Virginia men’s lacrosse head coach Lars Tiffany announced the hiring of Kevin Cassese (kah-CEASE) as the Cavaliers’ associate head coach and offensive coordinator on June 20, 2023. Cassese spent the last 16 seasons as the head coach of Lehigh University, where he became the school’s all-time winningest coach and guided the Mountain Hawks to three Patriot League titles.
“Once in a while, you come across a person who transcends the norms of your profession,” Tiffany said. “How can this one person continue to overachieve? Kevin Cassese is an innovator and expert technician on the lacrosse field. He is a great leader of both his men and family.
“The time I have shared with Kevin, starting in 2004 at Stony Brook and progressing over the past two decades with countless recruiting events, phone conversations, professional development sessions, family gatherings, et cetera, has cemented for me that there is none better than Kevin for grasping the critical aspects of this human endeavor called coaching. Kevin is masterful with forging the strongest of bonds that endure. I am thrilled Kevin will be joining Kip (Turner), Logan (Greco), and myself in Charlottesville. His impact will be felt quickly and continuously.”
“There is so much to love about UVA,” Cassese said. “It starts at the top with coach Lars Tiffany and athletic director Carla Williams. I cannot thank them enough for making this opportunity a reality for me and my family.”
“Lars gave me my first job as a Division I lacrosse coach when he was a first-year head coach at Stony Brook University in 2004-05. For 20 years, he has been a mentor, confidant, and great friend. Lars is the best in the business, and it is exciting to be reunited with him in this capacity. He has built a tremendous culture within the UVA program. The quality of men I will work with is second to none. Culture, character, and a championship tradition are all synonymous with UVA lacrosse and I cannot wait to contribute to that championship tradition.”
Cassese’s 136 career victories and 56.7 win percentage as Lehigh head coach are program bests. Cassese steered the Mountain Hawks to Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles in 2012, 2013 and 2021. During his tenure at Lehigh, the Mountain Hawks reached the Patriot League championship game six times and are the only team to qualify for the Patriot League Tournament in the last 10 consecutive years.
A total of 21 Lehigh players achieved USILA All-America status under Cassese’s tutelage, including 2021 first-team faceoff specialist Mike Sisselberger, who set the NCAA Division-I single season faceoff win percentage record (79.5). Amid the Mountain Hawks’ third conference title bid, Lehigh finished in the top-10 nationally in seven statistical categories, including seventh in assists (8.58), eighth in points (22.67) and ninth in scoring offense (14.08). Cassese’s man-up offense also led the nation in 2018 and in 2012.
Prior to serving as Lehigh head coach, Cassese was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Duke, from 2005-07. In 2007, Cassese and the Blue Devils reached the NCAA Championship game, which marked the program’s second national championship appearance. He also served as Duke’s interim head coach for part of the summer of 2006. Prior to coaching at Duke, Cassese’s was an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Stony Brook in 2005, where he conducted the nation’s top man-up unit. Tiffany, Cassese and the Seawolves finished the season with a 10-6 overall record.
A National Lacrosse Hall of Fame class of 2018 inductee, Cassese enjoyed an illustrious playing career at Duke from 2000-03, where he was twice team captain and Tewaaraton Award finalist (2002-03), a three-time All-American (2001-03), and the recipient of the Lt. j.g. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Outstanding Midfielder award (2002). He was named ACC Player of the Year in 2001 and garnered All-ACC honors three times (2001-03).
After his collegiate playing career, Cassese was selected second overall by the Rochester Rattlers in the 2003 MLL draft. He went on to play professionally for seven seasons and was a two-time all-star, including in 2006 when he was the game’s MVP.
Cassese represented the United States at the World Championships on four occasions, including as an assistant coach in 2014. As a midfielder, he helped the U.S. win gold in 2002 and 2010. He served as Team USA’s captain in 2010.
Cassese graduated from Duke in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He was named a USILA Scholar All-American and named one of four ACC student-athletes conference wide to receive Weaver-James-Corrigan Honorary Award, which recognized student-athletes for outstanding athletic and academic achievement.
A native of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., Cassese and his wife Katie Granson Cassese, who played tennis at Duke, have three children, Drew, Anna and Claire.