December 19, 2011

LM Best Women's Coach of 2011: Albany's John Battaglino

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com

Albany coach John Battaglino led the Great Danes to an undefeated regular season and Albany's first NCAA tournament win in 2011.
© Greg Wall

The Great Danes' 2011 success should warm the hearts of small schools with big ambitions. John Battaglino was abruptly promoted from assistant to head coach in August 2010 when Lindsay Hart resigned, and he went 18-1 in his first season at the helm, setting a program record for wins. The 18 victories included Albany's first America East championship, first NCAA tournament game and first NCAA tournament win.

The Great Danes were the only Division I team to go undefeated in the regular season, and their one loss came in the NCAA quarterfinals to eventual national champion Northwestern. Senior attacker Taylor Frink ranked second nationally with 2.58 assists per game, and she was the program's first Tewaaraton nominee.

Battaglino gets the nod for not only lifting a program to new heights, but also doing it with a tiny, injury-riddled roster. He inherited some considerable talent — Albany went 13-3 in 2010 — but his greatest challenge was getting his players to have confidence in what they could achieve.

"I've always been a big proponent of getting kids to make reads. I'm looking for five, six, seven kids on the scoreboard. That's a good day for us," said Battaglino, who had six players with more than 20 goals. "They're all looking to score, to pounce on lanes and opportunities. It's a lot more fun to play, and it's a lot more fun to coach, especially when they start getting it. As soon as they start to see that, it's very rewarding."

LaxMagazine.com Fan Vote

Krystin Porcella, U.S. U19 Team
33%
The John Carroll (Md.) High School coach preferred a hands-off approach to Team USA, which allowed her players to develop the confidence to adjust on the fly when they were down 6-3 against the Aussies in the title game. They rallied to win their fourth straight U19 gold medal.

Kelly Amonte Hiller, Northwestern
28%
She won her sixth NCAA championship in seven years, and she did it with a young team that held off defending national champion Maryland in a title game rematch. The Wildcats went 21-2 in 2011, with 20 wins coming against top-20 competition.

Carol Cantele, Gettysburg
21%
Cantele led her alma mater to its first NCAA women's title in any sport with a young squad that went 19-4. Gettysburg defeated defending national champion Salisbury and Cortland en route to the championship. The Bullets handled Bowdoin easily, 16-5, in the title game.

John Battaglino, Albany
16%
At one point this season, he had just four reserve players on an injury-plagued bench. Still, the Great Danes marched on to an undefeated season, America East championship and an NCAA tournament win before bowing to Northwestern in the quarterfinals.

A version of this article appears in the December issue of Lacrosse Magazine as part of LM"s "Best of Lacrosse 2011" package. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 350,000-plus members today to start your monthly subscription.


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