On Monday morning, the Drexel Dragons announced Jill Batcheller as the next head coach of their women’s lacrosse program. Batcheller will leave her post at Bryant University, where she led the Bulldogs to three Northeast Conference Championships, and, thus, three NCAA Tournament appearances in six seasons. Her 77-33 record is the best in program history.
For Drexel, this is a strong hire that should have the program on the up. Other than the NCAA Tournaments, Batcheller built an established and successful low-major program at Bryant, including a blowout victory over Albany early in the 2018 season. A .700 career winning percentage is nothing to scoff at.
She will now be tested in the CAA, which now has to be considered one of the major conferences in women’s lacrosse. James Madison won the national tournament this season, with Towson also receiving a top-8 NCAA Tournament seed.
Drexel didn’t make much of a dent into the conference picture last season (going 4-12 overall and 1-5 in the CAA) but Batcheller has turned programs around before. Bryant only had a 6-10 record in 2012 before she was hired (during her six seasons, she never won fewer than 10 games).
The hire is a homecoming for Batcheller, a native of Philadelphia, where she went to Archbishop Carroll High School and later also coached at St. Joe’s. She played collegiate lacrosse at Syracuse as a midfielder. At Bryant, she has shown a strong ability to recruit the Philadelphia and New Jersey areas, but also Long Island. Jess Demeo and Caitlin Breglia, the two best Bulldogs offensive players, both came from Long Island.
“We are thrilled to add Jill to the Dragon family,” Drexel’s Deputy Athletic Director Nick Gannon said, according to a news release. “She brings an infectious energy and passion to her coaching and has had success at every step of her lacrosse career. We had a remarkable pool of candidates interested in the position, but Jill separated herself with her professionalism and competitiveness.”
Bryant has already begun the search for their next head coach. For the time being, both major powers in the NEC — Bryant and Wagner — have vacancies. Katie Rowan left the Seahawks to take the open Albany position a week and a half ago.
It’ll be interesting to see which direction the two teams go toward now: likely either an established assistant coach or a big-name recent graduate. Bryant named assistant Maddison Lesher its interim head coach, but expect her to only hold the post until a hire is made.