IWLCA Announces National, Regional Coaches of the Year

PHOTO BY JOHN STROHSACKER


NORTHBOROUGH, MASS. — The IWLCA has named the 2021 National and Regional Coaches of the Year in Division I, II, and III. All three National Coaches of the Year led their teams to the NCAA Championship in 2021. All winners will be honored at the IWLCA Convention scheduled for November 17-19, 2021 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas.

DIVISION I
ACACIA WALKER-WEINSTEIN, BOSTON COLLEGE

Acacia Walker-Weinstein led BC to the 2021 National Championship, her first as a head coach and the first in BC program history. The Eagles’ opened at #12 in the IWLCA preseason poll, before beating Albany, then-#14 USC and then-#22 UMass to open the year. Then after falling to #1 North Carolina, BC went on a nine-game win streak, with six wins over ranked teams and four top-10 wins. BC ended up the three seed in the ACC Tournament and fell to Syracuse in the ACC Semifinal. The Eagles were the four seed heading into the NCAA Tournament and defeated Fairfield and Temple before beating #5 Notre Dame, 21-10 to make their fourth-straight final four. BC then beat undefeated #1 UNC in the semifinal and #3 Syracuse in the national title game to win the championship. The Eagles finished 18-3 on the year. Under Walker-Weinstein, BC had one of the best offenses in the country, ranking 5th in scoring offense at 16.76 goals per game and leading the nation in shooting percentage at 53.1%. Walker-Weinstein coached the Tewaaraton Award winner and IWLCA Player of the Year, Charlotte North, who set a new NCAA record with 102 goals in a single season and NCAA Tournament record with 31 goals in a single tournament.

DIVISION II
JACK CRIBBIN, LINDENWOOD

In 2021, Cribbin led Lindenwood to the first NCAA Division II National Championship in school history. Cribbin was named the 2021 GLVC Coach of the Year, as the Lions garnered 11 all-GLVC selections. Lindenwood landed eight on the IWLCA all-region list in the Midwest Region. Lexi Biller, Hailey Dobbins, Erin McGuire, and Carly Federowski earned All-American recognition by the IWLCA. While preparing for the semifinal game, Paige Sutton received the Elite 90 Award for her academic and athletic achievements. The Lions went 17-1 on the season, including a 7-0 mark inside the GLVC. Off the field, the Lions registered a team GPA of 3.59 with 24 players earning GLVC academic all-conference honors. Lindenwood saw eight players post a 4.0 GPA during the 2020-21 academic year.

DIVISION III
JIM NESTOR, SALISBURY

Head coach Jim Nestor led Salisbury to its second undefeated season in 2021 with a 20-0 record capped off by a 14-13 win over Tufts for the team’s fourth national championship in program history. Salisbury also captured its 19th conference championship with a 7-0 record in the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference. Salisbury was ranked in the top-10 throughout 2021, culminating with top billing in the final IWLCA poll released on May 24. As a team, Salisbury ranked 20th in scoring margin (8.86), 21st in scoring offense (16.70), 24th in points per game (24.05), 36th in scoring defense (7.85) and 38th in shot percentage (.493). Nestor also coached the National Player of the Year and Attacker of the Year Alexis Strobel and National Defender of the Year Carrie Hesen along with three All-Americans and six All-Region selections.

REGIONAL COACHES OF THE YEAR

DIVISION I

Mid Atlantic Region: Jill Batcheller, Drexel University

Jill Batcheller led the Dragons to new heights in the 2021 season and put Drexel on the map as a serious contender. In a year of firsts, Batcheller led a program that only put up four wins in 2018 to regular season champions, a national ranking as high as #10, a #4 RPI and a top national ranking in three different stat categories. The Dragons went on several runs in 2021, including an eight-game win streak from March 20 to May 7. Batcheller tallied her 100th career victory in the Dragons final regular season matchup of the year against Towson. After having their impressive 2020 run cut short, Batcheller pushed the Dragons to a 13-3 overall record and an appearance in the CAA Championship matchup and NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Dragons were only the third team in Drexel Athletics history to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Following the conclusion of the regular season, Batcheller was named the Dragons first ever CAA Coach of the Year. In addition to her own accolades, Batcheller also mentored the CAA Player of the Year, CAA Goalkeeper of the Year, a Tewaaraton Top-25 nominee and had two athletes receive IWLCA All-American status. The Dragons entered their NCAA matchup against Rutgers favored to make a run in the tournament, but had their season cut short in a tough 16-13 loss to the Scarlet Knights in the opening round.

Northeast Region: Acacia Walker-Weinstein, Boston College

See bio above.

