IWLCA Announces 2023 Coaching Staff of the Year Recipients
18 Institutions Recognized
The IWLCA has announced the 2023 National and Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year in Division I, II, and III. All three National Coaching Staff of the Year honorees earned a National Title this past season. All winners will be honored at the IWLCA Convention which is set to take place this November at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel in Tampa, Florida.
The IWLCA Coaching Staff of the Year Award honors one National and multiple Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year from each NCAA Division and a National Coaching Staff of the Year from the NAIA. Ahead of the 2023 season, the IWLCA Board of Directors approved changing the name of this award to recognize the entire coaching staff, rather than individual coaches.
IWLCA National Coaching Staff of the Year – Division I
Led by head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller, Northwestern captured the program’s eighth national title and first since 2012. She moved into a tie to lead the sport’s all-time record book for titles won by a head coach. After dropping the opening game of the season, the Wildcats ran the table the rest of the way, winning 21 straight games and grabbing Big Ten regular season and Big Ten Tournament titles. Graduate student attacker Izzy Scane led the nation in goals (99) and was named the 2023 women’s Tewaaraton Award winner and IWLCA Player of the Year. As a team, Northwestern led the nation in scoring offense (16.95) and scoring margin (8.05). Amonte Hiller was joined on the sideline by Scott Hiller, Alexis Venechanos, Charlie Leonard and Jaclen Moxley.
IWLCA National Coaching Staff of the Year – Division II
Pace University won its first-ever NCAA Championship this May under the tutelage of sixth-year head coach Tricia Molfetta and her staff, assistant coach Melissa Alamprese and volunteer assistant Rob Molfetta. Pace defeated top-seed West Chester, 19-9, in the title game to not only win the University’s first national championship but the first team NCAA Championship for any school in Westchester County New York. The 2023 Setters were ranked No. 2 nationally for most of the season and went 12-0 in the Northeast-10 Conference, winning the league's regular-season title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. Pace was the NE10 Championship Runners-up, losing 14-13 to No. 2 seed LeMoyne, but rallied with a 16-10 win over New Haven in the first round of the NCAA East Regional First Round and a 14-5 win over Adelphi in the Regional Final. During NCAA Championship weekend, the Setters defeated Florida Southern 22-11 before winning it all to put a feather in the cap of a near-perfect season. Pace finished the season ranked No. 1 nationally and had a cumulative team GPA of 3.58.
IWLCA National Coaching Staff of the Year – Division III
Middlebury head women’s lacrosse coach Kate Livesay, along with assistant coaches Dani Ellis and Amy Patton, led the Panthers to an unblemished 23-0 overall record and a 10-0 NESCAC mark. Middlebury concluded the season by claiming its 11th conference title and third-consecutive NCAA Championship while being ranked No. 1 in the ILWomen/IWLCA Division III Poll for the entire season. The Panthers ranked fourth nationally in clearing percentage (.900), scoring margin (10.91) and scoring offense (17.91), while also sitting sixth in free-position percentage (.575) and eighth in draw controls per game (17.57). Livesay was named the 2023 NESCAC Coach of the Year.
IWLCA National Coaching Staff of the Year – NAIA
Savannah College of Art and Design
Head Coach Melody Shotwell, in her first year at the helm of the SCAD women's lacrosse program, led her team to a 12-6 record, including a Runner-Up finish at the NAIA National Championship. The Bees started the season with a 1-5 record before going on an 11-game win streak which included upset wins over then-No. 4 Life (14-11) and then-No. 1 Keiser in the Sun Conference Championship final (9-6) followed by the NAIA National Championship semifinal (20-6). SCAD's appearance in the NAIA National Championship final marks the first time the Bees have advanced to the Championship game since women's lacrosse moved from invitational status. Shotwell was named the NAIA Coach of the Year, while four Bees earned All-American honors this season.
