July 5, 2010

Coaches on the Move in Women's Lax, Too

from staff reports

Former UMass head coach Alexis Venechanos (right) will rejoin mentor Kelly Amonte Hiller in the ALC as the new head coach at Ohio State.

While the coaching carousel in Division I men's lacrosse has garnered much attention this offseason, a couple of significant women's lacrosse vacancies were filled before the holiday weekend. Penn State hired Towson's Missy Doherty and Ohio State tabbed UMass' Alexis Venechanos to replace Suzanne Isidor and Ohio State's Sue Stimmel, respectively.

Penn State lured Doherty, whom athletic director Tim Curley called "a rising star in collegiate women's lacrosse," away from Towson, where Doherty developed the Tigers into a perennial national power.

At Towson, she posted an impressive 79-46 (.632) record, including five seasons with 13 or more victories, and led it to three CAA Tournament championships (2005, 2008-09) and a share of one CAA regular season title (2008).

In 2010, Doherty guided Towson to a season of unprecedented success, as the Tigers earned an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history and received their first-ever top 10 national ranking in the IWLCA Division I poll.

Doherty, formerly Missy Holmes, previously served stints as an assistant at Princeton, Brown and Vanderbilt.

Penn State, a traditional lacrosse power, suffered from inconsistency during the Isidor era, something Doherty aims to reverse.

"I'm extremely excited to be the next head women's lacrosse coach at Penn State University," she said. "I'm looking forward to being a part of a program that is so rich in lacrosse tradition."

Ohio State brought Venechanos back to the American Lacrosse Conference, where she previously sowed her oats as an assistant under Kelly Amonte Hiller at Northwestern. She was the head coach at Massachusetts the last four years.

Venechanos inherited a UMass program in August 2006 that had not been to the NCAA tournament in over 20 years and within three seasons, took the Minutewomen back to the postseason for the first time in a quarter century. They went on to make a second-consecutive NCAA trip in 2010, punctuating a career already marked by a pair of Atlantic 10 championship tournament titles (2009, 2010), an Atlantic 10 regular-season title (2009) and three appearances in the A-10 Tournament championship game.

"Alexis did a great job in her four years as the head coach at UMass," UMass athletic director John McCutcheon said. "She has positioned us for success in the future coming off back-to-back conference championships. We wish her well at Ohio State."

Said Venechanos: "The Ohio State University has a phenomenal reputation both academically and athletically and I am honored to be named its next women's lacrosse coach. I look forward to aiding in the tradition of success for these student-athletes on and off the field and taking this next step in my professional career with the Buckeye family."

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