With five Northeast Conference titles and four NCAA tournament appearances in the last six seasons, head coach Mike Pressler has led the Bryant University men's lacrosse program to national prominence over the last decade.
Bryant won its fifth Northeast Conference title in 2017 and earned its fourth trip to the NCAA tournament with an 11-win season that included victories over a top-10 Yale squad and NEC regular-season champion Hobart - both on the road - along with Monmouth in the NCAA Opening Round. Senior Tucker James was named an honorable mention All-American by the USILA, while James and Kyle Mummau were selected in the Major League Lacrosse draft. In total, six Bulldogs were named all-NEC selections.
Pressler's Bulldogs earned top-20 recognition in 2016, following a 10-4 regular season and impressive victories over then unbeaten and No. 8/7 Harvard at home, and a stellar 11-10 overtime win at intrastate rival No. 2/3 Brown. Bryant saw nine players named All-NEC honorees, and a Tewaaraton Award Semifinalist named from its roster in senior netminder Gunnar Waldt.
Pressler saw his total of Bryant All-Americans extend to 11 after two selections in 2015 (Kevin Massa, Gunnar Waldt), as the program had garnered at least one such accolade in every season since transitioning to the Division I level prior to 2016. Pressler also saw 11 all-conference selections, including an unprecedented third-straight NEC Player of the Year recognition for Massa.
Since his arrival in Smithfield in 2006-07, Pressler has turned the Bryant program into a consistent national threat at the Division I level. Never was that more evident than in the 2014 campaign, when he guided his Black and Gold all the way to the NCAA Quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs spent 10 weeks ranked inside the national top-20 during that season, earning the program’s highest ranking ever at No. 11 on March 31, 2014. En route to a program-record 16 wins (16-5), Bryant topped four nationally ranked opponents, including a 10-9 upset victory over second-seeded and fourth-ranked Syracuse inside the Carrier Dome in the NCAA First Round. Bryant finished the year ranked No. 12 in the Warrior/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll and No. 19 in the USILA Coaches Poll.
The Black and Gold would be well rewarded for their efforts, as Pressler saw three players – NEC Player of the Year Kevin Massa, Defensive Player of the Year Gunnar Waldt and Rookie of the Year Tucker James – take home major Northeast Conference honors, complementing 10 all-league selections. Massa, Waldt and senior midfielder Colin Dunster would go on to be named USILA All-Americans, with Massa taking home the first Division I First Team All-America honor in school history.
Pressler clinched his first piece of DI hardware with Bryant in 2012 – just the program's fourth year with a full Division I slate and in just the second-ever postseason tournament sponsored by the NEC.
One of the most well-respected bench bosses in the lacrosse community, Pressler and his Bulldogs started out the DI era with a bang in 2009, finding a degree of success that shocked the lacrosse world. Bryant faced off against such national powerhouses as Maryland, Virginia, Brown, Army, Penn and Loyola in its inaugural season, earning a 10-5 overall record and recognition in both national polls. Pressler's Bulldogs earned key wins over opponents such as Penn, Lehigh, Bellarmine and Dartmouth to become the biggest Cinderella story of the season.
The Bulldogs followed up their inaugural DI campaign with another solid showing in the spring of 2010, adding two more victories to their total for a final record of 12-5 while taking on yet another challenging schedule that featured such nationally ranked schools as North Carolina and Brown.
Since the inception of NEC Lacrosse in 2010, Pressler’s teams have boasted a combined 70 all-conference selections – including an impressive 34 first teamers – as well as 11 major award winners (3 Player of the Year, 1 Offensive Player of the Year, 4 Defensive Player of the Year and 3 Rookie of the Year).
Entering the 2017 season, Bryant has posted an impressive 111-62 record (.641) in nine seasons under Pressler, who boasts a career record of 340-164 in 32 seasons as a head coach (.674) with a 246-140 mark (.637) at the Division I level. Pressler ranks seventh all-time for career wins among all active coaches across all three NCAA divisions and eighth all-time in NCAA history. His .674 career winning percentage ranks fifth among active DI coaches and 25th in DI coaching history, while his 340 wins place him fourth among all active DI coaches and fifth all-time in the DI records. In total, Pressler has made 18 NCAA tournament appearances in his career and has seen nine players drafted into the professional ranks since 2009.
Pressler has found success on every field on which he has set foot as a coach, and his efforts and contributions to lacrosse throughout his illustrious career were recognized in September 2008 when he was named head coach of the 2010 U.S. Men's National Team, a squad that would go on to win gold at the ILF World Championships in Manchester, England. Pressler served as an assistant with the national team in 2002, a unit that also captured gold in the international tournament.
The head coach at Duke University for 16 seasons before arriving in Smithfield, Pressler was named Bryant's new skipper on August 5, 2006, becoming just the second coach in program history.
In his years in Durham, N.C., Pressler compiled a 153-82 overall record, leading the Blue Devils to three ACC titles, 10 NCAA tournament berths and an appearance in the 2005 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship.
Already a three-time ACC Coach of the Year, Pressler earned the nation's top coaching honor in 2005 after directing the Blue Devils to an NCAA single-season record 17 wins, named the F. Morris Touchstone National Coach of the Year. Behind the play of three First Team All-America selections, his 2005 squad established a new NCAA record for win total turnaround and led the nation in scoring offense – averaging more than 13 goals per game – to finish the year ranked second in the national poll.
During his tenure at Duke, the men's lacrosse program posted a 100 percent graduation rate.
Pressler arrived at Duke as one of the most successful NCAA Division III lacrosse coaches in the country, serving five seasons at the helm at Ohio Wesleyan University. There, Pressler led the Battling Bishops to the NCAA finals in three-straight seasons and was named the 1987 USILA Division III Coach of the Year. He was tabbed as the North Coast Athletic Conference's Coach of the Year three times during his OWU tenure.
Pressler served as an assistant at Army under legendary coach Jack Emmer during the 1984-85 season. Before arriving at West Point, he guided VMI to a 7-4 record in his only season as head coach at the Lexington, Va., institute.
A 1982 graduate of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., Pressler was a four-year starter in both football and lacrosse. A First Team Division Kodak All-American nose tackle in football, a four-year starter in lacrosse and team captain in both as a senior, Pressler was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2001.
Pressler was also inducted into the Wilton (Conn.) High School Hall of Fame in 1998 and was inducted into the Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame in January 2010.
A native of Wilton, Conn., Pressler and his wife, Susan, live in Smithfield. They have two daughters, Janet and Maggie.