Amanda O’Leary, an experienced coach who played the sport at its highest level, finished her ninth season at the helm of the Florida Gators in 2018 with the program’s eighth NCAA Tournament bid. O’Leary has turned her team into a national powerhouse since its inception in 2010. Hired to lead Florida’s inaugural lacrosse team on June 22, 2007, O’Leary had the opportunity to recruit and organize the program before the Gators began competition in the 2010 season. Her impressive career record of 310-101 (.754) ranks among the best of active head coaches in the nation. In nine seasons, she has taken Florida to an NCAA Final Four, five NCAA quarterfinal appearances, four BIG EAST regular season, four BIG EAST tournament titles, four American Lacrosse Conference regular season titles and two ALC tournament championships. She has also coached 17 Gators who have earned 59 All-America honors, four Tewaaraton Award finalists and two Honda Sports Award nominees.
The 2018 season was one for the record books for both O’Leary and the Florida program. She picked up her 300th career win after a 16-11 victory over Georgetown on March 24 – O’Leary is one of only five coaches in the history of DI women’s lacrosse to accomplish the feat (Navy's Cindy Timchal - 497, Princeton's Chris Sailer - 390, North Carolina's Jenny Levy - 318, and Virginia's Julie Myers – 307). The Gators went 17-4 en route to their first NCAA Quarterfinal since the 2014 season and won their fourth consecutive BIG EAST Tournament title. Florida also picked up its fourth-straight BIG EAST regular season championship after going 9-0 in conference play. The team set a program record for most goals scored with 343 and most caused turnovers (188). 2018 marked Florida’s sixth season with at least 17 wins in the nine-year history of the program. The Gators were the No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they defeated No. 15 Colorado in the Second Round to advance to the first NCAA Quarterfinal since 2014. Florida traveled to No. 5 JMU and put up a tough fight before falling 11-8 to the Dukes. Seven Florida players were named IWLCA All-Region, the most in program history and four earned All-American honors (Haley Hicklen, Sydney Pirreca, Lindsey Ronbeck and Cara Trombetta). Three Gators won BIG EAST Awards: Shannon Kavanagh (Freshman of the Year), Sydney Pirreca (Midfielder of the Year), Haley Hicklen (Goalkeeper of the Year) and O’Leary was honored with the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year.
2017 proved to be an explosive season for Florida’s offense under O’Leary’s direction. In the first year of the NCAA shot clock, the Gators scored a school-record 16.8 goals per game en route to a 17-3 overall record. UF was a perfect 9-0 in BIG EAST conference play, claiming the program’s seventh straight conference title and fifth consecutive conference tournament title. Ranked No. 2 in the IWLCA Top-20 for the final four weeks of the season, 2017 marked Florida’s fifth season of at least 17 wins in the eight-year history of the program. Florida posted a 5-2 record against ranked opponents, topping No. 3 Southern California, No. 5 Syracuse and No. 7 Stony Brook. The Gators entered the NCAA Tournament on a nine-game winning streak and with the No. 3 overall seed. UF faced a tough test in the second round, losing to Southern California, 15-12. UF saw six players earn nine All-American honors, and 10 players earn All-BIG EAST accolades. Three Gators won BIG EAST Awards: Mollie Stevens (Attacker of the Year), Caroline Fitzgerald (Defensive Player of the Year), Haley Hicklen (Goalkeeper of the Year), and O’Leary was honored with the BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year.
Florida continued its dominance under Coach O’Leary in 2016. The Gators tore through BIG EAST play, winning the regular season title for a second-straight year after earning a perfect 7-0 record. The Gators also won the BIG EAST Tournament for a second-consecutive season after defeating Temple in the championship game. During the course of the season, Florida defeated eventual national champion, and No. 2-ranked North Carolina on the road at Chapel Hill. UF also prevailed over No. 2 Syracuse in overtime at Syracuse less than two weeks later. The Orange and Blue entered the NCAA tournament with an 18-1 record, and lost a thriller to Penn State in the second round, 13-14, to finish the season 18-2. The Gators saw four players earn five All-American honors, including the Inside Lacrosse National Rookie of the Year, Lindsey Ronbeck. Florida also had seven players named to All-BIG EAST teams, and Nicole Graziano became UF’s fourth-ever Tewaaraton Award Finalist.
