Lisa Cellucci enters her 22nd season as a member of the Hawkeye coaching staff in 2021-22 and her eighth as head coach. Cellucci, a three-time All-American and member of the U.S. National Team, is the all-time saves leader at Iowa. In her 20 years at Iowa, the Hawkeyes have compiled a 251-160 record and have been consistently ranked in the NFHCA top 20. Cellucci previously worked as the recruiting coordinator, director of the Iowa Field Hockey Camp, and has primarily coached the goalkeepers and defense.
In her seven years as head coach, Cellucci has coached 12 NFHCA All-Americans, 25 NFHCA All-West Regional selections, two NFHCA West Region Players of the Year, 16 All-Big Ten selections (eight first team), one Big Ten Player of the Year, one Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, three Big Ten Offensive Players of the Year, one Big Ten Freshman of the Year, 51 Academic All-Big Ten selections, 41 NFHCA National Academic Squad honorees, 27 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, and 54 NFHCA National Academic Team honors. Cellucci earned back-to-back Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 2019 and 2021 (spring), and her and her staff have earned NFHCA Regional Coaching Staff of the Year, twice.
During the 2021 spring season, Cellucci led the Hawkeyes to their 12th NCAA Final Four in program history. She was named Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year. She mentored three NFHCA All-Americans, five NFHCA All-West Region honorees, and three All-Big Ten selections. Junior Anthe Nijziel was named Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, and junior Lokke Stribos and sophomore Esme Gibson earned All-NCAA Tournament honors. Senior forward Maddy Murphy earned her third NFHCA All-American honor, making her the eighth Hawkeye in program history to accomplish the feat. Murphy led the Hawkeyes in goals (8) and points (18), senior Ellie Holley, a NFHCA All-American, led Iowa in assists (7) and tallied three goals, and freshman Alex Wesneski notched three goals. Iowa’s defense allowed only 0.78 goals per game and tallied eight shutouts.
During the 2019 season, Cellucci led the Hawkeyes to their 13th Big Ten Regular Season Championship, sixth Big Ten Tournament title, and 17th Elite Eight appearance in program history. She was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, while her and her staff were named NFHCA West Region Coaching Staff of the Year for the second consecutive season. She mentored two NFHCA All-Americans, five NFHCA All-West Region honorees, and three All-Big Ten selections. Senior Katie Birch was named Big Ten Tournament MVP, and fellow senior Sophie Sunderland and sophomore Lokke Stribos were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team. Junior forward Maddy Murphy, a second team NFHCA All-American, led the Hawkeyes in goals (12), assists (13), and points (37), Stribos ranked second in goals (10) and total points (25), and Birch tabbed third in total points (24), tallying seven goals and 10 assists. Iowa’s defense allowed only 1.23 goals per game along with four shutouts.
In 2018, Cellucci led Iowa to its 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance in program history with a 14-7 (4-4) record. The Hawkeyes posted seven wins over top-25 opponents, including two over top-10 Penn State, to earn an at-large Sweet 16 bid against Wake Forest. Cellucci and the Hawkeyes made a Big Ten Tournament run as the sixth seed to finish second. Cellucci and her staff were named NFHCA West Region Coaching Staff of the Year. Cellucci helped mentor two NFHCA All-Americans, five NFHCA All-West regional selections and three All-Big Ten selections. Sophomore Maddy Murphy, a NFHCA third team All-American, led the team in goals (13) and points (33), junior Katie Birch, a NFHCA second team All-American, led the team in assists (10) and shots (56), and junior Sophie Sunderland, a NFHCA second team All-West Regional selection, was third on the team in goals (7), assists (5), and points (19). Cellucci was also instrumental in Iowa’s defense who allowed only 1.10 goals per game along with seven shutouts.
In 2017, Cellucci led two Hawkeyes to postseason accolades. Sophomore Katie Birch, who led the team in goals (14), points (36), and shots (68), earned three postseason honors: First Team All-Big Ten selection, NFHCA First Team All-West Regional selection, and NFHCA Third Team All-American selection. Birch registered four multi-goal games, including two hat tricks. Freshman Maddy Murphy earned Second Team All-Big Ten and NFHCA Second Team All-West honors. Murphy ranked second on the team in goals (11), points (25), and shots (34), while also scoring three-game winning goals. The Hawkeyes finished 7-11 and 3-5 in the Big Ten last season.