Led by head coach Jen Adams, Loyola finished the 2023 campaign ranked No. 7 in the final ILWomen/IWLCA Division I poll. Loyola won the Patriot League championship and entered the NCAA Championship tournament with a 17-2 overall record and a 12-game win streak. The Greyhounds went 6-2 against ranked teams this season. The season ended in the NCAA quarterfinals after the Greyhounds notched their second-most victories in school history (19). The second-straight NCAA Quarterfinal appearance and 20 wins from last year combine for the most wins in back-to-back seasons (39). Adams was joined on the sidelines by assistant coaches Dana Dobbie and Caroline Hager, and the trio coached four IWLCA All-Americans, including the Division I Midfielder of the Year, Jillian Wilson.
The Eagles turned in another stellar season with a 19-4 mark and an 8-1 record in the ACC. Head coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein was joined by associate head coach Jen Kent, assistant coach Sam Apuzzo, graduate assistant Callahan Kent and volunteer assistant Courtney Taylor. Boston College advanced to a sixth straight Final Four and national title game after 13 straight wins. On its way to the Final Four, BC earned a third ACC regular-season title since 2018 and the program's first-ever ACC championship, ending UNC's streak of six straight titles with an 11-9 win. The Eagles also knocked off Syracuse in the regular season finale, ending the Orange's 15-0 record and later defeated Syracuse in the Final Four. BC saw 10 players earn All-American status through at least one of three publications, while five were named an All-American in all three. Shea Dolce (Freshman of the Year), Sydney Scales (Defender of the Year) and Belle Smith (Midfielder of the Year) garnered ACC Player of the Year awards, joining three others that were named All-ACC. Jenn Medjid was a top-five Tewaaraton finalist. Boston College's 119 wins since 2017 leads the country while boasting six final fours, a national title in '21 three ACC regular-season titles, and an ACC championship. Most recently, a program record 17 players were named to the ACC All-Academic team.
James Madison University
In its first season in the American Athletic Conference, James Madison won the league’s Coaching Staff of the Year award after going 6-0 and outscoring opponents 94-33 to capture the regular season title. Led by 17th-year Head Coach Shelley Klaes, JMU captured 19 wins for a 19-3 season, the second-most in a season in program history en route to its 11th appearance in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals. Eight of the 19 victories came against opponents ranked in the final ILWomen/IWLCA poll of the season, including a pair of victories over Maryland for the first time ever in a single season. The No. 6 Dukes finished in the top 10 of three national statistics – third in scoring defense (7.86), tied for third in free-position percentage (.541), and ninth in clearing percentage (.918). The season featured a 17-game winning streak, the longest in program history. Klaes was assisted by Associate Head Coach Kateri Linville (fourth season, second as Associate Head Coach), Assistant Coach Colleen Shearer (first season) and Volunteer Assistant Coach Matt Snyder (fifth season).
University of Denver
Led by head coach Liza Kelly, the Pioneers put together a historic campaign for the program with a 22-1 record and the team’s first-ever berth into NCAA Championship Weekend. DU’s 22 wins led the country while its one loss tied for the fewest among all Division-I programs – a defeat to eventual national champion Northwestern in the NCAA semifinals. The Pioneers completed the first undefeated regular season in program history (17-0) and their 22-game winning streak was the longest in the team record book. Denver led the country in defense for the first time, allowing just 6.22 goals per game – the fewest by any squad since Southern California in 2016 (5.81). DU ranked second in the nation with 12.65 caused turnovers per game (Campbell, 14.11), fifth in draw control percentage (.616) and seventh in saves percentage (.505). Denver ranked 10th in the country in scoring margin, winning by an average of 5.70 goals per contest. The Pioneers claimed their third-straight Big East Conference Tournament championship and fourth consecutive Big East regular-season title after going 6-0 in league play. Denver won 13 games away from home during the 2023 campaign, the most among any NCAA program. Kelly leads Denver’s defense and is joined on the sideline by fourth-year associate head coach and offensive coordinator Brice Queener and fifth-year assistant coach Brittany Read. DU women’s lacrosse alum Megan Zeman is in her sixth year back with the program and spent her second as the director of lacrosse operations.
