The 2007 Western New England men’s lacrosse team laid the foundation for a program that is now one of the most respected and successful in NCAA Division III.
Coming off four consecutive second place finishes in the Pilgrim League from 2003-06, the Golden Bears were determined to make their presence felt on the national scene. Under sixth-year head coach John Klepacki, they reeled off eight straight wins to open the season, including victories over No. 5 Tufts and No. 6 Nazareth. Western New England closed out the regular season with six more triumphs en route to a perfect 14-0 campaign.
After rolling to a 20-5 victory over Lasell in the Pilgrim League semifinals, the Golden Bears defeated city rival Springfield College 8-6 for the conference title, avenging a 12-11, double-overtime loss to the Pride in the previous season’s championship contest.
Western New England, which climbed to No. 3 in the USILA national poll, received a first round bye in the NCAA Tournament. The Golden Bears faced No. 17 and undefeated Keene State in the first NCAA contest played on campus in any sport. Leading 5-3 at halftime, Western New England scored six unanswered goals in the third quarter on its way to a 13-5 victory in front of 1235 fans at Golden Bear Stadium.
Although the team’s undefeated run ended in the quarterfinals against defending national champion SUNY Cortland, Western New England established itself as a national power. The Golden Bears finished with a program record 17 wins (17-1 overall), while their .944 winning percentage ranked second among 130 schools. They also finished fourth nationally in scoring defense (5.78) and sixth in scoring margin (7.39).
At the conclusion of the season, five Golden Bears were recognized as USILA All-Americans, including third team selections in senior attackman Adam Cherry, who led the team with 69 points, and junior face-off specialist Travis Brown. Junior goalie Chris Body, junior midfielder Jon Hayes, and sophomore defenseman Jared Pabis also received USILA Honorable Mention All-America recognition. Klepacki was selected as the USILA Division III Coach of the Year, becoming the first and only Western New England coach to earn a national coach of the year award.