By Kelsey Doherty | 8/12/13 12:50 PM
Each season Major League Lacrosse recognizes one coach for an outstanding season, naming them Coach of the Year. This award is given to the coach that leads his or her team to a successful season and allows players to thrive under their guidance. Below is a look at a few of the more prominent coaches from the 2013 season, who look to be potential front-runners for the Coach of the Year Award.
Taking a moment to reflect on Jim Stagnitta, it’s easy to see that the Denver Outlaws’ success and undefeated season cannot be sole talent. There are a few teams in Major League Lacrosse that boast similar talent to the Outlaws, but it’s the Outlaws ability to pass the ball, and not rely too heavily on any one part of the field, but rather the way midfield, attack, and defense all share the responsibility for a win. Stagnitta has led this team to the best regular season in MLL history, with a perfect record of 14-0, with nine of their wins coming with at least a five point advantage.
Stagnitta has all the right tools to work with, including Jesse Schwartzman, Chris Bocklet, Jeremy Sieverts, Brendan Mundorf, and Drew Snider. However, teams with plenty of talent can lead to clashing egos, and players seeking personal stats. Stagnitta has proved this wrong though, and has developed a well-rounded team, without any one star, but rather several spectacular players. This is Stagnitta’s second season in MLL, where he holds a career record of 25-3, going 11-3 in his first season and leading Denver to the finals.
Dave Huntley came into the season with the Hamilton Nationals, making a statement. With a 5-0 start to the season, the Nationals were one of the teams to beat. They stumbled a bit in the mid-season, but have come around to post a 9-5 record, all led by Huntley. After coaching the Nats in 2009 and 10, posting a 12-14 record, he rejoined Hamilton this season and took the team straight to the playoffs with a 9-5 record.
Huntely has a team that most coaches only dream of, with Kevin Crowley, Joe, Walters, and Kevin Cunningham stringing together constant goals. He has a deep bench, but most importantly, he has coached the team to pass the ball. Huntley’s players see the holes and keep themselves open, allowing for spectacular teamwork. Over 60 percent of all goals scored by Hamilton are assisted, something no other team in the league can say. This is something that is learned and taught, it’s not natural for All-Star caliber players to want to give up the ball, but Huntley has instilled a team ethic amongst his players, something that makes him the ideal candidate for coach of the year.
This season is not Dave Cottle’s first trip to Championship Weekend, last season he became very familiar with the MLL playoffs, having led the Chesapeake Bayhawks to their fourth MLL Championship title. All this was in his first season as head coach. Now in his second season, the Bayhawks are headed back to Championship Weekend with a record of 9-5, close to last season’s 10-4, but still a winning record that is good enough for post-season play. Cottle has been a part of the Bayhawks’ organization since 2010, becoming the assistant coach in 2011 when Chesapeake went 6-6 on the season. Since being promoted to head coach, the Bayhawks have a 19-9 record in the regular season.
While faced with five losses this season, Cottle has not let that stop his team. He has lead them back out onto the field each weekend, taking on a new opponent and ensuring that each player posts goals and defends their own territory. Cottle, having worked in several positions with the Bayhawks organization, understands how to build a team and how to play them on the field, keeping a strong and impressive Kip Turner in goal, while players like Ben Rubeor and Drew Westervelt quickly became the heroes of Bayhawks’ games.
Mike Cerino has led the sophomore year Charlotte Hounds to their first Championship Weekend and as of week 13, a winning record. At 8-6 in 2013, the Hounds managed to overcome a 1-3 start to the season. While their losing record for the first month of the season is nothing to brag about, it is impressive how they have fought for three and a half months to get back on their feet and earn a winning record for the first time in club history. This is a product of Cerino’s attitude and determination. He has taken a team that went 5-9 last season, and turned it around, moving them up in the standings.
Cerino has also taken advantage of rookie talent. The Hounds are a very young team, with several players fresh out of college and new to MLL. He has built a team around this youth and allowed players like Mason Poli and Mike Sawyer to become core players. Under the leadership of Cerino, Ryan Young and Matt Danowski have also settled into key roles, taking responsibility for a team and bringing them to Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink. Looking at both individual players, and the season as a whole, Mike Cerino has certainly had a positive impact on this young and evolving team.
All four coaches will be making their way to Championship Weekend in Phillidelphia for August 24 and you can be there too. To catch all the action and see how these coaches and their teams matchup, make sure to visit www.majorleaguelacrosse.com/championship-weekend.