Lacrosse finalizes coaching staff with fresh leadership

Media Credit: Jordyn Bailer | Assistant Photo Editor

GW Athletics Director Tanya Vogel tapped Colleen McCaffrey to head the lacrosse program in July, and she looks to carry her success from Bryant's coaching staff to the turf of the Mount Vernon Campus field.

After lacrosse enlisted a new head coach to steer the program with a track record of success under her belt, a restructured coaching staff is now complete with two new assistant coaches ahead of the spring season.

Colleen McCaffrey joined lacrosse as head coach in July after serving as assistant head coach at Bryant University, where she helped lead them through a record-setting season atop the Northeast Conference with a 12-5 record – success she hopes to bring to the Mount Vernon Campus field. She poached Olivia O’Brien from George Mason and Leah Peppleman from Division II Embry-Riddle as new assistant coaches.

The GW team set a 5-13 record last spring after former Head Coach Jenifer Ulehla exited for unknown reasons during the season.

“I’d like to thank Tanya Vogel for welcoming me into the GW Athletics family and selecting me to lead the women’s lacrosse program,” McCaffrey said in a release issued in July. “I’m looking forward to developing our student-athletes and helping them face the dynamic challenges of the game and beyond. Our players will lead on and off the field, and I can’t wait to support their journeys!”

McCaffrey carries experience in the D.C. lacrosse sphere, previously serving as assistant coach at American for four seasons. In 2013, she led the Eagles to one of their most successful seasons in program history with the team’s first-ever win over a nationally-ranked opponent.

“I am thrilled to welcome Coach McCaffrey to George Washington and believe that her experience as a coach and as a player will help lead our lacrosse program to a championship level,” Vogel said in the release. “Colleen is the right leader for this program at this critical time in its development.”

Since 2016, McCaffrey spent five seasons as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Virginia. She helped the Cavaliers set a 50-38 overall record and coached a pair of All-Americans and ACC Freshman of the Year throughout her five years.

McCaffrey began her professional lacrosse career at John Hopkins as an attacker, where she was named to the IWLCA All-Mid Atlantic First Team for two years. She currently ranks in the Blue Jays’ all-time top 10 for career goals, free-position goals and draw controls.

On the assistant coaching front, Peppelman made her mark at the DII Embry-Ridle last spring, leading the team to a program-best 13-4 record. She coached at Embry-Riddle for a total of six seasons and redefined success for the team after pushing the team to its first winning season in program history with a 10-7 finish in 2019.

“I am thrilled to welcome Leah to the GW lacrosse family,” McCaffrey said in the release. “Leah’s head coaching experience combined with her standout playing career at Lock Haven has positioned her to make an immediate impact at GW.”

Prior to Embry-Riddle, Peppleman served as assistant coach for two seasons at DIII Albright College.

“Her experience at every level of lacrosse will greatly enhance our program’s ability to develop leaders on and off the field,” McCaffrey said.

O’Brien joined the Colonials after graduating from George Mason University, where she played five seasons and started every game of the past two seasons. In her final year, O’Brien collected 35 goals, led the A-10 with 102 draw controls and was named to the 2022 VaSID University Division Women’s Lacrosse All-State Second Team at midfield.

“Olivia’s leadership qualities and competitive mindset align with the goals of our program and the development of our student-athletes,” McCaffrey said in the release.

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