After five years in the ALC, the Gators found themselves in a new conference in 2015: The BIG EAST. Just as they had done in their old conference, the Gators continued their winning ways. Florida earned a tie with Georgetown for the regular season title, but blew away the competition in the BIG EAST Tournament. In the tournament, Florida’s 24-point scoring margin over the two day tournament was the best mark in BIG EAST Tournament history. O’Leary and her Gators qualified for their fifth-straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and the sixth-year coach led her team to a 15-10 win over Stanford in the first round. In the second round, Florida’s national championship aspirations were cut short by the second-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. Florida saw a conference-leading eight members be named to the All-BIG EAST teams and senior midfielder Shannon Gilroy was named BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year along with a Tewaaraton Finalist for a second-straight year.
The 2014 season proved that the Florida Gators didn’t need to rebuild, they just reloaded. After graduating a 13-member founding class in 2013, everyone expected Florida to take a step back and rebuild. The Gators returned three starters and had a roster featuring 22 underclassmen. After an eye-opening loss at No. 1 North Carolina to start the season, Florida banded together and embarked on an 18-3 season that featured a sweep of the ALC regular season and tournament titles as well as a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Gators finished the season ranked second nationally in scoring offense (15.00 goals per game), fourth in scoring margin (6.57) and fifth in points (412) and draw controls (15.14 per game). Individually, Tewaaraton finalist Shannon Gilroy led the nation with 86 goals and became the first Florida player in program history to score 100+ points in a season. O’Leary was named the ILWomen Coach of the Year for the first time in her 19-year coaching career, and the ALC Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season and third overall. Shannon Gilroy was named the ALC Midfield Player of the Year and Sammi Burgess picked up ALC Rookie of the Year honors. Gilroy was also named the ALC Tournament MVP and the Gators placed four on the All-Tournament Team.
In 2013, O’Leary guided the Gators to an 18-3 overall record and their third consecutive trip to the NCAA quarterfinals. Florida also grabbed a share of its third ALC regular season title with a 4-1 conference record. Along the way, UF posted its best start in program history as they began 2013 with a 13-0 record including taking down No. 5 North Carolina for the first time in the season opener. Florida defeated nine ranked opponents throughout the season, including a 22-4 romp of No. 4 Northwestern at Dizney Stadium on Senior Day. Florida finished in the top 10 nationally on both sides of the ball. The Florida defense proved again this season to be one of the best in the nation, finishing second in scoring defense as it allowed just 6.81 goals per game. In contrast, the Florida offense finished tied for fifth in scoring offense with 14.76 goals per game. O’Leary was named the ALC Coach of the Year for the second time in four seasons and boasted four of the five ALC Players of the Year in Kitty Cullen (offensive), Brittany Dashiell (midfield), Sam Farrell (defensive) and Mikey Meagher (goalie). In addition, she coached Florida’s second Tewaaraton Award finalist in Mikey Meagher, who also swept the Goalie of the Year honors from the IWLCA, SynapseSports.com and WomensLax.com.
O’Leary followed her sophomore success with a powerful 2012 campaign, leading the Gators to a 19-3 record, and bringing home Florida’s second-consecutive ALC regular-season title, its first-ever ALC Tournament title, and its first NCAA Final Four berth. The team was consistently ranked in the top five in both major polls throughout the year, and entered the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1 in the nation while leading the country in scoring defense and scoring margin. On March 28, 2012, the defensive-minded head coach led her team to its first-ever shutout, defeating Fresno State, 29-0, in the largest shutout in NCAA history. O’Leary followed that performance with a 20-11 home victory over Penn State on April 1, after which she became just the 12th women’s lacrosse coach in NCAA history to capture 200 career Division I wins. Her successful month continued on April 21, when the Gators knocked off the undefeated, top-ranked Northwestern Wildcats, taking down a No. 1 team for the first time and securing Florida’s second ALC title in as many seasons. The Gators did it again on May 5, defeating NU, 14-7, in the ALC Championship game to earn their first ALC Tournament title and were recognized with the unanimous No. 1 ranking in the following week’s IWLCA poll. O’Leary’s 2012 squad boasted six All-Americans with 14 honors. Under her tutelage, Mikey Meagher was named the National Goalie of the Year by multiple organizations after becoming just the third netminder in NCAA history to lead the nation in both save percentage and goals-against average. Junior Brittany Dashiell shined on both ends of the field, garnering a unanimous First Team All-America selection and being named as a finalist for both the Tewaaraton Award and the Honda Sports Award. Additionally, freshmen Shannon Gilroy and Nora Barry developed tremendously under her watchful eye. Barry’s prolific offense and strong ground game garnered her ALC Rookie of the Year, while Gilroy emerged as a true draw specialist, improving tremendously every day and becoming one of three freshmen to earn All-America honors. Florida’s successful season garnered O’Leary National Coach of the Year honors from WomensLax.com and was also named the IWLCA South Region Coach of the Year.
