DETROIT — Detroit Mercy director of athletics Robert C. Vowels Jr. has removed the interim tag and announced Monday that Chris Kolon will be the Titans’ new head coach, effective immediately.
“I am excited that Chris has accepted the offer to become our head coach of men’s lacrosse,” Vowels said. “His performance over the last two months as the interim head coach has been exemplary and I could not be more pleased that he has the opportunity to continue that progress with our program.
Before serving as the interim head coach for two months, Kolon spent the previous six seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Detroit, helping transform a start-up program that was winless in its inaugural campaign to a MAAC championship and NCAA tournament appearance just five years later.
Known for his defensive mind as the Titans’ defensive coordinator for six seasons, he helped game plan and develop a unit that finished in the top three in the nation in caused turnovers in four of the past five years, including leading the nation in caused turnovers per game in 2011 (11.63) and ’12 (10.47), while finishing tied for second in ’13 (10.0) and third in ’10 (10.47).
Under his tutelage, the Titans have the top two caused turnover leaders in NCAA history as three-time MAAC LSM of the Year Jordan Houtby is currently No. 1 in the NCAA record book with 158, while 2013 graduate and All-MAAC honoree defenseman Jamie Hebden is No. 2 at 123.
Just this past season, he had to regroup a defense that lost some key defensemen from its 2013 NCAA tournament run and put together a scheme that saw UDM allow 10 or less goals in seven games, while freshman goalie Jason Weber was the MAAC’s Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year as he topped the nation with a pair of school records finishing with 16.27 saves per game and a .642 save percentage. He made 179 total saves — tying a UDM record — and was 16th in the country and first in the MAAC with a 9.07 goals-against average.
“I have always believed in Detroit as a city and I believe in this school and the kids that choose to come here,” Kolon said. “I am looking forward in a positive direction and want to keep building a championship program.”
In MAAC play, Detroit was the top man-down unit at 67.3 percent, while ranking second in the league in caused turnovers. The defense also set a school record in allowing just 9.61 goals per game — second in the MAAC — and a number that has dramatically decreased in UDM’s six seasons, going from 16.00 in 2009 and 12.00 in ’10 to less than 10 in ’13 and ’14.
In 2013, the Titans yielded just 9.93 goals per game, second in the MAAC and 25th in the nation, as Kolon’s defense held the top-scoring team in the MAAC, Marist, to just six goals in the conference semifinals and then allowed just nine goals to No. 2 Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament — the least amount of goals ever allowed by a MAAC squad in NCAA tournament history.
Titan defenders have earned All-MAAC honors eight different times. Hebden was first-team All-MAAC in 2013 and Weber was first team in ’14.
During his time in the Motor City, Detroit has ranked among the academic leaders in the MAAC, topping the conference in All-Academic recipients the past three years.
Kolon, a former collegiate lacrosse official, has been a driving force in the growth of lacrosse in the Metro Detroit area and his coaching roots have all been in the state of Michigan. He began his coaching career at Michigan State (2000-01) and then spent the next few years as a high school coach, serving as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator at all three stops.
A 1999 Rutgers graduate in environmental policy with a minor in business economics, he lettered for four years as a defenseman for the Scarlet Knights. He would go on to earn his MBA from Detroit in 2009.
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