South Region: Jenny Levy, North Carolina

In 2021, Jenny Levy guided North Carolina to 20 consecutive wins to open the season, a fifth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championship and its ninth trip to at least the NCAA semifinals in the last 12 tournaments. Levy led UNC to its 12th final four and ninth ACC regular season title under her tutelage, running its winning streak over the 2020 and 2021 seasons to 27 games. That 27-game winning streak is the longest in school history and the seventh-longest in NCAA annals. UNC posted a perfect, 9-0, record in the ACC regular season, the top conference in America, and went 18-1 against IWLCA-ranked teams overall in 2021. Carolina led the nation in scoring defense (at 6.57 goals allowed per game) and outscored its 2021 opponents by 9.05 goals per game (ranking third nationally). The Tar Heels’ 20 wins tied the UNC program record. UNC won its sixth overall ACC Tournament, and Levy’s ACC coaching peers voted her the 2021 ACC Coach of the Year for the sixth time. At the end of the season, the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame named Levy as a 2021 inductee into its ranks.

West/Midwest Region: Kelly Amonte Hiller, Northwestern

Kelly Amonte Hiller led Northwestern women’s lacrosse to a 15-1 season in 2021 that saw the Wildcats reach the national semifinals. The campaign was one for the record books as Northwestern posted a perfect 11-0 regular season en route to capturing the program’s first-ever Big Ten regular season title and conference tournament championship. The 2021 Big Ten Coach of the Year guided Northwestern to historic offensive numbers as the Wildcats led the country in scoring (20.12), points per game (28.75), draw controls per game (19.19), shots per game (39.81) and shots on goal per game (30.06), while NU’s 9.25 scoring margin was the second-best nationally. The 20.12 goals per game is an NCAA record. Amonte Hiller mentored Izzy Scane, who was a Tewaaraton Award finalist and 2021 Big Ten Attacker of the Year, as she broke the NCAA record for goals per game (6.12) and the Northwestern single-season record for goals with 98.







DIVISION II

Atlantic Region: Xeni Barakos-Yoder, East Stroudsburg University

During her sixth season as head coach of the Warriors, Xeni Barakos-Yoder continued to raise East Stroudsburg women’s lacrosse to unprecedented heights. The Warriors posted a 12-4 record and an 8-2 PSAC conference record. As the three-seed in the region, Barakos-Yoder led the Warriors to its second-ever Atlantic Region title, taking down previously undefeated West Chester, 13-9, in the Atlantic Region Championship game. She guided midfielder Hana Cicerelle to become the program’s all-time points leader and goalkeeper Tatyana Petteway to become program’s all-time saves leader during the 2021 campaign. All four of ESU’s losses in 2021 came against top-five nationally ranked competition in West Chester and NCAA runner-up Queens. ESU finished a program-best No. 4 in the final IWLCA Coaches Poll. Overall, the Warriors earned three all-America selections, six all-region honorees and seven earned all-conference recognition. In just six seasons, Barakos-Yoder has led ESU to a 75-23 record with four NCAA tournament appearances. Prior to Barakos-Yoder taking the reins of the program, ESU had never earned a bid to the NCAA tournament.

East Region: Kristin Paolini, Roberts Wesleyan College

Paolini led the Redhawks to a 14-2 record that ended with a loss to eventual National Champion Lindenwood University in the NCAA Semifinal match. Roberts Wesleyan finished the 2021 campaign ranked #7 in the final IWLCA Coaches Poll and had two players recognized as second-team All-Americans. Under Paolini’s leadership, the Redhawks claimed their first ECC Championship and the NCAA’s East Region Championship.

Midwest Region: Jack Cribbin, Lindenwood University

See bio above.

South Region: Clare Short, Queens University

Clare Short and the Royals rode a 12-game winning streak to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA DII Women’s Lacrosse National Championship game during the 2021 season. Queens repeated as South Region Champions to reach the Final Four for the second straight time and defeated East Stroudsburg for their first-ever NCAA Championship semifinal win. Prior to receiving their fourth program bid to the Championships, the Queens women’s lacrosse all-time winningest coach led the Royals to their sixth SAC Regular Season Championship and their seventh consecutive SAC Tournament Championship. Three Royals earned IWLCA All-American honors at the close of the season while five earned All-Region honors and nine earned SAC All-Conference recognition. The Royals finished the season ranked No. 2 nationally with a 14-2 record.

DIVISION III

Berkshire Region: Kristin Mullady, Springfield College

Mullady helped lead Springfield to an undefeated regular season as the Pride clinched the top seed in the NEWMAC Championship. While navigating a season filled with uncertainties and pauses due to COVID-19 protocols, Mullady powered Springfield to a spot in the NEWMAC Women's Lacrosse Championship for the sixth-straight season as she was tabbed the NEWMAC Coach of the Year. Under Mullady's leadership, Springfield's Kate Sarnacki became the second IWLCA Division III All-American honoree in program history, in addition to being the institution's NCAA Woman of the Year nominee. Springfield ranked in the top 25 nationally in assists per game and free-position percentage as the Pride was led by a pair of all-region selections and the NEWMAC Offensive and Defensive Athletes of the Year in Sarnacki and Gabby Fogg.

