More than two decades ago, John Raba was hired as Wesleyan’s men’s lacrosse coach.
Twenty-two years, to be exact. He inherited a program with just six winning seasons across the 1980s and mid-90s.
Even when Raba and Co. started rattling off doubledigit winning seasons, the NESCAC was run by Middlebury in the 2000s, which won seven straight conference titles and three national championships. Then came Tufts’ run at the turn of the decade, with seven conference titles and three national championships of its own under head coach Mike Daly.
Wesleyan always was there competing, runner-up in the league five times and winning its only NESCAC title in 2009. More often than not, though, that final game was too far out of reach, the national stage too tall of a task.
But when 2018 rolled around, things felt different. The pieces, led by a 15-member senior class, all were there for the Middletown, Conn.-based school.