BEVERLY, Mass. – After a six-year run by the Endicott women's lacrosse team from 2009-14 in which the Gulls accumulated an 84-35 (.706) overall record, a 51-3 (.944) in-conference record, six consecutive Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Championships, six NCAA Division III Tournament automatic bids including two Second Round appearances, and numerous individual and team accolades for both academic and athletic accomplishments, the program's leader Meghan Fitzgerald has decided to step down from her head coaching role.
Fitzgerald, who splits her day-to-day responsibilities between the Athletic Department as the Head Women's Lacrosse Coach and the Office of Admission as an Associate Director of Admission, will stay on in the admission office.
"I am deeply saddened at the idea of leaving behind a women's lacrosse program that has grown tremendously over the past six years," said Fitzgerald, a two-time CCC Coach of the Year during her tenure. "I know, however, that with the talent that comes into this program year-in and year-out, the history of success that has been developed, and a supportive group of colleagues in the athletic department and around the Community that my successor will surely maintain a strong women's lacrosse tradition here at Endicott."
Fitzgerald came to Endicott in 2008 with a solid core of players left over from a women's lacrosse program that won the previous three CCC Championships prior to her arrival. In her first season in 2009, the Gulls went 15-5 (9-0 CCC) and cruised through the CCC Tournament and into the First Round of the NCAA Tournament as Fitzgerald had two 50-plus goal scorers in Alex Pearce '09 and Valerie Feldman '10. Feldman, who ended up as the program's all-time points leader (345 - 225g, 120a), capped off her stellar career with a 58-goal, 48-assist statistical output in 2010 along with another conference championship and NCAA postseason appearance.
With two successful seasons under her belt in 2009 and 2010, Fitzgerald's mark on the program began to take effect as her early recruiting classes began to develop into some of the region most talented players. On the offensive end, attacker Morgan DeShaw '12, midfielder Holly Davis '13, midfielder Kelly Tierney '13, and midfielder Callie Murphy '14 rank among the all-time program leaders in goals, points, and assists. Defensively, players like Michelle Loizzo '12, Lauren Todd '13, Kelsey Barnes '14, and Rachel Campos '14 have been vital parts of establishing one of the most respected programs in NCAA Division III lacrosse.
|Each of Fitzgerald's six conference titles ended with a celebratory victory splash at the end of the game.|
Endicott won CCC titles in all six of Fitzgerald's years at the helm of the Gulls women's lacrosse program, but the team's first NCAA Tournament would not come until 2013. After avenging a regular season loss to Western New England by beating the Golden Bears on their own turf to win their eighth consecutive CCC Championship, Endicott was rewarded with a home first round game in the NCAA Tournament. Endicott battled NEWMAC champion Springfield in a tightly-contested, 4-3 victory for the Gulls at Endicott Stadium.
One season later, Fitzgerald and her Endicott women's lacrosse team made it nine CCC titles in-a-row with a dramatic 14-13 win in the conference championship at home, scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals with under 20 seconds left in regulation. Endicott's standout record, postseason excellence, and marquee victories during the regular season warranted a first round bye by the NCAA Selection Committee that pitted the Blue and Green up against NESCAC powerhouse Middlebury. The Panthers would eliminate Endicott for the second straight year from the NCAA Tournament.
"The growth of the program has been phenomenal over the past six years. Whoever comes into this role is going to find a group of women that has the fundamentals of the game and the foundation for success already ingrained. There are also going to find an Endicott Community across campus, from faculty members to administrators, that will contribute to the program's continued success"
Fitzgerald ends her coaching career as Endicott's longest-tenured head coach at six seasons, ahead of Sharman Hayward who led the team from 1998-02 (five seasons). She is the program's all-time wins leader (84) and ranks just behind Mullen (.750) with a .706 win percentage. Fitzgerald has coached 47 All-CCC players including three CCC Offensive Players of the Year (DeShaw, Davis, Murphy), three CCC Defensive Players of the Year (Leah Neff, Barnes twice), and a CCC Rookie of the Year (Emily Whitney). Sixteen of her players have been named All-Region by the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) including First Teamers Molly Moss, DeShaw twice, Davis, Barnes, and Ellie Clayman. Davis was named a Capital One CoSIDA Second Team Academic All-American in 2013 while 26 student-athletes in total have been named to the CCC Academic All-Conference Team (2014 has not yet been released).
"I am incredibly thankful to everyone who has made my experience as a coach at Endicott these past six years so memorable and I am eternally grateful to still remain member of the Endicott Community in the admission office, as it truly is a special place."
The Endicott athletic department will be conducting a nationwide search for the women's lacrosse program's sixth head coach starting immediately. Any inquiries regarding the position or questions regarding the program can be directed towards Brian Wylie at 978-232-2440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.