(Courtesy of mercerbears.com)
MACON, Ga. – Samantha Eustace has been named the next Mercer women's lacrosse head coach in an announcement made by Director of Athletics Jim Cole on Wednesday afternoon.
"I am proud to announce the hiring of Samantha Eustace to lead our women's lacrosse program," Cole said. "Samantha comes from a nationally recognized program and rose to the top of our search list because of her reputation as an outstanding coach and more importantly as a person of high character."
Eustace (pronounced YOO-stuss) comes to Mercer from James Madison University, where she spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach while working primarily as a defensive coach, goalie coach and draw specialist. She also served as the recruiting coordinator, academic liaison and video coordinator.
"It is an honor to be named the Head Women's Lacrosse Coach at Mercer University," said Eustace. "Mercer has a strong academic and athletic tradition. I would like to thank President Underwood, Director of Athletics Jim Cole and Deputy AD for Academic Affairs/SWA Sybil Blalock for this incredible opportunity to become a Mercer Bear. I am excited to help build this young program and lead and mentor my student-athletes on the field, in the classroom and in the community. I would also like to thank Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe and my JMU family for all of their guidance and support."
She helped lead the Dukes to the 2015 Colonial Athletic Association Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament before finishing the season with a 15-5 record. James Madison was ranked in the top 20 for a majority of the season and recorded wins over No. 9 Penn State and No. 14 Loyola. The Dukes finished the season ranked No. 14 nationally.
Eustace was also responsible for the development of four all-conference performers, four IWLCA All-Region selections and three regional All-Americans. Additionally, she has had three players invited to the U.S. National Team tryouts, one of whom, Stephanie Finley, was named to the 2014-15 national team while also signing with Team STX.
Prior to her time at JMU, Eustace was at Flint Hill School, where she coached lacrosse from 2009-12. Eustace led the lacrosse program to a program-best fourth-place finish in the state and third-place finish in the Independent School League's AA division.
She also gained experience as an assistant coach at St. Stephens & St. Agnes School, where she coached both lacrosse and field hockey, as well as served as the athletic director. Eustace helped to lead the team to three consecutive top-five rankings in the nation, including a No. 1 ranking in 2007. While at St. Stephens & St. Agnes, she also coached two Under-19 World Cup players, 16 All-Americans and nine Academic All-Americans.
Eustace has previously coached with several of the nation's top club teams, including Capital Blue and Mass Elite. She also has been involved with the U.S. Lacrosse Women's Division National Tournament as both a head coach and selector.
Eustace was a member of the women's lacrosse team at the University of Massachusetts, where she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1994.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT MERCER'S SAMANTHA EUSTACE
"Samantha is a hard-working, caring, passionate leader and will be a great fit at the helm for Mercer lacrosse. She will bring new energy to a program that is eager to make its mark. Her commitment to developing character and ability was instrumental in bringing a championship back to JMU and I look forward for her to do the same at Mercer."
Women's Lacrosse Head Coach
James Madison Univeristy
"Samantha is a fantastic hire for Mercer. She has the energy, work ethic and passion for the game required to elevate the Mercer lacrosse program into a conference contender. Samantha has a wealth of experience so she understands how to develop talent and what it takes to win. She will be fully committed to providing her players with an exceptional student-athlete experience. An excellent coach and role model, Samantha will be a valuable addition to the athletic department and the University community. It will be exciting to watch Samantha build Mercer lacrosse into a winner."
Women's Lacrosse Head Coach
"Samantha will bring a passion for coaching and mentoring young women to the Mercer program. She is an outstanding recruiter, a tremendous educator-coach and has the commitment to take Mercer to the next level."
Girls Lacrosse Head Coach
St. Stephens & St. Agnes School
"Samantha Eustace truly pours her heart into the program she is with, and I am so excited to see what she does with the program at Mercer. With her vast experience and time spent in the world of lacrosse, the Mercer family is so lucky to have her!"
Former Assistant Coach
James Madison University
"The Mercer Bears lacrosse program just got a whole lot better today. While we are truly sad to see Coach Eustace go, she will be a terrific addition to the Mercer Athletic Department. Samantha is a true professional who was terrific on the field but even better off the field. She believed in developing the whole student athlete and was an excellent mentor, teacher and listener. We wish her nothing but the best. Go Bears."