Lacrosse, a sport deeply rooted in tradition and passion, has witnessed the rise of exceptional coaches throughout its history. These individuals have not only shaped their players’ skills and strategies but also left an indelible mark on the NCAA Division 1 lacrosse landscape. This article explores the ten greatest lacrosse coaches of all time, considering factors such as wins, conference championships, national championships, prestige, and longevity. These coaching legends have led their teams to incredible success and have forever etched their names into the history books of the sport.
Top 10 Greatest NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse Coaches of All Time
10. Jim Berkman
I know we are already breaking the “Division 1” rule, but Jim Berkman’s accomplishments at Salisbury University deserve recognition despite coaching at the Division 3 level. With an astonishing 12 national championships and 19 conference championships to his name, Berkman’s ability to build up Salisbury is remarkable. His coaching acumen and sustained success establish him as one of the greatest lacrosse coaches across all divisions.
9. Lars Tiffany
Lars Tiffany’s tenure at Brown University and his current position at the University of Virginia have showcased his exceptional coaching abilities. Tiffany led Brown to its first-ever national championship appearance in 2016. He later guided Virginia to the national championship titles in 2019 and 2021. His dynamic coaching style and ability to maximize his team’s potential have earned him a place among the top Division 1 lacrosse coaches.
8. Mike Pressler
Mike Pressler’s career at Duke University is a testament to his coaching prowess. During his tenure, Pressler guided the Blue Devils to ten Final Four appearances and the national championship in 2010. Despite facing adversity in the wake of the 2006 Duke lacrosse scandal, Pressler demonstrated resilience and leadership, earning him a place among the game’s greatest coaches.
7. John Desko
Following in the footsteps of Roy Simmons Jr., John Desko continued Syracuse’s lacrosse dynasty with five national championships (2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009) during his tenure. Desko’s ability to maintain Syracuse’s winning tradition and develop talented players solidified his status as one of the top lacrosse coaches of all time.
Richie Moran’s impact on Cornell University lacrosse is immeasurable. Over his 29-year coaching career, Moran guided the Big Red to three national championships (1971, 1976, 1977) and 14 Ivy League titles. His focus on team unity, discipline, and sportsmanship set the standard for excellence in lacrosse coaching.
5. John Danowski
John Danowski has built an exceptional coaching legacy with the Duke Blue Devils. Since his arrival in 2007, Danowski has led Duke to five national championships (2010, 2013, 2014, 2022, 2023) and 12 Final Four appearances. His ability to adapt to the ever-evolving lacrosse landscape and foster a culture of success have made him one of the greatest coaches in Division 1 history.
4. Roy Simmons Jr.
Roy Simmons Jr., known as “The Chief,” led the Syracuse Orange to six national championships (1983, 1988-1990, 1993, 1995) during his 28-year coaching tenure. His coaching philosophy emphasized fast-paced, high-scoring lacrosse, and his teams consistently produced outstanding offensive talent. Simmons Jr.’s impact on the game and his contributions to Syracuse’s lacrosse legacy are unparalleled.
3. Dom Starsia
Dom Starsia boasts an impressive coaching career that spanned 42 seasons at the University of Virginia and Brown University. Under his guidance, Virginia won four national championships (1999, 2003, 2006, 2011) and made 13 Final Four appearances. Starsia’s commitment to developing well-rounded athletes and his ability to motivate his players propelled him to legendary status.
2. Dave Pietramala
Dave Pietramala’s name is synonymous with excellence in lacrosse coaching. As the head coach of the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays for 20 seasons, Pietramala guided the team to three national championships (2005, 2007, 2008) and nine Final Four appearances. His dedication to the program and relentless pursuit of success solidify his position as one of the greatest Division 1 lacrosse coaches ever.
Bill Tierney’s impact on NCAA lacrosse cannot be overstated. Coaching the Princeton Tigers for 22 seasons, Tierney amassed six national championships (1992-1994, 1996-1998), ten Final Four appearances, and 16 Ivy League titles. In addition to his legendary tenure at Princeton, Tierney has also achieved remarkable success at the University of Denver. Under his guidance, Denver secured multiple conference championships and their first-ever NCAA Division 1 national championship in 2015. Tierney’s coaching genius, adaptability, and seven total national championships solidify his position as one of the greatest NCAA Division 1 lacrosse coaches of all time.
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