LAURA BRAND SIAS
Rutgers head coach Laura Brand Sias completed her 15th year at the helm of the program in 2017. The longtime leader guided the Scarlet Knights into a new era of Rutgers lacrosse when they historically joined the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2014. With more than 100 career victories “On the Banks,” Brand Sias remains committed and determined to building a program that competes among the nation’s elite.
Brand Sias emphasizes the importance of developing her players on the field equally as much as producing quality character away from the game. Once a star for Rutgers women’s lacrosse in her own right, the former Scarlet Knight has her current squad continuing to make strides on the field and in the classroom.
Through 15 seasons as head coach, Brand Sias has mentored 37 all-region selections, as well as 38 all-conference honorees (five All-Big Ten, 33 All-BIG EAST).
Academically, the Scarlet Knights continued their storied success in the classroom. Rutgers received IWLCA Academic Squad honors for the 2017 season – the program’s 11th year in a row receiving the distinction since 2007.
This past spring, the NCAA recognized the program for its continued achievement of academic excellence. Rutgers has earned an Academic Progress Rate (APR) Public Recognition Award in each of the last five seasons dating back to the 2011-12 academic year.
Additionally, several of Brand Sias’ former players have assumed roles on coaching staffs at various programs throughout the NCAA and beyond. Recent graduates who gained coaching positions include Taylor Pennell at Bucknell, Katrina Martinelli at Wagner, Amanda Trendell at Manhattan and Megan Clements at Durham University in England as a player-coach.
2013 graduates Lily Kalata (Manhattan, University of Vermont), Annie McGinley (Liberty University), Rachel Schneeberger (Nazareth College) and Rachel Welch (King’s College) have also been named assistant coaches. Other members of Brand Sias’ coaching tree include: Eileen Ghant ‘11 at Monmouth University, Mary Moran ‘11 at Drexel University and Brittany Davis ’12 at Adelphi University (formerly at Central Connecticut State University).
Rutgers women’s lacrosse finished 8-8 in 2017, the most wins for the program since 2014. RU also picked up two league wins for the second consecutive year, as the program competed against six schools who qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2017. Two Scarlet Knights – Kristina Dunphey and Amanda Turturro – collected their 100th-career points, while Dunphey and Amanda Casten were name All-Big Ten for the second consecutive season.
RU closed 2016 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals against No. 1 Maryland, losing by a 19-9 score to the eventual conference champions. The Scarlet Knights (6-12) won three of their final four games to close the year, including a pair of overtime wins against top-20 Ohio State. The program qualified for a conference tournament semifinal for the second time in three seasons.
The historic 2015 season brought with it numerous program firsts. Rutgers gained its first Big Ten Conference win at Michigan, 7-6, on April 26 to close the regular season before hosting the University’s first Big Ten Tournament as a member of the conference from April 30 – May 3 at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Senior midfielder Lauren Sbrilli closed her career on a high note, earning her second consecutive Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-Mid Atlantic Second Team selection. The Scarlet Knights’ leading scorer became the first player in program history to earn All-Big Ten accolades.
In 2014, Rutgers wrapped up its final season in the BIG EAST Conference, earning a postseason berth for the first time since 2008. The Scarlet Knights posted a 9-9 overall record, facing off against six ranked opponents on the year.
Defender Chelsea Intrabartola and midfielder Lauren Sbrilli were named to the All-BIG EAST First Team, while attacker Megan Clements was named to the second team. Intrabartola and Sbrilli also earned a nod to the IWLCA All-Mid Atlantic Second Team.
In 2013, RU finished the slate with a 9-8 overall mark, highlighted by the team achieving its best start in school history with a 7-1 nonconference record through the first half of the season. At one point, RU ranked No. 20 in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Poll with an 8-2 record. The Scarlet Knights would suffer from key injuries to starters in the second half of the season, however. Rutgers’ defense was an integral part of the squad’s overall success, as it ranked sixth in the nation in scoring-defense, allowing just 7.76 goals per game.
Three defensive Scarlet Knight standouts were named to the IWLCA All-Mid-Atlantic regional teams following the season, as Hollie DiMuro and Lily Kalata were named to the first team and Chelsea Intrabartola was placed on the second team. The honors marked the first time since 1999 that two Scarlet Knights had been named to the IWLCA Regional All-America First Team. Kalata was also named to IWLCA All-American Third Team, becoming the first Scarlet Knight to earn All-America honors since Brooke Cantwell in 2010. She was also the 10th RU standout to be selected as an All-American and the third under Brand Sias. Also earning postseason honors was Katrina Martinelli, who was selected to the All-BIG EAST Second Team.
