Theresa Walton Named as New Old Dominion Head Coach


Theresa Walton is the new head women's lacrosse coach at Old Dominion University after launching the Youngstown State program.

NORFOLK, Va. — Old Dominion University Director of Athletics Dr. Wood Selig announced on Wednesday the hiring of Theresa Walton as its new head women's lacrosse coach. Walton joins the Monarchs after two years at Youngstown State, where she was the first coach in the history of that program.
"First, I would like to thank our women's lacrosse search committee for their diligent effort in identifying such an outstanding pool of head coaching candidates for our vacancy. Led by our Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman's Administrator, Carolyn Crutchfield, this blue-ribbon committee included tons of lacrosse expertise from Ashley Vellines, Aimee Clark, Danielle Cohea, and Drew Jacobs," Selig said.
"The search was thorough and led us to an outstanding hire in Theresa Walton. Coming to ODU with ties and a familiarity with the Commonwealth will be an asset but most importantly the job Coach Walton did in taking a start-up program at Youngstown State and turning it quickly within two years into a conference championship program is remarkable," he added. "Coach Walton is a dynamic leader and teacher who will bring some of the nation's elite women's lacrosse athletes to ODU. She is relentless on the recruiting trail. I look forward to working with Coach Walton and I welcome her to the ODU family."
Crutchfield echoed the sentiments with Walton leading the lacrosse program. "After an extensive search, we are confident we found the right person for the future of ODU Lacrosse. Theresa has a passionate and gritty personality that comes across immediately. She has had proven success as a head coach and we can't wait to see the program grow under her leadership," she said. 
Walton helped lead the Penguins from inception to conference champions in just two years of existence. In just her second season as a Division I head coach she was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year.

In 2022, YSU won a share of the Mid-American Conference title with an 8-2 league mark. In the middle of the standings as April began, the Penguins got on a roll winning their final five contests to tie Robert Morris and Central Michigan atop the MAC standings. In its final five regular-season games, the Penguins won four road contests, including wins at CMU and RMU for the program's first win against those two-MAC powers. At Robert Morris on the final day of the regular-season, the Penguins rallied from a four-goal deficit to stun the Colonials. YSU was picked to finish fifth in the six-team conference in the preseason polls.

Freshman Natalie Calandra-Ryan led a major offensive turnaround as she was named the MAC's Freshman of the Year. Calandra-Ryan scored a conference record 68 goals in earning first-team league accolades. Aryss Lindsey joined Calandra-Ryan on the first team while Savannah Clarke, Erin Clark and Ali Korin were second-team All-MAC selections. Korin added 54 goals while Clark had 36 goals and 36 assists during the year. Clarke was stellar in goal averaging 9.3 saves per game and a .429 save percentage.

The program's first year was in the spring of 2021. With COVID-19 restrictions, the Penguins played conference games only. YSU picked up the first program win in school history beating Detroit Mercy and knocked off Kent State as well.

Walton, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., is familiar with the Mid-Atlantic region after spending two seasons at VCU focusing on the defensive unit, goalkeepers and was as recruiting coordinator for Head Coach Jen O'Brien at VCU before taking over the YSU program. The Rams posted seven victories in each of Walton's two seasons with the school. 
In 2019, VCU was 7-11 and went 4-5 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Rams' defense caused 187 turnovers in the 18 games. 
In 2018, VCU finished the year 7-11 overall with a 5-4 Atlantic 10 record. The team earned their first Atlantic 10 Championship berth by defeating seven-time defending conference champion UMass in the regular season, halting a NCAA record 61-game conference winning streak.
Walton headed a defensive unit that helped propel the team to its first winning record in conference and included the program's first wins over Davidson and UMass. The defense held opponents to single-digit goals four times in 2018, which also featured two overtime wins. The defense forced a school-record 192 turnovers with eight Rams causing at least 10 turnovers for the campaign.
She joined VCU after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Mount Olive. In her first two years at Mount Olive, the Trojans had an overall record of 27-9. In 2015, Walton helped guide Mount Olive to the Conference Carolinas Women's Lacrosse Championship as the team was ranked No. 9 in the year-end Nike/LaxMagazine Division II Women's Lacrosse Top 20 Poll, the highest ranking in program history.
Prior to arriving at Mount Olive, Walton served as an assistant coach at Alma College (Mich.), where she helped the team to a 16-3 mark. Alma posted a record of 7-8 the year prior to her arrival.
Walton earned her bachelor's degree in communications at Canisius College (N.Y.) and helped lead the Griffins to back-to-back Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women's lacrosse titles, including the first title in school history. Walton earned MAAC All-Tournament honors during Canisius' first title run. She tallied 42 goals and eight assists for 50 points during her career.

She is a graduate of Nottingham High School where she earned Academic All-America and OSHL All-League honors.
"I feel unbelievably grateful to be a part of Old Dominion University and to be at the helm for the Women's Lacrosse Program. I'd like to thank the search committee, Ashley Waters, along with the entire administration for this opportunity to be a part of such a family oriented athletic department," Walton said. "Monarch Nation is an exceptional community, and it feels great to walk around the Norfolk area and campus. The pride, support, and energy around the entire University is evident. I am looking forward to being a contributing member to all things ODU, and I am especially excited to get to work with this current ODU Lacrosse team."
"After speaking with the team, there is already such a great team culture that is ready to get after it and go to work every day. I am looking forward to connecting all Monarchs of current players, future players, and the great alumni base that is out there to rally behind this program and Reign On!," Walton added.

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