The 2002 season marked a breakthrough for the women’s lacrosse team and head coach Jenny Graap ’86. Despite a heartbreaking 12-10 loss in overtime to top-ranked Georgetown in the national semifinal, the Red completed its best season ever, compiling a 16-2 record.
In just her fifth season at the helm, the former Cornell lacrosse and field hockey star brought the program to a level of prominence it had never before enjoyed. After capping off a dream season with back-to-back home victories in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament, Graap was honored by her peers in June as the IWLCA Coach of the Year. She was also named the North Coach of the Year by Inside Lacrosse Magazine. Graap is the first Cornell head coach to be so honored.
“It’s an incredible honor to be voted coach of the year, and I feel humbled and grateful all at once,” said Graap. “Though the magnitude of the award took a long time to sink in, I like to believe hard work pays off.”
The 2002 edition of the Red set school records in wins (16), consecutive wins (11), wins over ranked opponents (8), and conference wins (6). In the second round of the national tournament, the Red snapped seven-time defending champion Maryland’s 21-game NCAA tournament winning streak with a 14-4 whitewashing. Cornell also broke a personal 10-game slide against conference rival Dartmouth and twice defeated regional foe Syracuse during the season.
“The chemistry on the squad was fabulous, every woman who has been a part of the program for the past five years has contributed to getting Cornell lacrosse to this pinnacle,” commented Graap.
Graap was the responsible for the development of 2002 All-Americans Jamiee Reynolds ’02, Carrie Giancola ’02, and seniors Sarah Averson and Erica Holvek. Reynolds, Cornell’s all time leader in career goals and points, was named the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2002.
Despite the graduation of seven players from the squad, Graap will look to continue to lead the lady laxers to success in 2003.
“It’s difficult to imagine what it will be like to coach a Cornell lacrosse team without those seven women,” Graap said about her inaugural recruiting class. “Given that they all started and played each of their four years, their impact on our program was monumental.”
The lady laxers will also enter the 2003 campaign with a revamped coaching staff. Following last season’s magical run, assistant coaches Adrian Walters and Jen Johnson both resigned to pursue other careers.
“They both bring a combination of experience … energy, youth and enthusiasm,” said Graap.
Johnson was replaced by Phil Barnes, who was previously the head coach at the University of Massachusetts. Walters was replaced by Laurie Tortorelli, who was named a third team All-American goalkeeper at the University of Delaware this past year.
During his three years at UMass, Barnes led the Minutewomen to an Atlantic 10 title in 2000. That team led the nation in scoring defense. He was previously an assistant at UMass for two years and the head coach at Holy Cross for two years.
“I’m really excited to work with Phil,” said Graap. “It was really a dynamic I’ve never experienced before to have a male assistant … the men’s game has a lot to offer the women’s .”
Tortorelli just completed a stellar career at Delaware which saw her rank second in school history in career saves (754), GAA (9.35), and save percentage (.560). She also has a great deal of experience as a counselor at several elite lacrosse camps, including those at Cornell, Delaware, Penn State, and Loyola.
“I feel that the goalie position is so unique and so crucial that I’m really excited to have someone who can devote time and energy to such a specialized position,” said Graap.
Archived article by Owen Bochner