If your son is going to be at Haverford, Swarthmore, or any of the NESCAC’s...congrats! The education and alumni networks from those schools are top notch.
The area of PA that Haverford and Swarthmore are in is beautiful and an easy ride from the Island. The level of lacrosse being played at the top of the NESCAC and the Centennial is most certainly comparable to the Division 1 level. ( If you are offered by Tufts/ Wesleyan and Marist/Sacred Heart... D1 isn’t always the best choice.)
In terms of NEEDing to be on a club team to be recruited? No, you don’t necessarily NEED to play club ball ( especially if you play at WM, GC, Manhasset, etc. as they will garner interest from college coaches through their HS play as well.) Many college coaches speak to club coaches and directors often... especially ones they know and trust, for information not only on their own players, but others as well ( most club coaches know who the top players in each organization are.). So all things being equal, a respected club coaches recommendation goes a long way. The other HUGE thing about club ball is that parents are present at games. Coaches are recruiting the player, yes, but they are also recruiting the family. If a players parents are the ones screaming negative things on the sidelines, yelling at refs, coaching from the sideline, etc. That behavior most likely will be the same in college, and most coaches don’t want the headache.