The 2012-13 academic year also saw four Scarlet Knights become inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma – the National College Athlete Honor Society. Chi Alpha Sigma recognizes college students who receive a varsity letter in their sport while maintaining a 3.4 or higher cumulative GPA throughout their junior and/or senior years. 13 total women’s lacrosse student-athletes are now members of the prestigious society, all of whom have been inducted under Brand Sias’ tenure.
In 2012, Rutgers rebounded from early-season adversity to quickly turn the year around. After losing three of their first four games, the Scarlet Knights ripped off six wins over their next seven games and finished the season with a chance to head to their first BIG EAST Tournament since 2008. RU finished its season with a 9-7 record, including a 4-4 mark in BIG EAST play, and had four players named to the IWLCA All-Mid-Atlantic Team, led by Ali Steinberg as a first team honoree.
Brand Sias led Rutgers to a 9-7 record in 2011, as five Scarlet Knights were named to the IWLCA All-Mid-Atlantic Team – the most selections for RU since 1985. In the classroom, Rutgers was named a IWLCA Academic Squad for the third-straight season, with Rebecca Alley and Emily Penn being selected to the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll. Brand Sias also extended her coaching tree, as former assistant Kelly Nangle was named the Central Connecticut State University head coach.
The Scarlet Knights enjoyed a standout season in 2010, as RU jumped out to a 5-0 start, the best opening to the year in program history. Rutgers ended the year 11-5 overall and ranked in the final regular season IWLCA Top-20 Poll. Rutgers had a number of individual successes, including four Scarlet Knights earning selections to the IWLCA All-Mid-Atlantic Region team, while Brooke Cantwell earned All-American honors from the IWLCA. The success extended to the classroom, as RU was named an IWLCA All-Academic Team.
The program saw another Scarlet Knight earn All-BIG EAST honors for the seventh-consecutive season under Brand Sias as Brooke Cantwell garnered second team accolades. It was Cantwell’s second all-conference selection of her career. Cantwell was also joined Emily Penn on the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) All-Regional teams. Cantwell was a first team honoree, while Penn was picked to the second team.
Continually making academic excellence a No. 1 priority, Brand Sias’ 2009 team was named to the IWLCA Division I All-Academic squad. She also saw two players named to the IWLCA All-Academic team, while a pair was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma.
Youth was served on the 2008 Rutgers women’s lacrosse team as the squad featured only one senior. But the young team was able to reach the BIG EAST Championship for the second-consecutive season before falling to then-No. 5 and eventual champion Syracuse in the first round, finishing the season 7-10. Three Scarlet Knights received postseason honors, as Cantwell was named to the All-BIG EAST First Team, while Mary Cryan and Jessica Davis were each named to the second team. Cantwell also earned a spot on the BIG EAST All-Tournament team after recording two goals and a team-high three draw controls against the Orange.
The IWLCA also recognized three Scarlet Knights, as Cantwell was named to the First Team All-Regional squad while goalkeeper Sandra Abel and Davis were each named to the second team. It marked the first time that three RU players were named to the IWLCA All-Regional teams in a season since three earned the honor in 2002.
Rutgers’ success on the field was matched with excellent academic achievement, as the team received the BIG EAST 2007-08 Team Academic Excellence Award, given to squads with the highest collective grade-point averages in each conference sport. Moreover, women’s lacrosse was one of 50 schools that earned IWLCA Academic Squad honors, given to teams that have a collective GPA of 3.0 or higher. RU also saw two of its student-athletes named to the IWLCA Division I Academic Honor Roll in Rachel Doan and Jackie Lerner. A total of 159 student-athletes were named to the honor roll.
The 2007 campaign was a banner season for the Scarlet Knights. The team posted a 12-5 regular season record, achieved a national ranking and earned a trip the BIG EAST semifinals. The 12 wins included victories over No. 11 Cornell, No. 18 Connecticut and No. 6 Notre Dame. The Scarlet Knights’ four regular-season losses were at the hands of then-No. 9 Princeton, then-No. 9 Georgetown, No. 12 Syracuse and No. 1 Northwestern. The team eventually fell to then-No. 7 Syracuse in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship.
Individually, five RU players earned All-BIG EAST honors. Katie Batiuk picked up first team honors for the second consecutive year. She also received BIG EAST’s Midfielder of the Year award in 2005 and was named to the conference’s second team in 2003. Batiuk led the team in goals (42), points (48), and shots taken (109). She was also named to the Tewaarton Trophy Watch List, an award that recognizes the top male and female varsity collegiate lacrosse player in the United States. Nina Frankoski joined Batiuk on the BIG EAST first team, while Jamie Farewell and Anne Marchitello and Jessica Davis earned spots on the conference’s second team. Marchitello was named to the BIG EAST second team for the third-consecutive year.
