|Title:||Smith Family Head Lacrosse Coach|
Kevin Cassese is in his fourth season as Lehigh’s head men’s lacrosse coach. Cassese’s impact in his short time has been immediate, capped off by the 2010 season when he led the Mountain Hawks to an 8-7 overall record, their best mark since 2006. That included back-to-back victories over ranked opponents to cap off the season, marking the second straight year that Lehigh recorded consecutive wins over ranked foes.
The excitement around the program has never been higher. Heading into the 2011 season, the Mountain Hawks have garnered national attention, including in the USILA Preseason Coaches poll where they received significant votes to place them just outside the top 20. Lehigh was also identified in Inside Lacrosse magazine as a program on the rise.
In his first three years at Lehigh, Cassese has mentored a total of five All-Patriot League honorees, including 2010 First-Team selection Evan Guerrero, who earned his second All-Patriot League honor and was later named a 2010 Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Scholar All-American (Lehigh’s first since 2006).
During the fall of 2009, Cassese was named to the 2010 United States Men’s National Lacrosse Team, traveling to Manchester, England in July. That marked the third time Cassese earned a spot on the National Team. Just months later, he worked with the U.S. National Team as the squad’s head coach. In October, he led Team USA to a win over Harvard. Then in January, 2011, Cassese coached Team USA to a 12-7 win over No. 7 Notre Dame in the Champion Challenge at the ESPN Wide World of Sports
In his first season as the Mountain Hawks’ leader, Cassese led a young Lehigh squad to more home wins and more overall victories than the season prior. The Brown and White also ranked in the top ten nationally in man-down defense and in the top 25 in scoring defense.
One of the most decorated student-athletes in Duke history, Cassese served as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2005-07, helping lead the Blue Devils to an appearance in the 2007 National Championship Game. He also served as Duke’s interim head coach for part of the summer of 2006.Prior to Duke, Cassese spent one season at Stony Brook as an assistant where he directed the nation’s top extra man offense and helped the Seawolves to a 10-6 record in 2004.
A two-time captain and three-time All-ACC selection while at Duke, Cassese helped lead the Blue Devils to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of ACC Championships during his collegiate career.Cassese earned All-America honors on three separate occasions, including First Team accolades in 2002 and 2003.Cassese, who scored 80 goals and handed out 38 assists in his career, was a two-time Tewaaraton Trophy finalist and garnered ACC Player of the Year honors in 2001.In 2002, Cassese was the recipient of the Lt. Donald MacLaughlin, Jr. Award as the nation’s top midfielder.
Mike Pressler, the current head coach at Bryant University, was Cassese’s head coach at Duke during his playing days and in his time as an assistant.
“If I had a son and he was half the man that Kevin Cassese is, then I would be a happy father,” said Pressler. “Kevin is the type of person that people want to be around, who they gravitate towards.He is a dynamic recruiter and one of the greatest winners in the history of our sport.”
“Kevin is responsible for holding the Duke lacrosse program together between the time that I left and Coach Danowski came in,” continued Pressler. “There are very few people that can communicate, lead and coach the way he can.When I recruited Kevin out of high school, I knew he would be a star as a student-athlete and once he played his final collegiate game, I knew he would be a star as a coach.”
An accomplished player on the international level as well, Cassese helped the United States to the gold medal at the 2002 International Lacrosse Federation World Championships. He was also a member of the United States team that placed second at the 2006 ILF World Championships in London, Ontario.
Cassese was the second overall selection in the 2003 Major League Lacrosse Draft by the Rochester Rattlers. Among his professional accomplishments are a pair of MLL Rookie of the Week honors and a spot on the 2005 All-Star team. Cassese, who was traded to the Philadelphia Barrage during the summer of 2007, helped lead his new team to the 2007 Major League Lacrosse Championship, as well as a spot in Championship Weekend in 2008. Cassese was signed by the Boston Cannons prior to the 2009 MLL season and appeared in 12 games during the regular season while helping lead them into the postseason.
A native of Port Jefferson Station, New York and graduate of Comsewogue High School, Cassese earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Duke in 2003. He garnered USILA Scholar All-America and ACC Academic Honor Roll honors as well as the ACC’s Weaver-James-Corrigan Honorary Award for outstanding athletic and academic achievement.
Cassese and his wife, the former Katie Granson, who attended nearby Freedom High School, were married in Bethlehem in December of 2006. Katie is currently a Realtor for RE/MAX Central in the Lehigh Valley.