Mike Pressler took the Bulldogs to new heights in his eighth season at the helm of the Bryant University men’s lacrosse program in 2014, guiding his Black and Gold from their third-straight Northeast Conference title all the way to the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Since his arrival in Smithfield in 2006-07, Pressler has taken what was once a solid Division II program and turned it into a consistent national threat at the Division I level. Never was that more evident than in the 2014 campaign.
The Bulldogs spent 10 weeks ranked inside the national top-20 this past spring, 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 Bulldogs won a pair of 2014 NCAA tournament games in Pressler’s 17th NCAA appearance, starting with Bryant’s first-ever home contest in the play-in round with a 9-8 victory over Siena College. They would go on to top the Orange on the road less than one week later and advance into the final eight before eventually falling to No. 6 Maryland.
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, complimenting 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.
A bevy of regional and national accolades would follow, as two more Bulldogs (Dunster and Alex Zomerfeld) were drafted in the professional ranks, upping Pressler’s total draftees at Bryant to five since 2009.
Pressler has now led his Bulldogs to three-straight NEC Championships, clinching his first piece of DI hardware 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, finding a degree of success that shocked the Division I lacrosse world in 2009. Bryant faced off against such national powerhouse programs as Maryland, Virginia, Brown, Army, Penn and Loyola, earning a 10-5 overall record and recognition in both national polls throughout the inaugural campaign. Pressler's Bulldogs earned key wins over opponents such as Penn (15-11), Lehigh (14-13), Bellarmine (14-4) and Dartmouth (12-9), en route to becoming the biggest upset story of the season.
The Bulldogs followed up their inaugural DI season with another solid campaign 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 50 all-conference selections – including an impressive 26 first teamers – as well as nine major award winners (2 Player of the Year, 1 Offensive Player of the Year, 3 Defensive Player of the Year and 3 Rookie of the Year). Pressler has also seen eight of his players named All-Americans, with at least one earning the national recognition every season since transitioning to the Division I level.
Entering the 2015 season, Bryant has posted an impressive 93-47 record in eight seasons under Pressler, who boasts a career record of 322-149 in 30 seasons as a head coach with a 228-125 mark at the Division I level. Pressler ranks ninth all-time for career wins among all active coaches across all three NCAA divisions and 11th overall. He ranks fifth among active DI coaches and seventh in DI coaching history.
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 once again 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 team 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 with their two daughters, Janet and Maggie.