(Posted on Frostburg's The Bottom Line here)
Frostburg State University’s new head women’s lacrosse coach, Ashley Manion, was hired in August to lead the program. After being a four-year starter at Lehigh University and graduating in 2004, Manion was hired by Binghamton University’s athletic department to become the first full-time women’s lacrosse assistant coach in the program’s three-year history. I had the chance to ask Coach Manion a few questions about her experience in Frostburg so far and on the upcoming season that begins in March.
MK: You held a variety of duties during your time at Binghamton University, including being the recruiting coordinator, helping with fundraising activities, and obviously helping with practices. How has your performance on the field and experience on the sidelines as an assistant coach helped you prepare for your first head coaching opportunity with Frostburg State?
AM: I think that my experience at Lehigh, where I had three different head coaches in four years, helped prepare me for my first year as a head coach. By seeing three different styles of coaching, I was able to really see what I liked, what I felt worked best, and what meshed best with my vision and personality as a coach. At Lehigh my junior year, we were the number one turn-around team in all of Division I, going from 4-10 in 2002 to 10-4 in 2003. During that turn-around year, I was a starter and team captain. My leadership skills grew tremendously that season because the coach asked a lot of the players and of the captains. That season showed that if you work hard at your goals and believe you can win, you tend to accomplish more than you ever set out to.
At Binghamton, the former head coach, Emily Edmonston, did a great job of mentoring me and giving me a lot of responsibilities which allowed me to grow as a coach. I worked with the goalies, training them in proper technique and trying to increase save percentages. During my third year at Binghamton, I handled a large portion of the attack side of the ball. I was designing some of the plays and calling all the plays during games. I think being recruiting coordinator just made the transition to head coach easier in terms of being able to recruit prospective student-athletes, as I had experience in all aspect of the recruiting process.
MK: How has your personal experience at Frostburg been since you were hired in August?
AM: Since I was hired here at Frostburg, I have felt nothing but welcomed in by my team and the athletic department as a whole. The team has been extremely responsive to what I have asked them to do in practice and with putting structure into our program to build it up. The athletic department, and athletic director Mr. Troy Dell, have supported me and given me added confidence with rebuilding our Bobcat women's lacrosse program.
MK: In 2006, you helped to lead Binghamton to an upset over American. What did you take from that win or any other notable wins during your coaching career?
AM: The upset against American was the number one upset in Division I in 2006. American was ranked in the 30s, I believe, and Binghamton was in the 80s. From that win I learned how important a good scouting report is on another team and that on any given day a team can raise up and win if they want it.
MK: Over the past three seasons, the women's lacrosse team at Frostburg has finished with records of 7-10, 6-11, and 5-8 respectively. What goals do you have for this season?
AM: I think the most obvious goal would be to have a winning season. I think we have an excellent chance at accomplishing this looking at our game schedule and how the team is developing in practices. We will focus on specific stats this season to track our team’s successes in more than just the win/loss column. These stats include shot percentage, ground balls, draw controls, and some of the critical stats in games that tend to be the deciding factors.
MK: Three team leaders in points and goals from last season, Carly Rihard, Elisabeth Hildebrand, and Lindsay Lamont all return this season. Besides strong performances from them, which other players do you think will step in to make an impact?
AM: I am looking for Erin Morrell to step up in goal and have some huge games for us. I think we have a strong midfield, which will be our strength this season. I will look for our two senior captains, Lindsay Lamont and Carly Rihard, to lead us on the field and in the midfield. I think all of our midfielders that will be starting will have huge contributions this year, whether or not that means in goals. They each play an integral part in accomplishing success this season. On the defensive side of the ball, two sophomores will help Erin direct the defense, and they are Davia Procida and Marissa Henderson.