Despite inexperience, Kent State women’s lacrosse ready for inaugural season


Kent State women’s lacrosse head coach Brianne Tierney (left) and assistant coach Amanda Glass pose for a photo. The pair said they were excited to get the inaugural season underway, even though they are trotting out an inexperienced, mostly freshman class. 

Amanda Levine

Kent State’s brand-new lacrosse team will send a predominantly freshman class against other inexperienced schools.

Team members met for the first time at a Kent State football game in November. They discussed what to expect about the program and the adjustments of playing at a collegiate level.

“I specifically remember one of the girls saying, ‘I want to surprise some people, and I want to win some games,’” coach Brianne Tierney said. “There’s nothing holding us back from doing that. That was cool for me to hear because I think that all the time. But you are never sure if these kids have that same mentality.”

Tierney and newly hired assistant coach Amanda Glass have only known each other for a short period of time, but the two have worked well together.

This is Tierney’s second time starting a new lacrosse program. Tierney began her coaching career at Monmouth University as an assistant coach and eventually worked her way to start a women’s lacrosse program at Lebanon Valley College.

Glass has eight years of coaching experience at the high school level with two state championships. Tierney said this influenced her decision on hiring her because it “indicates an ability to win.”

“She’s going to be a strong mentor for our team and a role model for our young women,” Tierney said. “(She’s) just a very good person to work with.”

Tierney and Glass look to overcome the obstacles of having a predominantly freshman team for their inaugural season. Their starting class is built up of 13 players from nine states. The players have an abundance of knowledge of the game and have shown strong leadership skills within their respective programs.

Goalie Grace Merrill of Canton took her team to two state championships, is a three-time all-district selection and has 10 career shutouts.

In one state meet, she faced future teammates Maddy Mead and Megan Kozar, whose Upper Arlington High School won the title. Kozar had 36 assists and 36 goals in her career for the Golden Bears.

Abby Jones, a midfielder from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, set her school record with 81 goals and 100 points. She has also taken her team to two state championships.

Hailee Andry, a defender from Santa Ana, California, won two championships for her high school, which was ranked No. 8 in the country.

With most of the team coming from high school, Tierney and Glass are expecting the inaugural class to step up and take on strong leadership roles. Tierney knows she is asking “25 freshmen to act like seniors.”

“You don’t really get to be a freshman,” Tierney said. “You have to come in and act like you did your senior year of high school and be that confident and poised.”

The two also plan on adding a leadership training as part of daily practices. It will aim to help their players adjust to college sports and academics.

Glass said it’s exciting “seeing these kids throw themselves into something that’s so new, and really pushing and driving to make that into fruition while they’re here.”

Women’s lacrosse is on the rise at universities across the country. Kent State is one of many schools that have announced the addition of the sport.

The addition of women’s lacrosse is a part of “The Game Plan” created by President Beverly Warren. In the past couple of years, more schools have integrated a women’s lacrosse program.

Eastern Carolina University and Butler University are entering their inaugural seasons, and the University of Akron announced that its women’s lacrosse team will begin in Spring 2020.

Glass credits the trickle-down effect and increase in collegiate programs as the reason for the rise in lacrosse.

“People are seeing their parents having played it, their kids start playing it and friends start playing it,” Glass said. “It’s just kind of become obviously more prevalent, but it’s kind of caught on like wildfire.”

Tierney and Glass’ big goals, like winning the NCAA national championship, come from the culture of starting a new program. Both coaches believe that the first step to achieving their goals is to establish a good environment both on and off the field.

“Definitely making sure that (the team is) creating a culture that we want presented of women’s lacrosse,” Glass said.

Glass and Tierney said they are eager to start the new program. Right now, they are meeting with players, watching game footage and preparing for the upcoming season.

“There’s the excitement that the first of everything is going to be the first of history for the program,” Glass said. “That’s going to be fun to see who really steps up and starts to produce.”

Kent State will play in the Atlantic Sun Conference with schools like Coastal Carolina University and Howard University. The team will also face the University of Michigan and Robert Morris University during its nonconference slate. The Flashes’ inaugural season kicks off during the 2018-19 academic year.

Amanda Levine is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected].