Joe Breschi’s coaching philosophy is summed up in three words • FAMILY • ACADEMICS • LACROSSE. Now in his eighth year as the head coach of North Carolina’s men’s lacrosse program, Breschi has installed that philosophy at every level of the program and its outreach to alumni, student-athletes, their families and the Chapel Hill community. On the field, in the classroom and in the community, North Carolina men’s lacrosse is achieving at the highest levels and the credit for that goes to Breschi, one of the sharpest minds in collegiate coaching circles.
Breschi, a 1990 Carolina alumnus and former assistant coach for the Tar Heels, became the 12th head lacrosse coach in Carolina history on June 18, 2008. Breschi came to Chapel Hill from Ohio State where he had served as the head coach for the previous 11 seasons. He hit the ground running and his first recruiting class, which enrolled in August 2010, was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Inside Lacrosse Magazine. His past four recruiting classes have been tabbed in the Top 5 nationally as his recruiting efforts have built a strong foundation for UNC’s future in the sport. Simply put, young men pursuing college lacrosse careers want to play for a man with the character of Joe Breschi. With those recruiting classes in place, Breschi and his staff know that they have put the Tar Heel program on sound footing talent wise and these young men have also achieved at high levels in the classroom while being community service leaders.
Carolina has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of his seven years as the head coach. Last year’s team won 13 games, the seventh straight year UNC reached double digits in wins. Twenty Tar Heels were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll in 2014-15. Last season was a record setting one for the Tar Heels who went 13-4, finished second in the ACC and reached the NCAA quarterfinals. Eight Tar Heels were named All-Americas the most since the 1982 team. Offensively, the Tar Heels made major progress in rewriting the Tar Heel record book led by players like Joey Sankey, Jimmy Bitter, Chad Tutton and Luke Goldstock.
The 2013 Tar Heels won the ACC regular season and tournament championships, the latter for the first time since 1996. Finishing at 13-4, UNC reached the NCAA quarterfinals and was ranked #1 in the final USILA coaches poll for the first time since 1993. Eighteen Tar Heel lacrosse players were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll, eight to the All-ACC Academic Team for men’s lacrosse (for the second time in Breschi’s tenure) and the Tar Heel program was one of three sports on campus to win an ACC Top Six For Service award from the conference. Senior attackman Marcus Holman was UNC’s first Tewaaraton Trophy finalist since 2004 and graduated as Carolina’s all-time leading scorer. Breschi also notched his second ACC Coach of the Year honor.
In 2012, Carolina advanced to the ACC Tournament championship game for only the second time since 1996. The second half of the season was a strong one for the Tar Heels and Carolina featured one of the most improved offenses in the nation. Eighteen UNC players were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll. In 2011, Carolina had the ACC Freshman of the Year for the second straight season while six UNC players were named All-America and three were tapped for All-ACC accolades. Fifteen Tar Heels were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll and Carolina placed a school record eight players on the All-ACC Academic Team.
The Tar Heels have advanced to the NCAA Tournament and achieved double-digit win totals in each of his seven years as the head coach. He iwas the first UNC coach in history to have double digit win seasons in his first six years as head coach.
In 2010, Breschi led the Tar Heels to a 13-win season, matching the fourth most wins in a season in school history, and the most wins since 1993. Carolina grabbed a share of the ACC regular-season title for the first time since 2003 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals for the second straight year. Carolina opened the season with 10 straight wins, its longest winning streak since 1991. Breschi guided his team to the national lead in extra-man offense and he saw attackmen Billy Bitter and Marcus Holman be named the ACC Player of the Year and the ACC Freshman of the Year, respectively, the first time in 14 and 12 years, respectively, that UNC won those awards. Carolina’s final poll ranking of No. 4 was its best since the 1996 campaign. Eighteen Tar Heels were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll and seven were named to the All-ACC Academic Lacrosse Team. For his efforts, Breschi was deservedly named the ACC Coach of the Year.
In his first year at Carolina in 2009, he led the Tar Heels to a 12-6 overall record and a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals. The Tar Heels won their first game in the ACC Tournament in 13 years and they fell just one goal shy of reaching their first Final Four in 16 years. Nineteen Tar Heels were named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll and 10 made the Dean’s List during the spring semester of 2009.
Breschi was an assistant coach at UNC and Brown University for seven seasons prior to his stint in Columbus with the Buckeyes and he has 25 seasons of collegiate coaching experience overall entering the 2016 campaign. Breschi has accomplished much in his life for a man a mere 47 years young.
A native of Baltimore, Md., and a 1986 alumnus of the Loyola-Blakefield School, Breschi compiled a 92-63 overall record in his 11 years at OSU along with a 34-18 regular-season Great Western Lacrosse League mark. The Buckeyes shared GWLL regular-season titles in 1999, 2003 and 2008 and won the conference championship outright in 2004. The Buckeyes had seven winning seasons in Breschi’s last eight years and made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2003, 2004 and 2008. Taking over a non-scholarship program in 1997, Breschi built the OSU program to prominence from scratch. Along the way, Ohio State had three double-figure winning seasons, going 10-3 in 1999, 12-4 in 2004 and 11-6 in 2008, when the program had its most significant wins in its history.
Immediately prior to moving to Chapel Hill, in Breschi’s 11th season at OSU, the Buckeyes enjoyed their most successful campaign. Ohio State won its first NCAA Tournament game in history by defeating No. 8-seeded Cornell 15-7 in the NCAA first round on the Big Red’s home field. The Buckeyes shared the GWLL regular-season title and reached the finals of the first-ever GWLL Tournament.
