Lewis University Director of Athletics Dr. John Planek announced on Thursday (August 9) that Joe Perruzzi has been hired as the first men's lacrosse coach in Flyer history.
"Our intercollegiate athletic program will welcome our 23rd sport offering with the addition of men's lacrosse starting competition in the 2019-2020 season," Planek said. "I am glad to announce that Joe Perruzzi will be our inaugural head coach. His successful experience at the Division II level along with his energy level will serve us well as we begin to establish our lacrosse program at Lewis University."
Lewis Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management, Marketing and Planning Ray Kennelly was equally as excited about the new Flyer sport addition.
"The addition of men's lacrosse, will enhance student life on campus as well as provide additional opportunities for intercollegiate athletic competition," Kennelly said. "This will also help spread the Lewis name to new markets."
Perruzzi comes to Lewis after spending the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C. During his tenure with the Crusaders he helped guide them to a 38-13 record and back-to-back appearances in the Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship game. Perruzzi helped mentor 17 Conference Carolinas All-Conference selections, 10 United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) All-Americans and two USILA Scholar All-Americans.
"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to join the Flyer family at Lewis University," Perruzzi said. "I would like to thank Dr. (David) Livingston and Dr. (John) Planek for this exciting opportunity to begin the lacrosse program at Lewis University.
"From the moment I stepped on campus, I was blown away by the strength of the academics, the department's commitment to athletics and integrity of the college community. I look forward to building this program from the ground up and competing at the highest level in the GLVC."
This past season he helped lead Belmont Abbey to a school record 14 wins, the Conference of Carolina regular season and postseason championships and a Top 15 finish in both the USILA Coaches Poll (9th) and the Nike/Lax Magazine Poll. Liam Osborne was the Conference Carolinas Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Perruzzi coached six All-Conference Carolinas selections, four USILA All-Americans and two USILA Scholar All-Americans.
The Crusaders ranked second in Division II in clearing percentage (90.9 percent), fifth in man down defense (81.8 percent) and ninth in scoring defense (7.94 goals against average).
In 2017, The Abbey established a 12-5 record and advanced to the Conference Carolinas Championship game for the first time since 2010. Adam Wiedemann was chosen as the Conference Carolinas Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Perruzzi mentored six All-Conference Carolinas selections and four USILA All-Americans.
The Crusaders ranked first in Division II in clearing percentage (95.4 percent) and man down defense (82.9 percent) and were 10th in scoring defense (7.76 goals against average).
In his first season at The Abbey, the team set a then school record for wins (12) and winning percentage (.750). He coached five All-Conference Carolinas selections and helped Devin Cruz and Adam Weidemann to earn USILA All-America honors.
The Crusaders ranked 12th in the country with an 8.63 goals-against-average, while standing fifth nationally in caused turnovers (10.44 per game). Cruz led the nation individually in caused turnovers.
"I would like to thank Dr. Thierfelder, Stephen Miss and Chris Barrett for the last three seasons at Belmont Abbey College," Perruzzi stated. "In this time, I was able to grow as a person and as a coach while being surrounded by so many outstanding co-workers and student-athletes. I am unbelievably grateful for my time at Belmont Abbey College and wouldn't be where I am today without the tireless dedication and commitment of my student-athletes."
Perruzzi came to Belmont Abbey following a stint as an assistant coach at Ohio Wesleyan University. During that time, the Bishops had the best season is program history boasting an 18-1 record with an undefeated regular season and No. 3 national ranking in the USILA Division III coaches poll. Head Coach Mike Plantholt was the 2015 North Coast Athletic Conference Coach of the year and the Bishops were NCAC regular-season and tournament champions and NCAA Quarterfinalists. Perruzzi worked with the the defense, faceoff unit, goalies and ran the substitution box while coaching four USILA All-Americans and 13 All-NCAC All-Conference selections.
Prior to Ohio Wesleyan, Perruzzi was an assistant coach at Kenyon College, where he served as the Lords' defensive coordinator. Perruzzi coached two NCAC all-conference selections as the Lords advanced to the NCAC tournament.
Before joining the Kenyon staff, Perruzzi was an assistant coach at Community College of Baltimore County-Essex in Baltimore, Md. In his one season at Essex, the Knights were Region XX champions and reached the NJCAA Final Four. Perruzzi assisted with the defense, ran the substitution box and was head of strength and conditioning for the lacrosse program while coaching 3 NJCAA All-Americans and 8 Region XX all-region selections.
Perruzzi began his coaching career as the head coach of Ohio University's Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association club team. He led the Bobcats to their first winning record since joining the MCLA, as well as the first CCLA playoff berth in the program's history. He coached 12 all-conference selections, the most in one season in the program's history. While at Ohio University, Perruzzi earned his master's degree in recreation & sport sciences with a concentration in coaching education.
Perruzzi is a 2011 graduate of Belmont Abbey, where he was a three-year starter at defensive midfielder. During his time at the Abbey, Perruzzi played in two Conference Carolinas Championship games, winning the first one in program history in 2008. He graduated with a B.A. in Sports Management and was a member of the Dean's List and the President's List. Perruzzi earned his Master's Degree from Ohio University in Recreation and Sport Sciences in 2012.