My daughters schools club team practices 3x per week in the evenings and travels every weekend for games and tournaments. Club LAx lumps D1-D3 team together in divisions and rankings so if you look at the pre season national club rankings you will see D3 Cortland in the top 10 with UCLA, Florida, Boston College, Loyola and Duke. D2's and D3's get to travel and play games at big D1 schools which is a cool experience for the 2's and 3's.
They are still playing at a very high level, still traveling, still competing for a division, region and national title, still making friends and socializing all without a D1 program owning them 24-7 and they are HAPPY!
And just like the top D3 and D2 schools would beat many lower D1 programs, many of these club teams would beat plenty lower varsity teams. These club teams are LOADED with kids who could have played varsity (maybe not at the school they are attending, but a varsity program somewhere)but chose not to.
I whole heartily agree about the entire club lacrosse experience but do not get carried away with club teams being able to compete with varsity teams, when Michigan was dominating on the club level people kept on saying they were good enough to compete against many lower level D1 team, when they went Varsity they won 2 games in two years. I agree that there is a lot of good club players and teams but it is still a big jump up to varsity