Four Buckeyes were named All-Americas in 2008, including second-team attackman Kevin Buchanan, who was also the fifth pick in the 2008 Major League Lacrosse draft. Four Buckeyes were GWLL first-team selections in 2008 and another four were second-team choices. He coached Ohio State players to 128 academic All-Big Ten honors and 217 Ohio State Scholar-Athlete awards in his 11 seasons at Columbus. Breschi was a three-time GWLL coach of the year selection in 1999, 2003 and 2004.
In his first seven seasons at Carolina, he has had players earn 40 All-America citations and 20 All-ACC awards. Attackman Billy Bitter was named a first-team All-America in 2009, Carolina’s first choice since 2005. He repeated as a first-team All-America in 2010. Ryan Flanagan earned first-team All-America accolades as well in 2010. He also was named the co-winner of the Schmeisser Memorial Cup from the USILA as the nation’s top defenseman. It was UNC’s first major USILA award winner in 14 years and its first Schmeisser Cup recipient in 19 seasons. In 2012, R.G. Keenan was the first Tar Heel midfielder to be named a first-team All-America since Jude Collins and Jason Wade in 1996. In 2013, Marcus Holman was both a first-team All-America and the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
Breschi was one of the finest lacrosse players in the history of the ACC while playing for UNC head coach Willie Scroggs from 1987-90. He was also a member of two U.S. National Teams (1994 and 1998). After graduating from Carolina in 1990, Breschi coached at his alma mater for two seasons before going to Brown University as the head assistant coach from 1993-97. Breschi was the chief assistant at UNC under Dave Klarmann in 1991 and 1992 and was part of a staff that captured ACC titles both of those seasons as well as UNC’s fourth NCAA title in 1991. The Tar Heels compiled a stellar 28-3 record during Breschi’s assistant coaching stint.
Success at North Carolina came not only as a coach for Breschi, but also as a player. He was an All-ACC selection in both 1989 and 1990 and was selected to play in the prestigious USILA North-South All-Star game in 1990. He was a first-team All-America pick on defense in 1990 and an honorable mention All-America in 1989. He was elected the sole team captain in 1990. Carolina has elected a single captain only three times since 1981 and Breschi’s senior year was one of those occurrences.
After leading the Tar Heels his senior season to the NCAA semifinals and an ACC title, Breschi was selected as UNC’s nominee for the 1990 Anthony J. McKevlin Award, given annually to the outstanding male athlete in the ACC. In 2002, Breschi was named to the prestigious ACC 50th Anniversary Men’s Lacrosse Team, honoring the Top 50 players in league history. He was a member of U.S. National Teams that played in the World Lacrosse Games in 1994 and 1998. Breschi earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Carolina in 1990.
Breschi and his wife Julie have five children, the late Michael Breschi, as well as four amazing daughters, Samantha, 14, Abigail, 12, Lucy, 10, and Emily, 9.
Joe Breschi At A Glance
• Full Name: Joseph Carl Breschi
• Birthdate: April 9, 1968 in Baltimore, Md.
• Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
• High School: Loyola-Blakefield School
• College: Graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications
• Family: Married to the former Julie Riccardelli of Roseland, N.J. Julie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Denison University in 1989 and a M.Ed. degree in counseling psychology from Springfield College in 1992.
• Children: The late Michael Robert Breschi, born September 16, 2000; Samantha Grace Breschi, born October 17, 2001; Abigail Christine Breschi, born June 5, 2003; Lucy Michaela Breschi, born September 1, 2005; Emily Valerie Breschi, born January 12, 2007.
• Parents: Bob and Tish Breschi of Baltimore, Md.
• Lacrosse Career: Two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection as a defenseman (1989 and 1990)...two-time U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-America honoree (1989 and 1990, including first-team honors in 1990)...North-South All-Star Game participant in 1990...member of the U.S. National Team which played in the World Lacrosse Games in 1994 and 1998...named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary men’s lacrosse team in 2002.
• Coaching Career: North Carolina, assistant coach (1991-92); Brown University, head assistant coach (1993-97); Ohio State, head coach (1998-2008); North Carolina, head coach (2008-present).
• Assisted under the following head coaches: Dave Klarmann (North Carolina 1991-92); Peter Lasagna (Brown 1993-97)
• Coaching Highlights: ACC coach of the year in 2010 and 2013…Great Western Lacrosse League coach of the year in 1999, 2003 and 2004...led Ohio State to the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history in 2003 and coached team to a return trip in 2004...led OSU to its first-ever NCAA Tournament win in 2008 by upsetting #8 seed Cornell in the first round on the Big Red’s home field...coached the Buckeyes to GWLL regular-season titles in 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2008...led Carolina to the NCAA quarterfinals in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2015 and NCAA bids in 2011, 2012 and 2014…mentored UNC to a share of the 2010 & 2013 ACC regular-season titles, the former being Carolina’s first title since 2003...coached the Tar Heels to their first ACC Tournament win in 13 years in 2009 and to another finals berth in 2012…led UNC to 2013 ACC Tournament championship, Carolina’s first since 1996...as an assistant he helped lead Brown to two Ivy League championships (1994 and 1995) and a trip to the NCAA Final Four (1994)...UNC claimed two ACC championships when he was an assistant coach (1991 and ‘92)...Tar Heels won NCAA title in 1991 while he was an assistant under Dave Klarmann.
• Student-Athletes: Has had 130 players named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll in his first seven years...44 Tar Heel players have made All-ACC Academic Men’s Lacrosse Team in past seven years...coached Ohio State players to 128 Academic All-Big Ten honors and 217 Ohio State scholar-athlete awards in 11 years there.
• Away from lacrosse: Enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf and long walks on the beach with Julie.