Lacrosse gained varsity standing in 1926 after two years of informal play, with a team, coached by freshman football and basketball coach Ben Beck, which played five games for one win, three losses, and one tie. John Frederick Powers, a hockey coach from Boston, who coached in 1927, was followed by Allen E. Reed from Harvard in 1928, D. Alex Wieland in 1929, and A. Barr Snively from 1930 to 1932. In 1930 the team played a combined Oxford-Cambridge team which won, 6-0. On the English team was Albert Cornsweet ’29, Rhodes scholar at Oxford, who had formerly played for Brown. In 1931 the Athletic Council declared lacrosse a major sport. After a few losing seasons, the team had four winning seasons from 1930 through 1933, before a decline which lasted until the sport was dropped in 1937 during the Depression. Henry Letoile began coaching in 1933. That year Roger Elton ’33 led the team to six victories in ten games and was named to the All American lacrosse team. The following years were less successful. The 1938 Liber Brunensis, while noting that there were promising players in the Classes of 1940 and 1941, announced, “Lacrosse has been abandoned.”
Lacrosse was revived by an informal team without University recognition which competed in 1949 under the name of the Narragansett Lacrosse Club with Don Miller ’49 as coach and captain. The University supplied space and equipment and even physical education credits for the team members. The team had a 3-3 record in its first year. In 1950 the lacrosse team was coached by senior Alexander “Tim” Colahan ’50. Bear Facts, in September 1955 described the status of lacrosse, “The Brown Lacrosse Club is one of the most active groups on the campus. The Club plays a full schedule in the spring semester consisting of nine games.... Lacrosse is an easy game to learn, and experience is definitely not needed.” The next year, the lacrosse team was coached by Barry Marks and won six of eight games. Continuing informally, lacrosse was coached in 1959 and 1960 by Terry Reardon of the Providence Reds.
Lacrosse was recognized as a club sport in 1961, and after two successful seasons under coach Cliff Stevenson, was once again accorded varsity status in 1963. In 1964 the Brown lacrosse team had three All-Americans, Thomas H. Draper ’64, Michael T. Healy ’64, and William A. Lemire ’64. Stevenson, who coached from 1961 to 1982 and who once described lacrosse as “mayhem with a crooked stick,” had a 20-year record of 188-100-0, with eight New England championships, six of them between 1962 and 1972, and shared the Ivy League title with Cornell in 1969. His teams reached the NCAA quarterfinals three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1976. The 1973 team, spurred on by Stevenson’s promise to buy watches for the players if they won the Ivy League championship, finished 6-0 in the league, 10-2 overall, and won the New England championship, but was defeated by Maryland, 7-16, in the NCAA quarterfinals. Earlier in the spring a game with first-ranked Johns Hopkins, which Brown lost, 7-18, drew 7,100 spectators to Brown Stadium. The Brown team also lost to Maryland, 8-17, in the 1976 quarterfinals.
Dom Starsia ’74, who never saw a lacrosse game before he came to Brown, was All-American in 1973 and 1974, and in his senior year captain of his team in both the North-South All-Star and the New England All-Star games. He succeeded Stevenson as coach in 1982. His 1985 team won the Ivy League championship and lost to North Carolina, 14-16, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. Bill Aliber ’83 made the All-Ivy team three times from 1981 to 1983, as did Darren Lowe ’92 from 1990 to 1992. Brown made the quarterfinals three more times, in 1990, 1991, and 1992. The team was eliminated, 12-20, by Syracuse in 1990. The season of 1991, Brown’s finest, which included an undefeated regular season and the Ivy League title, ended when Brown’s second seeded team was eliminated in the NCAA quarterfinals, losing, 13-16, to the University of Maryland before 3,600 spectators at Stevenson Field. The 1992 team lost to North Carolina,10-16, in the quarterfinals. Starsia’s ten-year record at Brown was 104-46. Peter Lasagna began coaching in 1992.
Women students took up lacrosse in 1934 when Bessie Rudd acquired 24 lacrosse sticks, and made arrangements to pay for them in two installments. After a few intramural games a team played Wheaton College on May 14, 1934, and lost, 0-11. Women’s lacrosse began in earnest in 1974 with Dale Philippi as coach. Candis Russell coached from 1981 to 1987, and Wendy Anderson from 1988 to 1992. Among the best seasons for women’s lacrosse were 1977 with 8-0-2, in 1978 with 10-4, in 1986 with 8-4, and 1989 with 10-4. The team went to two ECAC playoffs, in 1989 and 1991. The 1991 team was ranked among the top ten nationally and played in the ECAC tournament, and two players, Suzanne Bailey ’91 and Monique Kapitulik ’91 were named to the All-American first team. Wendy Anderson’s three-year record is 36-32 overall, and 10-20 in the Ivy League.