West Chester University
West Chester University head coach, Ginny Martino, and her assistant coach for the past 19 years, Sue Burmester, directed the Golden Rams to the NCAA Division II National Championship Game with an overall record of 22-1, which represented the best record in the country at the end of the year. West Chester was undefeated on the season heading into that national title game. For her efforts, Martino was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Coach of the Year. The Golden Rams’ 22 wins tied an NCAA DII record for most victories in a single season. West Chester spent the majority of the regular season ranked No. 1 in the country as it played one of the toughest schedules in the nation.
In their first season at Maryville University, head coach Melissa Gyllenborg and assistant coach Carly Shisler authored one of the largest turnarounds in the nation. Inheriting a team that posted a 4-8 record in 2022, Gyllenborg and Shisler directed the Saints to a sparkling 17-3 record, Maryville’s first ranking in the national polls, and the program’s first berth into the NCAA Tournament. In the team’s first four seasons, Maryville won a total of 10 games, but the Saints recorded 13 straight victories to open the 2023 season. Maryville also notched its first win over a ranked team with a 15-11 victory at No. 11 Grand Valley State. The Saints had the No. 2 ranked scoring offense in the nation at 18.60 goals per game and ranked sixth in scoring margin at +9.2. In addition, Maryville was second in the nation in fewest turnovers per game at 11.85. Gyllenborg tutored Sydney Tiemann as she broke the NCAA Division II single-season scoring record with 115 goals in 2023. Gyllenborg was voted the Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year.
Florida Southern College
Florida Southern College Head Coach Kara Reber and assistant coaches Rachel Ortell, Brittney Embree, and volunteer coach Brenna O’Neill helped guide the Moccasins to an 18-4 overall record and a trip to the National Semifinals. The Mocs finished as the No. 2 ranked program in Division II and posted 13 wins over top-25 ranked opponents. Florida Southern earned the bid to the final four after defeating the 10th-ranked Flagler Saints in the first round and the 2nd-ranked Tampa Spartans 15-9 in the second round to advance to Indianapolis. The program saw a number of awards and honors roll in after their fourth trip to the semifinals in program history including the IWLCA Division II National Defender of the Year in Gina Verrone, the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year in Jackie Stoller, seven All-Sunshine State Conference selections, six IWLCA All-South Region honorees, four IWLCA All-Americans, four USA Lacrosse Magazine All-Americans, two NCAA National Championship All-Tournament Team selections, three named to the SSC All-Tournament Team, three selected to compete at the IWLCA Senior All-Star game, while seeing four student-athletes earn College Sports Communicators Academic All-District honors. In addition, Hailey Daleo was named a Third Team Academic All-American by the CSC.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Head coach Anne Versprille and assistant coach Kyra Schwartzman led MIT to a 16-4 record and a 9-0 NEWMAC ledger, resulting in the program’s first NEWMAC regular season title. The Engineers advanced to the NEWMAC Championship for the second time in program history and despite the loss, they qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the second time (first since 2015). Recipients of a first-round bye, No. 23 MIT fell to No. 13 Trinity, 11-10, in the second round. The Engineers earned the program’s first ILWomen/IWLCA poll ranking the week of April 17 and remained in the top 25 throughout the rest of the season. MIT ranked third in the country in assists per game (10.33), points per game (28.14), and scoring offense (17.81). MIT was named the 2023 NEWMAC Coaching Staff of the Year, swept the major conference awards (Athlete of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Rookie of the Year), and placed eight student-athletes on the All-Conference Team. The Engineers received the program’s first IWLCA All-America accolade while collecting a program-record six All-Region selections.
The College of New Jersey
TCNJ head coach Sharon Pfluger was tapped as the NJAC Coach of the Year by her peers. In 2023, she guided the Lions to a 13-3 regular season record and the NJAC regular season championship. TCNJ’s 2023 season ended with a 14-9 loss to Colby in the third round of the NCAA Tournament after they advanced to the Round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the 38th consecutive season. Pfluger is assisted by Robin Selbst, Jackie Scullin, Bob Henderson, and Jaclyn Douglas.
