still stings, but that’s a part of sports. It was a great experience.”
Only 11 years after LR’s program got off the ground, LR was one of the last two standing at the end of the season.
“It was unbelievable for everyone involved,” Men’s lacrosse head coach Greg Paradine said. “When you get to that stage and that environment, all the divisions are right there. It’s a type of festival because it’s the big stage. I was telling the guys it was a show, a production.”
From the community send-off at Moretz Stadium to the chartered flight to the police escort at the venue, it’s an experience that won’t soon be forgotten. The Bears rolled to a 15-2 record, secured the program’s second South Atlantic Conference tournament championship, second national semifinal appearance and first appearance in the title game. And it was clear from the beginning that all the ingredients were there.
“I told the team at our first meeting of the year that I thought they had the potential to win a national championship,” Paradine said. “I’ve never said that to one of my teams before, but I said that in order for that to happen, we were going to have to focus. With all the COVID restrictions and things the administration was asking us to do, our guys bought into it.”
What Paradine saw in them came to light in 2020. LR had jumped out to a 6-1 mark, with its only loss coming to No. 6-ranked Belmont Abbey, but along the way, it tallied back-to-back wins over No. 3-ranked Adelphi and No. 1-ranked Limestone.
COVID-19 forced an early end to the season, but the NCAA’s revision to eligibility rules allowed all student-athletes to receive a grace year and earn one more season of eligibility.
“That added a lot to our depth,” Paradine said. “In the shortened season, we had freshmen and sophomores play in those wins against Adelphi and Limestone, but that year didn’t count against them. They were still freshmen and sophomores, but they had a tremendous amount of experience.”
That experience and chemistry came to light early in 2021 with wins over ranked opponents Belmont Abbey and Limestone as LR jumped out to a quick start. Add in a win over No. 12-ranked Queens University and, before you know it, the Bears were red-hot at 9-0.