By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/23/12
Danielle McCaffrey Hannigan, who guided Merion Mercy to five Athletic Association of Catholic Academies (AACA) girls’ lacrosse championships in eight years at the helm, has resigned for family reasons.
Hannigan is due to deliver a baby late next month. Hannigan will be replaced by John Geary, a the former assistant at Agnes Irwin.
Hannigan’s Bears went 14-5 last year and claimed a 13-10 victory over Villa Maria Academy in the AACA title game, their third straight league crown. Merion Mercy later advanced to the second round of the District 1 tourney where they were knocked out by eventual state champion Garnet Valley.
Hannigan posted an eight-year record of 120-35.
“I have been very lucky with how far Merion has come in the realm of lacrosse,” she said. “I feel extra lucky that I have had so many wonderful players to coach and those players taught me so much over the years.
“Starting back with Taylor Marie Fleming (played at Duke), the program grew to such a different level than from my first three years of coaching. When I first started coaching, girls were only playing lacrosse because there was nothing else to do in the spring, but now we have true lacrosse players and we have built a program.
“I was lucky enough to coach some of the best in the sport in the area, even if they chose not to continue to play in college. With the likes of Fleming, Chloe Keating (Harvard field hockey), Emily Corzel (Hofstra), Margaret Corzel (North carolina) and Emily Corcoran, the team was destined to do some great things. I still am in awe of the first championship game we won, when we defeated Mt. St. Joseph (in 2005). After that, the rivalry of us and Villa Maria got stronger with every passing year. I was lucky enough to have great support from our players and parents which helped make coaching a lot easier.”
McCaffrey Hannigan said the program was successful because of the girls’ commitment to the sport
“I feel the girls were so successful because we had fun,” she said. “When I took over the program losing was a common thing. Winning three games a season was a milestone, but then, when that turn came, that was when the girls realized they were becoming a part of something special.
“Lacrosse was no longer just something to do in the spring, to the girls it meant much more to them and to me too. I feel like the lacrosse team became a small family. During the season, I would sometimes see the girls more than their own families. Teaching at Merion made it seem like I would spend about 12 hours a day sometimes with the girls.
“Presently, the girls that are on the team want to be on the team. They work hard all year long to be a better lacrosse player and that I think is what really contributes to their success.”