Ciufo led the Skyhawks to 54 wins, an NE10 Championship and three NCAA bids. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)
Skyhawks head coach departs after four years at field hockey helm
EASTON, Mass. (January 17, 2019) – Stonehill College has accepted the resignation of field hockey head coach Susan Ciufo to accept the head coaching position at Temple University, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an NCAA Division I field hockey member of the Big East Conference. The announcement was made today by Dean O'Keefe, '94, Director of Athletics at the College.
"Stonehill sincerely appreciates everything Coach Ciufo has done for our field hockey program over the last four seasons," said O'Keefe. "While Susan's success as our head coach was certainly evident on the field, her passion for teaching and mentoring our student-athletes generated much more than wins and championships, it created an environment which allowed our student-athletes to grow and learn in preparation for life after graduation.
"Susan's departure is a loss for Stonehill and gain for Temple," O'Keefe continued. "I am sure she will have continued success in her new role, and we wish her the very best as she returns to Philadelphia."
Ciufo recently completed her fourth season at the helm of the Stonehill field hockey program, having continued the tradition of success the program has enjoyed over its 23-year history. She led the Skyhawks to a 54-27 (.667) overall record, including an impressive 36-13 (.735) in the Northeast-10 Conference, posting a second place regular season finish in 2017 with a 10-2 record overall. Stonehill reached the NE10 Tournament all four years, winning the 2015 championship with a 2-1 triumph at Assumption College, and earned three NCAA Tournament bids. The Skyhawks earned a spot in the national semifinals her first season in charge in 2015 when the team posted a 14-7 record overall, including 9-3 in the NE10.
Stonehill made program history in 2018 by earning the first No. 1 national ranking in program history when it reached the benchmark in the October 3 Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division II poll after starting the season with a 6-1 record overall, including wins over preseason No. 2 East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University and No. 5 West Chester (Pa.) University in September.
Offense was Stonehill's staple over Ciufo's four seasons, finishing first or second in the NE10 all four years and ranking in the top six nationally each year as well. The Skyhawks led Division II with 4.10 goals per game in 2017 and led the NE10 with 3.38 goals per game in 2015 to rank second nationally that year. Current senior Kacie Smith led all three levels of NCAA field hockey in scoring and goals as a junior and then led Division II in both categories her senior year.
Ciufo mentored the last four NE10 and NFHCA East Region Players of the Year, with Erika Kelly, '16 collecting the honors in 2015, before Smith became just the second three-time NE10 Player of the Year in Conference history following her senior season, to go with a trio of East Region Player of the Year accolades. Kelly and Smith also garnered the first two Longstreth/NFHCA Division II Player of the Year honors in program history under Ciufo's watch, with Kelly earning the award as a senior in 2015, before Smith collected the accolades as a junior in 2017, when she set an NCAA II record with 41 goals, to go with an NE10 record 99 points and leading the NE10 with her school-record 17 assists.
Stonehill field hockey student-athletes have earned ten All-America honors under Ciufo, including Smith and Kelly as the lone three-time first team selections in program history. Stonehill has collected 15 All-NE10 honors over Ciufo's four seasons, including five in 2018. Six Stonehill freshmen have also earned NE10 All-Rookie status as she continued to replenish the program's talent through her recruiting efforts.
Stonehill field hockey student-athletes performed in the classroom, with five earning NE10 Academic All-Conference honors over her first three years at the helm, including two-time honoree Sarah Morse, '17 who earned CoSIDA Academic All-America At Large third team honors in 2016 after collecting Academic All-District accolades.
"I would like to thank President, Fr. John Denning, (Vice President for Student Affairs) Pauline Dobrowski, (Senior Associate Director of Athletics) Cindy MacDonald and Dean O'Keefe for all the support that has been given to me and the field hockey program in the last four years and beyond," said Ciufo. "It's hard to put into words how grateful I am for my time at Stonehill. A special thank you to my staff, alumni, parents and the amazing young women that make our Stonehill field hockey family. The relationships made here are something I will cherish forever. This program is very special and I am confident that the values we have built our culture on will stay in place. The Stonehill community is a true family and I am fortunate to have been a part of it."
Ciufo, a 2011 graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia, came to Stonehill following two seasons as assistant coach at her alma mater under long-time head coach Denise Zelenak. Ciufo worked with both the forwards and goalkeepers, and the Dragons posted a 23-15 (.605) overall record in her two seasons as an assistant coach, including a 6-6 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association, with wins over nationally-ranked University of Iowa in 2013 and Temple in 2014. Prior to returning as an assistant coach with her alma mater, Ciufo served two seasons at Lehigh University as the Mountain Hawks recruiting coordinator and offensive specialist, serving as interim head coach over the latter part of the 2012 season.
A search for Ciufo's replacement will commence immediately.
Stonehill wrapped up its 2018 season with a 13-7 record overall, including 8-5 in the NE10, making its NE10 record matching 20th appearance in the Conference Tournament and reaching the semifinal round. The Skyhawks are ranked eighth in the final Penn Monto/NFHCA Division II poll.
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