Boardwalk Region: Evan Mager, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Evan Mager, the 2021 Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Freedom Women’s Lacrosse Coach of the Year, led Fairleigh Dickinson University to its first undefeated regular season in program history and to its eighth MAC Tournament Championship this year. Under the guidance of Mager and led by IWLCA All-American Katie Walsh and USA Lacrosse Magazine All-American Kylee Garcia, the Devils defeated Delaware Valley (20-2), King’s (22-6) and Stevens (15-14) in the postseason on their home field to capture the conference crown and storm into the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. At the end of the 2021 season, the Devils took home four of the five major awards from the MAC. FDU’s potent offense also smashed the record for most goals in a single game in back-to-back contests when the Devils posted a 23-4 win over Wilkes on April 10, and then a 24-4 victory over Delaware Valley on April 14.

Chesapeake Region: Jim Nestor, Salisbury University

See bio above.

Empire Region: Linda Michele, St. John Fisher College

Michele led No. 3 St. John Fisher College to its ninth consecutive Empire 8 Championship in 2021 after going unbeaten in conference play. The 2021 Empire 8 Coach of the Year, Michele guided the Cardinals to their first-ever Regional Championship and Final Four appearance this season after defeating three nationally-ranked opponents in the NCAA Championship including then No. 6 Catholic University and then No. 10 Messiah College. With Michele at the helm, Fisher finished its historic season ranked second in Division III in scoring defense at 4.70 goals per game and in total draw controls with 310. The team was 13th in winning percentage (.900) and scored 428 total points on the year – the fifth most of any team in Division III. Michele mentored 10 All-Conference selections, three All-Region honorees, two All-Americans and the 2021 NCAA Elite 90 winner. Michele and the Cardinals are 40-4 over the last three seasons.

Great Lakes Region: Amanda Daniels, Denison University

Daniels led Denison to a 12-2 record in 2021, culminating in a loss to eventual national champion Salisbury University in the NCAA semifinals. The Big Red landed three players on the IWLCA All-American lists, one each on the first, second, and third teams. Denison was the NCAC tournament Champion in 2021, earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Daniels mentored six players to spots on the All-NCAC West team, including the Offensive Player of the Year and Midfielder of the Year.

Metro Region: Heather McKay, Messiah University

The 2021 season was a historic one for the Messiah Falcons. Led by head coach Heather McKay, the Falcons put together the most successful season in program history, going 18-1 and advancing to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. McKay was named the MAC Commonwealth Coach of the Year as the Falcons claimed their eighth Conference Championship in program history and their fifth in the last six seasons. McKay and the Falcons finished the season ranked No. 5 in the final IWLCA Division III National Ranking. Prior to the 2021 season, Messiah had never advanced past the Sweet 16, but wins over Illinois Wesleyan in the Second Round and SUNY Cortland in the Regional Semifinal put the Falcons into their first-ever Elite Eight. Messiah was dominate on both sides of the ball this season, finishing with the eighth best scoring defense at 5.74 goals per game and 13th in scoring offense at 17.42 goals per game for the sixth-highest margin of victory for the 2021 season at 11.68

Pilgrim Region: Courtney Shute, Tufts University

Shute repeats as NESCAC Coach of the Year, after receiving the honor when it was last handed out in 2019. Tufts won the East Division, then hosted and won the conference championship game for the program's first title. En route to an appearance in the NCAA Championship game, Tufts defeated Cabrini, Roger Williams, The College of New Jersey, and St. John Fisher. Against Salisbury, the Jumbos came within a whisper of the national championship, falling to the Gulls 14-13 to cap the 2021 season with a 10-1 record. The Jumbos outscored their opponents 172-77 this spring. 

West Region: Meghan Keelan, Rhodes College

Meghan Keelan helmed the Lynx to a 14-1 record in 2021 after advancing to the second round of the NCAA Division III Championship. Under Keelan, the Lynx won 14 straight games on their way to SAA regular season and tournament championships. This season, Keelan earned her 100th career victory in the fourth game of the season in a dominating 23-3 victory over Hendrix. A record eight Lynx garnered All-West Region honors and 10 All-SAA accolades, while Baylee Barker was tabbed second team All-American and SAA Offensive Player of the Year. Barker is just the second All-American in program history, and as a junior, is the youngest to earn the honor. This season Keelan was named SAA Women’s Lacrosse Coach of the Year after the Lynx went 5-0 in conference. Statistically, Rhodes was ranked among the top in several NCAA Division III rankings at the end of this season, including scoring offense, shots per game, and shots on goal per game.

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