July 16, 2014
Adelphi coach Rob Grella inherited a team with just 13 players and started from scratch after Joe Spallina's departure in 2011, culminating in an NCAA championship this year. (Greg Wall)
Adelphi coach Rob Grella inherited a team with just 13 players and started from scratch after Joe Spallina's departure in 2011, culminating in an NCAA championship this year. (Greg Wall)

Adelphi's Grella Resigns After Winning NCAA Title

from LaxMagazine.com staff reports

Rob Grella rebuilt the Adelphi women's lacrosse empire in three years. Now the Panthers are in a familiar position — looking to replace a championship-winning coach.

Grella, who led Adelphi to its sixth NCAA Division II championship with a 7-5 victory over Lock Haven in May, resigned Wednesday, saying he would pursue opportunities closer to his home in New Jersey.

"After careful consideration and discussion with my family, I have decided to step down as the head women's lacrosse coach at Adelphi University," Grella said in a statement released by the university. "I'd like to thank Adelphi for their support over the past three years."

Adelphi hired Grella, a laid-back Long Island native who had torn up the Panthers' record book as a player in the 1990s, after Joe Spallina left for Stony Brook in 2011. Spallina had led Adelphi to three straight NCAA titles at the time, and took with him a host of transfers who followed him to the Division I ranks.

Grella inherited a team with just 13 players and started from scratch. The Panthers had always been star-driven, but he wanted them to function more as a team. Practice structure changed. There would be no more freelancing in front of the cage or unnecessary behind-the-back shots. Some pushed back and clung to the old ways. Others, who were brought in to fill out the cobbled-together roster, didn't take practices seriously enough.

Somehow, Adelphi won 16 games that year.

"Grella will drive home to New Jersey two hours late because he was there for you when you needed to talk to him," said midfielder Meg Brown, who graduated in the spring. "Did I miss some of the old ways? Absolutely. But I thought he had the right ideas."

The Panthers had a 56-6 record during Grella's three seasons. Three of the six losses came to LIU Post, the team Adelphi beat in this year's NCAA semifinals.

A nationwide search for Grella's replacement will begin immediately, the university said. While it has been a relatively quiet offseason on the coaching carousel at the Division I level, the small college shuffle has seen coaches leave their posts at perennial Division III final four contenders Cortland (Kathy Taylor) and Trinity (Kate Livesay), as well as Division II power Le Moyne (Beth Hewitt).

Taylor left Cortland, which she led to four straight NCAA semifinals, to take over at Le Moyne, which missed the NCAA tournament for the first time in its four years as a Division II program. Hewitt left Le Moyne to become an assistant at Division I Vanderbilt. Livesay left Trinity, which she led to the 2012 NCAA title and three straight championship game appearances, to become an assistant at her alma mater Middlebury as the presumptive replacement for head coach Missy Foote, who will retire after the 2015 season.

Mark Macyk contributed to this story.


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