On Sunday, May 27, 2018, the Wesleyan men's lacrosse program made history by winning the University's first NCAA national team championship ever. The Cardinals, ranked No. 9 in the country entering the championship game, defeated then-No. 3 Salisbury University, 8-6, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The win not only ended Salisbury's chance of a three-peat but also denied the national powerhouse a chance of tying Hobart for the most titles in Division III history (13). Wesleyan's all-time leading goal scorer and three-time All-American, Harry Stanton '18, scored twice and was named the Most Outstanding Player.
The Cardinals' historic NCAA Tournament run featured victories over SUNY Cortland (16-12), then-No. 8 Cabrini (12-7), at then-No. 2 Tufts (12-11), at then-No. 1 RIT (19-18) and then-No. 3 Salisbury. Wesleyan, who had lost its previous two games to Tufts—once in the regular season and again in the NESCAC Championship game—earned a thrilling victory over the Jumbos in the NCAA Quarterfinals as Taylor Ghesquiere '18 scored the game-winning goal with just 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Four days later, Wesleyan traveled up to Rochester, N.Y. for a Final Four showdown against the No. 1 team in the country. In a rematch from 2017, the Cardinals prevailed this time around in an instant classic, 19-18, as they handed RIT its only loss of the year (21-1).
On Friday, May 25, Wesleyan embarked on its three-day NCAA Championship weekend experience. Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots, served as host for the Division I, Div. II and Div. III championships.
Day 1 | Practice, Reception
The Cardinals began their three-day journey with an early practice at Westwood High School in Westwood, Massachusetts. Later that night, the NCAA hosted a reception for the Division II and Division III championship teams inside Gillette Stadium at the West Putnam Club, where Carter Hawthorne '19 received the Elite 90™ award—presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the finals.
Day 2 | Practice, Green Room Shoot, NCAA Fan Fest
On Saturday, May 26, Wesleyan took the field at Gillette Stadium for the first time with an early morning practice. Shortly after, Head Coach John Raba and several Cardinals took part in a green room shoot for assets to be displayed on the video boards. Afterward, Wesleyan participated in the NCAA Fan Fest in which the student-athletes signed autographs.
Day 3 | Game Day
Sunday, May 27, history was made. Players took the field at 11:57 a.m. and starting lineups were announced at 12:59 p.m. Three minutes later, the horn sounded and 34 seconds after that, Taylor Ghesquiere put Wesleyan on the board with the first goal of the game. The Cardinals came out hot and scored the first four goals in just under eight minutes of play. Salisbury rallied and got within one early in the third quarter, but Wesleyan regained its composure with three three-straight scores en route to an 8-6 victory.
Wesleyan in the News:
>> Wesleyan Head Coach John Raba on Winning D-III National Championship; Lax Sports Network (video)
>> Wesleyan's National Title Was 22 Years in the Making, Built Through Triumph and Tragedy; Inside Lacrosse
>> Wesleyan Men's Lacrosse Defeated Salisbury to Win Their First National Title in Program History; CT Sports Now (video)
>> Ode to Wesleyan Lacrosse-The Champs; Lacrosse Allstars
>> Wesleyan Soars Past Salisbury for National Title; New England Lacrosse Journal
>> Wesleyan National Championship Result of University Commitment, Takes Place at Home of Top Supporter Bill Belichick; Hartford Courant
>> Wesleyan Lacrosse Wins Its First NCAA Championship With 8-6 Win Over Salisbury; Hartford Courant
>> Every Challenge Answered: Wesleyan Downs Salisbury for First DIII Title; US Lacrosse Magazine
>> This moment is 'not too big' for Wesleyan; CT Post
>> Program Record Nine USILA All-Americans
>> 2018 Division III New England Champions
>> 2018 Little Three Champions
>> Seven NEILA All-New England Team Selections
>> Seven All-NESCAC Selections
>> IMLCA Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year
>> Six IMLCA All-Region Selections
>> Two USILA Scholar All-Americans
>> Harry Stanton '18 Became Program's All-Time Leader in Goals
>> Carter Hawthorne '19 Became Program's All-Time Leader in Assists