YSU Lacrosse joins MAC as affiliate member
The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced today a historic addition to its sports lineup as women’s lacrosse will be added beginning with the 2020-21 academic year, increasing the MAC’s sponsored championships to 24, which is tied as the fifth-largest of the 32 NCAA Division I Conferences.
The MAC will begin the 2020-21 academic year with five programs competing in women’s lacrosse as Akron, Central Michigan and Kent State will be joined by new affiliate members Detroit-Mercy and Youngstown State. The following year Eastern Michigan will add women’s lacrosse to increase MAC membership to six teams for the 2021-22 academic year.
“I am pleased our membership is adding the sport of women’s lacrosse to our offering of championships. Additionally, I want to welcome Detroit Mercy and Youngstown State as affiliate members,” said MAC Commissioner, Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher. “This is truly a historic day as women’s lacrosse has been a topic of conversation among our membership.”
The addition of women’s lacrosse as a Spring sponsored sport continues to enhance the MAC’s stature as one of the leading Division I Conferences in the nation. The announcement of the 2020-21 regular season schedule and the postseason MAC Championship format will be announced at a future date.
“The addition of women’s lacrosse adds to our already broad offering of championship opportunities for student-athletes. I am already looking forward to the inaugural season,” added Steinbrecher.
The University of Akron women’s lacrosse begins its inaugural season in spring 2020, becoming the 20th Division I sports program on campus.
Under first-year head coach Christy Mitchell, the Zips’ roster features homegrown talent. Eleven student-athletes list their hometowns within the state of Ohio. Fifteen of the students played at least one other sport in high school, while 20 earned academic honors for sporting a 3.5+ grade-point average.
Quote from Akron, Director of Athletics, Larry Williams:
“In adding women’s lacrosse among its sponsored sports, the Mid-American Conference is once again demonstrating its unwavering commitment to support student-athlete opportunities at the highest level. The University of Akron is a proud member of the MAC and extremely excited to support the ever-expanding sport of women’s lacrosse,” said Williams.
Quote from Akron, Head Coach, Christy Mitchell:
“When I began at Akron, I knew the hope was for the women’s lacrosse team to join the MAC. I am nothing but excited to see it come to fruition so quickly,” said Mitchell. “The commitment to women’s lacrosse shows the belief in development and competitiveness with other solid conferences. Being in the MAC will help keep camaraderie with other Akron athletes, and it will be exciting for the students and fans to get behind our sport even more.”
Central Michigan Chippewas:
Over the past four years, Central Michigan lacrosse has established itself on solid ground, growing from a fledging program to a consistent competitor.
Led by head coach Sara Tisdale, six times has a Chippewa earned first team all-conference honors among 26 total all-league postseason honors. In 2019, senior Jocelyne Lemay, part of the nucleus of Tisdale’s first class, was named the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year. In 2018, the Chippewas posted an 11-7 record, including 4-1 in the SoCon, as CMU claimed the league regular-season championship, the first title in program history.
The success of the Chippewa lacrosse program has not been limited to the field. CMU has thrived in the classroom under Tisdale, earning a combined 67 Southern Conference academic honors, including the Commissioner’s Medal, the Honor Roll, and membership on the All-SoCon Spring Academic Team in the two years that CMU has been a conference member. In addition, CMU has been named an Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Honor Squad in each of its four seasons of varsity lacrosse, and nine Chippewas were honored individually by the IWLCA for their respective academic achievements in 2019.
Quote from Central Michigan, Director of Athletics, Michael Alford:
“We are excited that lacrosse has officially been added as a Mid-American Conference sponsored sport and we appreciate Commissioner Steinbrecher's leadership and vision throughout this process,” said Alford. “This move represents an opportunity for all Central Michigan sports to exist under the MAC umbrella and to expand the ability to showcase our program and the sport of lacrosse throughout the Midwest. We would like to thank the Atlantic Sun and Southern Conference for supporting CMU lacrosse in our efforts to establish and grow our program through its first five years of existence.”
