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After two seasons as an assistant coach for the Retrievers, Kelly Berger was promoted to head women’s lacrosse coach at UMBC on May 18, 2009, making her one of the youngest Division I head coaches in the nation, and the move paid immediate dividends to the UMBC women’s lacrosse program.
In her first season as a head coach, Berger, then just 25 years old, guided the Retrievers, who were picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll, to the four-team America East Championship for the first time since 2006. UMBC knocked off regular-season champion and host
The Retrievers’ win over the 19th-ranked Great Danes was their first postseason victory since 2003 while members of the Northeast Conference, and it was the program’s first win over a top-20 team since defeating No. 11 Boston U. on April 1, 2006.
UMBC finished with an 11-7 record in Berger’s inaugural campaign, the most victories for the team since 2002 and the most wins for a first-year head coach in program history.
Berger’s Retrievers were prolific on both ends of the field, ranking second in the conference in both goals per game (12.39) and goals-against average (8.85). In addition, freshman defender Jamie Fahey became the first Retriever ever to be named America East Rookie of the Year and the first UMBC freshman to be recognized on an IWLCA All-Region team.
Less than two months after leading the Retrievers to their first-ever America East championship game, Berger was rewarded with a three-year contract extension.
“I am honored that UMBC has given me the opportunity to not only do what I’ve already done but have faith that I can accomplish more in the years to come,” she said. “With their tremendous support, I believe that UMBC will be a great place to continue my career for years to come. Coming off a great first year with lots of fun and success, I feel that we can accomplish that again and more, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
“Kelly has done an outstanding job in her first year as head coach,” UMBC director of athletics Dr. Charles Brown said. “The team achieved all of its preset goals and exceeded all expectations by getting to the championship game and losing to an outstanding
Berger was a four-year starter and two-year team captain at James Madison University, where she led the Dukes in scoring in each of her last three seasons and finished her career in 2007 ranking second all-time in career goals (184) and points (262) and third in assists (78). That season, she helped lead the Dukes to a 13-5 record and the Colonial Athletic Association finals, where she scored four goals in a 15-13 loss to Hofstra.
A highly decorated midfielder, Berger is a two-time IWLCA All-American and three-time IWLCA All-South Region team member. She was named CAA Player of the Year in 2006, and she was selected to the All-CAA First Team in each of her last three seasons. Berger was also named CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2006, when she scored six goals to lead the Dukes to the league championship.
A Tewaaraton Trophy nominee in 2007, Berger was named MVP of the IWLCA North/South Senior All-Star Game, when she led the South squad to an 18-8 victory with four goals and an assist. She has also been involved with the U.S. National Team since 2005.
Berger was named James Madison team MVP in 2005 and 2006, and she earned team Rookie of the Year honors in 2004. She was also a finalist for the Greater Madison Athlete of the Year in 2007.
Berger graduated from James Madison in May 2007 with a degree in kinesiology with a concentration in sport management. A native of