Washington and Lee University
Maddie Coleman and assistant coach Avery Blackmon led the Generals to an outstanding rookie campaign for the pair in Lexington. Along with volunteer assistants Jim Farrar, Tracy Tucker and Lauren Vance, the Generals were the second-ranked program for the majority of the 2023 season. The Blue and White ended the year second in scoring defense and turnovers per game with an average of six goals allowed and 11.38 turnovers per game and ranked amongst the top-10 in winning percentage (fourth - 0.905), clearing (third - 0.911) and scoring margin (seventh - +9.86). With a 19-2 overall record, Coleman and Blackmon led the program to matching its most wins in a season and downed top-25 teams on eight occasions. Under Coleman’s direction, five players earned All-America accolades, a program-best, between the IWLCA and USA Lacrosse Magazine recognition and eight IWLCA All-Region honorees which tied for the program’s record. Nine players were recognized with Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s postseason awards and the Generals swept the Player of the Year awards. Coleman was voted ODAC Coach of the Year en route to the program’s 13th straight, and 23rd overall, ODAC Championship trophy and a 3.65 team GPA.
William Smith College
William Smith head coach Anne Phillips and assistant coach Lindsay Magro were named the Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year. They directed the Herons to an unblemished 18-0 overall record (10-0 in league play) through the regular season and the Liberty League tournament. The Herons finished the season at 21-1 after losing to Gettysburg College in the NCAA semi-finals. William Smith topped the Liberty League in both goals per game (16.28) and scoring defense (6.78) while also averaging a league-best 10.17 caused turnovers per game and ranking second in ground balls per game (20). William Smith finished the season ranked No. 3 in the final ILWomen/IWLCA Division III Poll after a strong showing in their 23rd overall NCAA Tournament. This spring the Herons set program records for wins (21), goals (340), and draw controls (328).
Great Lakes Region
Kenyon College head coach Jess Good and her assistant coach, Tatiana Samuel, directed the Owls through an 18-2 season that included program records for wins (18) and for consecutive games won (17). The team went undefeated in North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) play, taking its second straight regular-season championship. Kenyon ranked first among all NCAC teams in goals, assists, points, and goals against average. The goal and point totals were program records. During the season, while unranked, Kenyon upset No. 25 SUNY Geneseo and No. 14 University of Chicago. Following the wins, the team earned its first national ranking in program history. The Owls, who ended up at No. 20 in the final ILWomen/IWLCA Division III poll, received a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament and won their second-round game before bowing out in the third round with a loss to No. 18 Pomona-Pitzer.
Franklin & Marshall College
The Franklin and Marshall Diplomats made their 12th appearance all-time in the NCAA Final Four during the 2023 season. Ranked inside the top 10 nationally all year long, the Diplomats avenged a regular season loss to Gettysburg to capture the ninth Centennial Championship in program history. The Diplomats continued to play their best lacrosse of the year during the postseason as they were selected as an opening weekend host, defeating Roanoke, Denison, and Pomona-Pitzer en route to the Final Four before falling to eventual national champion Middlebury. Ten of the Diplomats’ 18 wins came against teams who were in the ILWomen/IWLCA Division III Poll at the time of those games. F&M’s trip to the Final Four was the program’s third under head coach Mike Faith, and the first since back-to-back appearances during the 2015 & 2016 seasons. Faith is assisted by Cristina Maurizi and Corryne Sulpizio.
The Sagehens are led by head coach Sarah Queener, and she is assisted by Sylvia Queener and Brian Eisenberg. The historic 2023 season for Pomona-Pitzer lacrosse came to a close after an 18-13 loss to Franklin and Marshall in the Elite Eight of the 2023 NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Tournament. Pomona-Pitzer’s 11-3 victory over No. 21 Kenyon allowed them to make the program and conference's first NCAA Division III Elite Eight appearance. The team claimed their second-straight SCIAC Tournament Championship title and saw nine athletes earn All-SCIAC honors. Additionally, six Sagehens were named to the IWLCA West Region first team, and another two earned second team honors.