Six Division 1 lacrosse programs will have new head coaches heading into the 2023 season. With five of the six positions filled, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at the new faces that will lead these programs.
None of the power three conferences (Ivy League, Big Ten, or ACC) made any changes. The America East (Bryant, NJIT, and UMass Lowell) will have three new coaches. The Big East (Providence and St. Johns) will have two new coaches. The MAAC (Manhattan) will have one new coach.
Here is a look at each of the coaches selected to lead their new Division 1 lacrosse programs.
Bobby Benson – Providence Friars
Bobby Benson was hired as the next head coach of the Providence Friars in June. He replaces Chris Gabrielli who resigned in May after 10 seasons.
Benson was the offensive coordinator for the 2022 national champion Maryland Terrapins. In his two seasons at College Park, Benson’s offense ranked No.1 or No.2 in the country and he coached two Tewaaraton winners in Jared Bernhardt and Logan Wisnauskas.
Benson’s resume made him a logical choice to lead the Friars according to Providence Athletic Director Steven Napolillo.
“Bobby’s coaching experience is extensive and comes to Friartown with a championship pedigree. He has served as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at some of the most storied lacrosse programs in NCAA Division I history. Bobby has reached the pinnacle of the sport, winning national titles at Johns’ Hopkins and Maryland.”
– Steven Napolillo Providence Athletic Director
Prior to coaching the Terrapins, Benson was the offensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins. He helped lead the Jays to the national championship in 2007 with one of the top extra-man units in the country. Benson earned high praise from his former Jays’ boss, Dave Pietramala.
“He understands the importance of preparation and possesses a strong sense for gameday management. He prioritizes relationship development in recruiting and will be a great teacher and mentor to the young men he coaches.”
– Dave Pietramala, Syracuse Assistant Coach and Former Johns Hopkins Head Coach
Benson is a graduate of John Hopkins and his wife, Taylor, is a 2003 graduate of Providence College and was a four-year member of the Friars’ swimming and diving team.
Brad Ross – Bryant Bulldogs
Brad Ross was hired as the Bryan Bulldog’s third head coach in program history. Ross takes over for Mike Pressler who retired in May and took the head coaching job at Highland Park High School (TX) stepping away from Division 1 lacrosse.
This is the second time that Ross will be coaching at Bryant. Ross was the associate head coach of the Bulldogs from 2011 to 2014. Bryant’s Director of Athletics Bill Smith talked about the previous success the Bulldogs had while Ross was on the sidelines.
“I was able to witness his coaching skills first hand when he was at Bryant and helped the Bulldogs win three NEC Championships and defeat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome…Coach Pressler often states that Brad is one of the top five toughest and most competitive student-athletes he’s ever coached, and that’s exactly what we want in our next head coach.”
– Bill Smith, Bryant Director of Athletics
Ross was a three-time All-American at Duke, playing in four NCAA Final Fours. Prior to Bryant, Ross was the offensive coordinator at Ohio State and Navy.
Drew Kelleher – UMass Lowell River Hawks
The River Hawks found their man in June in Manhattan’s head coach, Drew Kelleher. Kelleher led the Jaspers for seven seasons and guided them to the MAAC Championship and the program’s second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2022. Kelleher takes over for Ed Stephenson. Stephenson stepped down as head coach of the River Hawks after the season ended in May.
Director of Athletics, Peter Casey, looked at Kelleher’s ability to build a program as a key reason why he was the right hire.
“He has a proven track record of building a successful program at the Division I level and motivating student-athletes to achieve their goals on the field and in the classroom.”
– Peter Casey, UMass Lowell Director of Athletics
This sentiment was echoed by Kelleher’s former boss, Ryan Polley of Boston University. Kelleher was the offensive coordinator and helped Polley with recruiting the first classes to BU prior to taking over Manhattan.
“Drew is a young rising star in our business and what he did at Manhattan in a short period of time was very impressive, but not surprising. Drew has made significant contributions at every one of his spots and has left each program better than when he started.”
– Ryan Polley, Boston University Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach
Kelleher graduated from Vermont in 2009.
Justin Turri – St. John’s Red Storm
Justin Turri was hired in June as the next Red Storm head coach. He takes over for Jason Miller who resigned at the end of the season.
Turri will have a tall task ahead of him at St. John’s. The Red Storm have finished at or near the bottom of the Big East and have not won more than six games since 2018.
Turri comes with a strong offensive prowess as a coach. This past season he helped Josh Zawada set a program record for points, goals, and assists. He also earned high praise from his former coach and a prominent Long Islander, Duke head coach John Danowski.
“A Long Island native whose character and commitment to living an extraordinary life already well documented. Justin knows what it takes to balance academics and athletics.”
– John Danowski, Duke Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach
Turri was a two-time All-American and national champion at Duke. He has coached at Michigan, Harvard, Army, and Providence.
John Odierna – (Manhattan Jaspers)
The Jaspers wasted little time after Kelleher left for UMass Lowell in promoting associate head coach and interim John Odierna to head coach.
Odierna served on Kelleher’s staff for seven years as the defensive coordinator and goalie coach. The Jasper’s defense was stingy this season, earning a top 10 ranking in goals-against, en route to the MAAC Championship.
In addition to his on-field duties, Odierna played a big role in recruiting and alumni relations. The latter was mentioned in the press release by the Director of Athletics, Marianne Reilly.
“We want a seamless transition and to continue developing the amazing culture created over the past seven years while building alumni involvement with our program. John is well respected in the lacrosse community, and Manhattan is prepared to support his vision to elevate the program and be a MAAC championship contender each year.”
– Marianne Reilly, Manhattan Director of Athletics
Odierna is a 2011 graduate of Gettysburg College.
Not Filled – (NJIT Highlanders)
Head coach Travis Johnson resigned on May 13th. Johnson was hired in 2013 as the program’s first head coach and oversaw the Highlanders for eight seasons. NJIT struggled to find its footing under Johnson. He had an overall record of 7-97 and was 0-13 in 2022. NJIT has yet to make a hire at the time of publishing.