The team finished the season ranked No. 14, its highest ranking since a No. 11 standing during the 1999 regular season. The 12 wins tied the third-most in team history and marked the second time Brand Sias led a team to 12 victories during her tenure.
In 2005, Brand Sias saw four of her players earn BIG EAST postseason honors. Catherine Seals and Marchitello earned All-BIG EAST Second Team honors while Lyndsey Feldman and Batiuk earned All-BIG EAST First Team selections.
Batiuk was named the Midfielder of the Year after just her second season with the Scarlet Knights. Batiuk ended the season with 59 points on 47 goals and 12 assists. She scored at least one goal in 22-straight games, dating back to her freshman season. Marchitello earned her first career league honor. The midfielder led the BIG EAST in ground balls in both overall and league games, totaling 41 on the season overall and 19 during conference action. Her 14 caused turnovers during BIG EAST play were tops in the league. She totaled 26 caused turnovers throughout the season to tie for second in the BIG EAST overall.
Rutgers began the 2004 season dropping a tight 14-13 game to eventual national champion Northwestern. The Scarlet Knights then went on a three-game winning streak, but the toughness of their schedule caught up with them. Rutgers dropped an 8-6 heartbreaker to Cornell, 16-7 at Virginia Tech and 13-6 at No. 2 Georgetown. RU split its last eight games, with the highlight being a 7-6 win over No. 6 Notre Dame.
In 2003, Rutgers was among the leaders nationally in several categories, including scoring defense (sixth), scoring margin (ninth), save percentage (ninth) and caused turnovers (13th). Cristina Curiale and Lyndsey Feldman were also ranked among the national leaders. Feldman finished the 2003 season fourth in the NCAA in save percentage and 10th in goals-against average, while Curiale was 14th nationally in assists per game.
In her inaugural season at the helm of her alma mater, Brand Sias led a Scarlet Knight resurgence. Under her direction, RU posted a 12-4 record – its first winning season in four years. She guided a Rutgers team that was picked to finish sixth in the BIG EAST preseason poll to a fourth-place finish in the conference, winning three BIG EAST games for the first time in school history.
Brand Sias’s immediate success earned her BIG EAST Coach of the Year laurels after just one season, an acknowledgement of the impressive turnaround she orchestrated of a program that had posted just seven wins in each of the three previous seasons.
In her first season, Rutgers earned several impressive victories, including an upset of No. 14 Yale. The win catapulted the Scarlet Knights to a national ranking of 20th in the Brine/IWLCA Coaches Poll, a spot RU maintained for three-consecutive weeks.
Four Scarlet Knights earned BIG EAST postseason honors, including a pair of first team and second team selections. Two RU players were recognized by IWLCA/US Lacrosse on its All-Mid Atlantic Region Second Team, while another was one of just 87 student-athletes nationally to be named to the organization’s academic honor roll.
Brand Sias came to Rutgers following one season as head coach at Fairfield University (2002), where she led the Stags to a 10-7 overall record. Fairfield advanced to the 2002 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament championship match, finishing the season with a perfect 6-0 record in league play. In only one season with the Stags, Brand Sias’s high-powered offense was ranked seventh nationally with a 12.82 goals-per-game average. Defensively, Fairfield finished first in the MAAC and 11th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score an average of just 8.59 goals per game.
As a player, Brand Sias starred as a four-year letterwinner at midfield for Rutgers (1996-99), helping to lead the Scarlet Knights to their first-ever national ranking and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1999.
Following her graduation, Brand Sias remained with the program, serving as an assistant coach, where her responsibilities included working with the offense, recruiting, on-field instruction, and administrative duties.
Brand Sias continued to excel following her collegiate days as a member of the Canadian National Lacrosse Team from 1999-2004. She was a starter for the 2001 Canadian World Cup squad that placed fourth, losing to England in the bronze-medal game.
Her athletic career began at Radnor (Pa.) High School, where she played three years of lacrosse and field hockey. With the lacrosse team, Brand Sias was named the squad’s Outstanding Athlete of the Year as a sophomore, junior and senior, in addition to serving as the team captain in 1995. Also a standout field hockey player, Brand Sias was named captain her senior year and was recognized as a Senior All-Star. She was named to the all-league and all-county second teams. An all-around athlete, Brand Sias spent her winters running indoor track. She received the High School Master of Sports Award.
She also founded Brand Elite, L.L.C., where she serves as the President and CEO, running various lacrosse camps and clinics throughout the summer.
Brand Sias received a dual bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Rutgers University in 1999. She and her husband Jim Sias reside in Somerset, N.J. The two are proud parents of their daughter Kinley, born September of 2013, and their son Tobin, born December 2015.