In 2016, Iowa finished the season with a 12-7 record and were ranked 15th in the country. Natalie Cafone earned All-American accolades for the third straight season, and was named NFHCA first team All-Region for the second straight season. Cafone was also named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and the NFHCA West Region Player of the Year for the second time. Chandler Ackers earned second team All-Big Ten and NFHCA second team All-West Region recognition for the second year in a row. Katie Birch was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was also named second team All-Big Ten and NFHCA second team All-West Region.
In 2015, Cellucci led a pair of Hawkeyes to postseason accolades. Stephanie Norlander earned All-American honors for the second straight year, and was named NFHCA first team All-Region. Norlander, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, finished the season ranked third in the Big Ten in goals scored (16) and fourth in points (26). Chandler Ackers earned the first postseason honors of her career. The junior was named second team All-Region and second-team All-Big Ten after tallying a career-high eight goals and registering six assists.
In 2014, Iowa was ranked seventh nationally and averaged more than three goals per game. Natalie Cafone and Stephanie Norlander earned NFHCA Division I All-American accolades under Cellucci’s guidance to become the 86th and 87th Hawkeyes in program history to earn national distinction. Cafone, who earned All-America honors for the second straight season, led the Big Ten in goals and points, and ranked fourth and seventh nationally, respectively. Cafone’s efforts earned her Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and NFHCA West Region Player of the Year laurels. Norlander, a second team selection, finished 13th and 19th nationally in goals and points per game, respectively.
Hawkeye goalkeepers have excelled under the mentorship of Cellucci. In 2012, Cellucci was a crucial part of the Black and Gold’s success as Iowa reached its 22nd NCAA Tournament in program history. Senior Kathleen McGraw earned first team All-Big Ten and second team All-America recognition under Cellucci’s guidance. McGraw, who was a three-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, played every minute in goal and posted five shutouts to lead Iowa to a 14-7 record and its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Her 1.58 goals against average ranked second in the Big Ten and 17th nationally. McGraw closed out her career with 336 saves, the fourth-most in school history.
In 2008, Cellucci was again a vital part of Iowa’s success. She coached senior goalkeeper Lissa Munley to eight shutouts, including matches against three nationally ranked opponents. Munley ranked first in Big Ten shutouts, second in goals against average and third in save percentage. Iowa’s goals against average ranked ninth-best in the country and helped lead Iowa to its third straight Big Ten Tournament Championship, 20th NCAA Tournament appearance, and 11th NCAA Final Four appearance.
Barb Weinberg, a 2005 graduate, became one of nation’s top goalkeepers and went on to become a member of the USA National Team from 2005-2010. Under Cellucci’s guidance Weinberg became a two-time all-American, three-time all-Big Ten selection and three time all-region pick.
As a student-athlete, Cellucci was one of the greatest goalkeepers ever to don the Black and Gold. During her four years at Iowa, she was a three-time All-American, four-time All-Big Ten selection and four-time regional All-American. As a freshman, she earned first team All-Big Ten, first team regional All-American and third team NFHCA All-American honors as she helped Iowa to a 16-4 record. Her sophomore campaign was even more impressive, when she went 18-3 and was first team All-Big Ten and a regional All-American, along with being second team NFHCA All-American.
During her senior campaign, Cellucci became Iowa’s all-time saves leader by stopping her 494th shot in a 5-3 win over Ball State. She ended her career with 592 saves.
A member of the U.S. National Team from 1999-2000, Cellucci has extensive experience with the U.S. program. She played on the 1998 U.S. Under-23 National Team and on the U.S. Under-18 National Team in 1994. Cellucci also participated in three U.S. Olympic Festivals (1993, 1994 and 1995) and won a gold medal at the 1993 Festival and a bronze medal at the 1995 Festival.
She also has extensive coaching experience with USA Field Hockey. Cellucci, who has a level 2 USA Field Hockey coaching accreditation, has been coaching in the USA High Performance program since 2003 and has served as a member of the Midwest High Performance Coaching Staff since 2005.
Before returning to Iowa as a coach, Cellucci was an assistant coach at James Madison, where she helped the Dukes to a 15-7 record and a spot in the NCAA Tournament in 1999.
Cellucci, who serves on the Board of Directors for the National Iowa Varsity Club, graduated from the University of Iowa in 1998 with a bachelor of arts degree in communication studies.