Odierna is Out After MAACs Upset

The Jaspers claimed the 2022 MAAC Championship with coaches Kelleher, Odierna and Sage. COURTESY/STOCKTON PHOTO

By: Kyla Guilfoil, Managing Editor

John Odierna, the former head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, said goodbye to the Jaspers just weeks after the team saw a major upset in the 2023 MAAC Championships in May. 

The team had claimed the MAAC title in 2022 and, despite being named regular season champions, the Jaspers fell to Siena at Gaelic Park in the semi-finals of the 2023 championships. 

Odierna, who helped lead the team to its first MAAC conference championship win since 2002, told the team in July that he would be heading upstate to Syracuse University to serve as assistant coach and defense coordinator. 

“I am incredibly grateful for the eight years that I spent at Manhattan College,” Odierna said in a statement from the college in July. “I want to thank all the student-athletes, staff members, and administrators who I was able to work with along the way. I will always cherish the relationships that we built.” 

Odierna first came to MC seven years ago, serving as defense coordinator and associate head coach before stepping up as official head coach in 2022. 

“When I arrived to Manhattan in 2015, our goal was to build a championship-caliber program and I believe that we were able to do that,” Odierna said in his statement.

Shortly after Odierna announced his exit, the squad’s assistant coach Doug Sage was named interim head coach for the 2023-2024 season. 

Graduate student and returning captain Kyle Gucwa told The Quadrangle the transition happened quickly. 

“We all kind of found out within, one or two days, and then all of a sudden he was gone,” Gucwa said. 

However, Gucwa told The Quadrangle that Odierna did reach out to Gucwa, the sole returning captain, and a couple of other returning upperclassmen before officially accepting his new role. 

Despite the abrupt change, Gucwa said he is happy for his former coach. 

“We’re all really happy for him and the opportunity that he has,” Gucwa said. “We all really love Coach Odierna.” 

Sage told The Quadrangle that Odierna then addressed the whole team on Friday, July 28 on his departure. By that Sunday, Sage had been announced interim head coach. 

“I think it was an easy transition because I knew the relationships and have the relationships [with the team], so administration, you know, wanted to keep things moving,” Sage said. “I think [with] me stepping in right away, it allowed us to, instead of having to pause everything and do an interview and a search and all that stuff, our program didn’t have to pause, we just kept going.” 

As a returning captain and veteran Jasper, Gucwa said he has worked to keep the team’s culture intact amidst the changes. 

“I have six great classmates and fifth-year seniors that have been here with me the whole time, and they understand what our culture is and how to keep this thing moving,” Gucwa said. “We want to make sure everyone understands nothing’s changed just because [Coach Odierna] left our culture is not going to change, how we approach practices isn’t going to change, how we carry ourselves off the field isn’t going to change.” 

Gucwa told The Quadrangle that the team is ready for a comeback this spring. He shared that the majority of the squad is returning, so they haven’t lost many key players. In addition, the returners have a fire under their bellies to find redemption after last year’s loss. 

“None of us want to feel that feeling again,” Gucwa said. “We have a lot of experience in that regard, in terms of what we need to do this year to avoid what happened last year.” 

Gucwa said the loss was especially heavy, as the squad hosted the MAAC Championships at Gaelic Park as defending champions, and had more fans present at their semifinal game against Siena than the players remember ever seeing in past years. 

“It was the most fans Manhattan Lacrosse teams have ever had,” Gucwa said. “We had a student section for the first time and it was awesome to see that, and we felt we let the school down almost.” 

              Sage said the team is ready to get back to their ambitions, using the last few seasons as motivation. 

“Last year, our standard had been set and we didn’t meet our standard and it’s a tough, tough pill to swallow because we had 10 wins last year,” Sage said. “It still stings a little bit but, that’s what fuels our fire.” 

Sage and Gucwa both emphasized that the team is already getting back on track with training this fall, and are looking towards a successful spring season.