The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) comes back to Columbus on June 16-17 for the first time since 2019. Ahead of the action-packed weekend featuring four matches over two days at OSU Lacrosse Stadium, let's take a look at the history of lacrosse in Columbus. You may be surprised to know Central Ohio’s lacrosse history includes outstanding players and teams at the high school, college and professional levels, and multiple championships. 


High School History

Thomas Worthington High School started the area’s first boy’s club team in 1970, with Upper Arlington High School adding a team in 1972. From 1989 to 2016, the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association (OHSLA) sponsored the boy’s state championship tournament. Thomas Worthington won the first three OHSLA state titles, then Upper Arlington emerged as the state’s dominant team, winning 16 of the next 28 titles.

The Ohio Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association (OSLA) held its first state championship tournament in 2000. Columbus Academy won the first of its three titles that year. Upper Arlington won the most OSLA titles (7).

Lacrosse became an official Ohio High School Athletic Association sport during the 2016-17 season, a big step forward that has helped lacrosse continue to grow in Ohio. Central Ohio schools have done exceptionally well. Upper Arlington won the first three girl’s Division I state titles, Dublin Coffman won the 2021 title and New Albany won in 2022 (the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to COVID). On the boy’s side, Upper Arlington won the 2022 championship, its first OHSAA state title. Dublin Coffman was the 2019 champ and Dublin Jerome took the 2021 title. In Division II, the St Francis DeSales boys took top honors in 2018 and 2022, and the girls won the 2019 championship.


College Lacrosse is Building a Future

The future seems bright at local universities. Ohio State recently opened the state-of-the-sport Ohio State Lacrosse Stadium, and Denison University has announced plans to open a new lacrosse stadium in 2024.

“The stadium is a premier venue for lacrosse not only in Ohio, but across the country, and has so much to offer both the student-athletes and fans in terms of the game day experience,” Ohio State men’s coach Nick Myers said in a recent statement.

Denison’s Kienzle Stadium is named in honor of former Big Red midfielder Rick Kienzle (Class of ’05) and his wife, Cindy who helped finance the project. The stadium will have a synthetic turf field, press box, permanent bleachers, outdoor lighting, and scoreboards. “Denison is on a winning streak, and our men’s and women’s lacrosse teams are achieving outstanding success in their competitions,” Rick Kienzle said in a statement.

The Capital University women’s team made history in 2022, winning its first Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) regular season and tournament titles to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time.


Buckeye Hall of Famers

The Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame added two lacrosse players in 2022.

Alayna Markwordt (2009-12) is the women’s all-time leader in points (314), goals (181) and third in career assists (133). She was a two-time, Second Team All-American.

Greg Bice (2001-04) was a two-time All-American and helped lead the Buckeyes to two NCAA Tournament berths. He went on to play 13 seasons in Major League Lacrosse and was a four-time All Star.


Professional Champions

The Ohio Machine were members of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) from 2012 to 2018. Led by two-time league MVP Tom Schreiber, the Machine advanced to the title game in 2016, losing to the Denver Outlaws 19-18. The following season, the Machine and Outlaws once again advanced the championship game, with the Machine coming from behind to win 17-12 to claim the Steinfeld Cup.

After the 2018 season, the MLL contracted from nine to six teams and the Machine were one of the causalities. The MLL was absorbed by the PLL in December 2020.

Rather than the traditional pro sports league model of teams based in one city, the PLL brings the show on the road. Eight teams travel to 11 cities from June to August, playing across the country. Columbus is the third stop on the 2023 PLL schedule, coming to the new OSU Lacrosse Stadium on June 16-17. Get tickets here.