Quote from Central Michigan, Head Coach, Sara Tisdale:
“We are grateful that the MAC and Commissioner Steinbrecher had this vision all along and made the decision to do this when the timing was right,” said Tisdale. “The sport of lacrosse has grown so much in the Midwest, so I believe that 2021 is the year for us to make that jump and join all of our other sports here at Central Michigan in the MAC. This will make the rivalries really exciting; they’re familiar opponents. For us to be in the MAC and be on the same page as the rest of our sports, it makes it almost like one brand, one Central Michigan, and we are excited to be a part of that brand.”
Detroit Mercy Titans:
The Titans are entering their 12th season as a women’s lacrosse program and holds the distinction of being the first Division I program in the state of Michigan (first season was 2009). Detroit Mercy has had a strong history in women’s lacrosse, reaching four-straight ASUN Conference championship games (2013-16) and winning two-straight Southern Conference regular-season titles. They were the first team to defeat ASUN power Jacksonville in league history, topping them in the ASUN semifinals in 2016. The Titans were on the cusp of the NCAA Tournament that season, falling in overtime of the championship game to Old Dominion, 11-10.
Detroit Mercy is in its second season under head coach Megan Callahan, who was part of the second Titan women’s lacrosse team in 2010 and played for the program all four seasons, graduating in 2013. She has been a member of the staff in four seasons overall. The Titans swept the postseason honors in the inaugural season of SoCon women’s lacrosse in 2018 with Detroit Mercy earning Coach of the Year (Laurie Merian), Offensive Player of the Year (Kaitlyn Wandelt), Defensive Player of the Year (Allison McDonough) and Freshman of the Year (Meredith Moore) honors. The squad has two-straight seasons of 4-1 marks in SoCon women’s lacrosse entering their third season. In the past five seasons, the Titans have 46 victories and three 10-win campaigns, including a school-record 12 wins in 2016.
The Titans have a storied history in the NCAA record books as well with Anna Eidem (2009-12) leading the nation in goals per game (4.24) in 2012, scoring 72 goals in 17 games. Former Detroit Mercy standout Emily Boissonneault, who was also a member of the first Titan women’s lacrosse teams, also ranks 12th all-time in Division I women’s lacrosse history in caused turnovers per game (2.28), totaling 157 in 69 games from 2009-12. Boissonneault has continued playing after her collegiate career, starring for Team Canada on a world stage for several World Cups. Current Titan and sophomore Emily Beazley also recently made Team England’s roster as another Detroit Mercy played set to compete on a worldwide level. Current Titan and fifth-year senior Kaitlyn Wandelt is another standout who is set to break numerous records at the University. She was the ASUN Freshman of the Year in 2016 and following an injury that derailed her sophomore season, she came back to win the SoCon Offensive Player of the Year honor in 2018. Wandelt is a three-time All-Conference player and in her freshman season in 2016, led all of Division I in six different statistical categories among all freshmen.
Quote from Detroit Mercy, Director of Athletics, Robert Vowels, Jr.:
“We are extremely grateful for our current and past conference affiliations in women’s lacrosse. However, we could not pass up an opportunity to join the Mid-American Conference,” said Vowels, Jr. “We are excited about becoming a member of the Mid-American Conference in the sport of women’s lacrosse. The factors that made the move attractive are partnering with a Conference that continues to look to the future and invest in women’s sports, geographic location of Conference members, academic similarities and continuing to grow the sport of women’s lacrosse in this region of the country.”
Quote from Detroit Mercy, Head Coach, Megan Callahan:
“We are very excited to be joining the Mid-American Conference. It will enhance our student-athlete’s experience with it being such a good and known conference and centralized to our location, so it will help with travel and academics. I do want to thank the administration at the Mid-American Conference and here at Detroit Mercy for pushing this and allowing us to be a part of the next big thing in Midwest lacrosse,” said Callahan.
Eastern Michigan Eagles:
Eastern Michigan announced on Nov. 6, 2019 that women’s lacrosse will become a varsity sport beginning with the 2021-22 academic year. The Eagles are planning to hire the program’s first head coach in the Spring of 2020 and will carry a roster of 35 student-athletes.