In just its second year of competition, the Florida lacrosse team reached as high as a No. 2 national ranking, won 14 consecutive games, accomplished an undefeated 11-0 home season, won the regular-season conference title outright, had six All-ALC honors, eight ALC weekly honors, six National Player of the Week recognitions, six All-America honors and, under O’Leary’s watchful eye, had Kitty Cullen honored as the ALC Player of the Year and nominated for the Tewaaraton Award as only a sophomore. Following the 2011 season, O’Leary was named ALC Coach of the Year and IWLCA South Region Coach of the Year. The Gators defeated seven ranked opponents in 2011, including eventual 2011 NCAA Champion, Northwestern, and 2010 national semifinalist, Syracuse. On April 14, Florida defeated then-No. 2 Northwestern, the six-time National Champions, handing the Wildcats their first ALC regular season loss in seven years.
After O’Leary reeled in the nation’s No. 1 Recruiting Class, many people around the nation were anxious to see how the Gators would stack up in their first season of Division I action. Facing a schedule ranked the 21st-toughest in the nation, Florida posted a 10-8 record in 2010, becoming just the sixth school in Division I women’s lacrosse history to earn at least 10 wins in their first season. The Gators won three games against top-20 opponents in 2010, highlighted by their first American Lacrosse Conference victory over No. 14 Penn State and a 14-3 win over No. 20 Johns Hopkins in the ALC Tournament quarterfinals. Freshmen Ashley Bruns, Brittany Dashiell and Jamie Reeg were named to the ALC Second Team under O’Leary’s tutelage in 2010.
“We believe Gator lacrosse has hit a home run with Amanda O’Leary. She knows what it takes to compete at the highest level and she has also enjoyed success as Yale's head coach. She shares our vision for a successful program and I’m confident she will be conveying that message to the lacrosse community. Gator lacrosse is in great hands with Amanda O’Leary.”
Former Athletics Director (1992-2016)
University of Florida
O’Leary came to UF from Yale, where she led the Bulldogs for 14 seasons. Yale set the school record for season wins with 14 in O’Leary’s second year (1995) and twice equaled that mark (1999 and 2003). She took Yale to two of its three NCAA Championship appearances, as the Bulldogs reached the 2003 quarterfinal round and the 2007 opening round. Yale finished among the Ivy League’s top three in 11 of her 14 years, which includes a share of the 2003 Ivy League title with Princeton and Dartmouth, as each posted identical 6-1 records in conference play. After leading Yale to a share of the Ivy League title and advancing to NCAA Championship play, O’Leary was named the 2003 Northeast Regional Coach of the Year. She also was recognized as the USWLA Regional Coach of the Year in 1996. Bulldog players have earned a total of 19 All-America honors under O’Leary.
During her playing career, O’Leary was a four-year starter for Temple’s lacrosse and field hockey teams. A two-time All-American in both sports, O’Leary led the Owl’s lacrosse team to a 19-0 record and the national championship in 1988. O’Leary was the Midfielder of the Year selection for the NCAA All-Tournament teams in 1987 and 1988 as well as the NCAA Most Valuable Player in 1988. Lacrosse Magazine also selected her as its 1988 Player of the Year. While suiting up with Temple’s field hockey team, O’Leary garnered 1986 and 1987 All-America honors and helped the Owls reach the NCAA semifinals in 1984.
In 2005, O’Leary was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. She also became a member of the Temple Owls’ Hall of Fame in the fall of 2004. O’Leary was named to the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse 25th Anniversary Team in the fall of 2006. She was the youngest player and starter on the 1989 U.S. World Cup team that claimed the International Federation of Women’s Lacrosse Association (IFWLA) gold medal in Perth, Australia. O’Leary was the second-leading scorer on the 1993 U.S. World Cup team which repeated as the IFWLA World Cup champions in Edinburgh, Scotland. In the 1993 World Cup, O’Leary scored 17 points, including the game-winner versus Australia in the semifinal game. Prior to taking the Yale head coaching position, O’Leary was an assistant at Maryland for the 1992 and 1993 seasons. The Terrapins claimed the 1992 NCAA title and reached the semifinals in 1993. It was her second stint with the Terrapins, as she started her coaching career with Maryland as a graduate assistant coach in 1989 before serving as an assistant at Delaware for the 1990 campaign. O’Leary has also served as the chair of the U.S. Team selection and on the former U.S. Women’s Lacrosse Association (USWLA) Board of Directors. She was an assistant coach with the U.S. Women’s Developmental Team from 2002-05 and has been a member of the Connecticut Lacrosse Foundation Executive Committee since 1993.
She has a daughter, Madison, and a son, Ryan, and graduated cum laude from Temple in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and kinesiology.