After guiding the team to within two goals of a national championship as part of a 15-win campaign, Merrimack College men’s lacrosse head coach Mike Morgan has been named the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Division II Coach of the Year, as announced Friday.
The honor is the first in Morgan’s illustrious coaching career at the national level, and adds to his long list of regional and conference accolades. Morgan has previously earned New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) Coach of the Year honors, as well as Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year recognition, as well.
“It’s obviously an incredible honor and I’d like to thank all of those who thought I was worthy of this recognition,” Morgan stated. “More importantly, this award is a reflection of the entire coaching staff and our collective efforts to identify the best student-athletes that fit within the culture of our program and to get them to perform to the best of their ability. In addition, this is also a reflection of our student-athletes for buying in and being selfless, always putting the team first and believing in the process. The last few years have been some of the most memorable in our program’s rich history; and, while it’s nice to have this recognition, it’s also time to turn the page and put all of our efforts into focusing for the 2018 season if we want to achieve our lofty goals.”
The all-time winningest coach in program history, Morgan is entering his 11th season in 2017-18 and has won no fewer than 11 games in any of those previous 10 seasons. He enters the 2018 campaign with a career coaching record of 129-37, good for a winning percentage of .777. He ranks seventh among all active coaches in Division I, II and III in career win percentage and third amongst Division II coaches. He also ranks 13th among all active Division II coaches in all-time total coaching victories.
The last three years alone have seen Merrimack reach heights never seen before in program history, with Morgan and his coaching staff breaking past one barrier that had eluded them for years — a trip to the national championship game — most recently in 2017.
In addition to tying the program record for victories in a single season for the second year in a row (15), Merrimack secured a third straight berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2017, its longest active streak of postseason appearances in program history. And after advancing to the national semifinals in each of the previous two seasons, Morgan helped lead the Warriors over that last hurdle with a pair of convincing victories over Northeast-10 Conference rivals Le Moyne and Adelphi to clinch the team’s first-ever trip the NCAA Championship Final.
There, Merrimack would play perennial power Limestone in a back-and-forth affair that saw the team carry a two-goal lead at the half. While the Warriors came up just short of the ultimate prize, they left the nearly 40,000 fans that had packed Gillette Stadium immensely satisfied knowing that Merrimack was now, more than ever, a force to be reckoned with on the national scale.
Morgan has helped produce a school-record six All-Americans in each of the last three seasons, as well as a number of major award winners from the national, regional and conference level. Tim Towler, a 2017 graduate, was named the USILA Co-Midfielder of the Year, NEILA Player of the Year and NE10 Player of the Year last spring, while rising senior James Bassett earned NEILA and NE10 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Rising sophomore Charlie Bertrand was tabbed the NE10 Rookie of the Year, and Merrimack as a team was among the most-represented schools among the all-conference, all-region and All-America compilations. Morgan, himself, earned postseason recognition in the form of his being named NEILA New England Coach of the Year prior to today’s national recognition.