Women’s lacrosse will be the 19th program available at Eastern Michigan, including 12 women’s programs. The team will play its game on turf at a yet to be determined location and additional coaching and support staff will be added in 2020 and 2021.
Quote from Eastern Michigan, Vice President/Director of Athletics, Scott Wetherbee:
“Women’s lacrosse is growing at an incredible pace and we are excited to expand opportunities for Michigan high school women to participate in a Division I sport and the academic experiences that Eastern Michigan provides,” said Wetherbee. “Women’s lacrosse is becoming increasingly popular at all intercollegiate levels and we feel the sport is a strong fit for our athletic program. We are very excited about the addition and I am certain the team will contribute to our legacy of athletic success.”
Kent State Golden Flashes:
The Kent State lacrosse program is entering its second season of competition under Head Coach Brianne Tierney. The Golden Flashes finished 2-15 in their inaugural season in the ASUN Conference. Kent State secured its first win in program history with a 21-5 triumph over Delaware State inside Dix Stadium on March 29, 2019.
Kent State was led in its first season by freshman Abby Jones, ASUN First-Team member. Jones recorded 52 points (32g, 20a) on the season, led the Flashes with 51 draw controls and tied for second on the team with 15 caused turnovers. The do-it-all midfielder returns for her sophomore season and will anchor a very young Golden Flashes squad.
The Flashes return 18 players this season, including 10 that started at least 10 games last season. Kent State also added nine freshmen to the team and look to take a huge step forward in year two.
Quote from Kent State, Director of Athletics, Joel Nielsen:
“We're excited to bring women’s lacrosse to the Mid-American Conference,” said Nielsen. “I’d like to thank Commissioner Ted Gumbart and Associate Commissioner Mike Hagen of the ASUN for allowing us to compete in their conference. Our student-athletes are excited about the opportunity to wear the MAC logo on our uniforms and be part of the same conference as all the other teams at Kent State.”
Quote from Kent State, Head Coach, Brianne Tierney:
“Firstly, we are so grateful to the ASUN for supporting us in the infancy of our team and allowing us the opportunity to compete for a conference in our first two seasons of the program. That kind of support is tantamount to scheduling quality competition and recruitment of high-level student-athletes,” said Tierney. “With the Mid-American Conference addition of lacrosse, I am excited to welcome new teams to Division-I and to continue the growth of our sport at a high level in the Midwest. We know the effort and support necessary to begin a team and to have that support on a conference level takes a huge commitment from the MAC leaders, our Conference opponents and affiliate members that we commend. We look forward to competing in the same Conference as the rest of Golden Flash athletic programs and sharing the common goal of competing for a MAC Championship.”
Youngstown State Penguins:
Youngstown State announced the creation of the women’s lacrosse program on Feb. 25, 2019, with the intent on its first season of competition in 2021. In July, former VCU assistant coach and Canisius standout Theresa Walton was named the program’s first-ever head coach.
Walton and her staff have been working to recruit student-athletes that will become the first women’s lacrosse team in school history when the 2020-21 academic year begins next August. Youngstown State will play it home games at Farmers National Bank Field at the Covelli Sports Complex.
Quote from Youngstown State, Director of Athletics, Ron Strollo:
“We are thrilled to begin our first season of women’s lacrosse in 2021 as a member of the Mid-American Conference,” said Strollo. “This league is a great fit geographical wise and we look forward to competing against some great programs. The facilities the school’s offer for all their sports are very impressive. Being part of the MAC in women’s lacrosse will be very beneficial to YSU as well as all the other programs.”
Quote from Youngstown State, Head Coach, Theresa Walton:
“We are very excited to be able to compete in the Mid-American Conference in our very first year. To have a chance to compete for a league championship in our first-ever season will be a big help in our recruiting process and we can structure a non-conference schedule that will prepare us for conference play. Women’s lacrosse is growing throughout the region and this will only help continue to grow those opportunities in the Midwest,” said Walton.
Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships, and will increase to 24 championships in 2020-21, and is one of ten members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in five (5) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.
Current full member institutions and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947). The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio. For more information visit www.GetSomeMACtion.com.