Steve Axtell enters his eighth season as Cortland’s men’s soccer head coach in 2019 with an overall record of 100-35-8 (.727).
Axtell has led the Red Dragons to four NCAA Division III tournaments over the past five seasons, including three trips to the "Sweet 16" during that stretch.
In 2016, he led the Red Dragons to a 19-3 record and both the SUNYAC tournament and regular-season titles. The team set a school record for victories and shutouts (14) and advanced to the NCAA "Sweet 16." Axtell earned both SUNYAC and ECAC North Coach of the Year honors, and he and his assistants were tabbed as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) East Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
Cortland also reached the NCAA "Sweet 16" in both 2014 and 2018. The 2018 squad went 17-3-3, won the SUNYAC regular-season title and finished second in the conference playoffs. The 2014 team was 16-5-1 and placed second in both the SUNYAC regular season and postseason. In 2017, Cortland went 16-4, won the SUNYAC regular-season crown and advanced to the NCAA second round.
Axtell also guided his 2015 team to a 12-5-2 mark, and his 2013 squad went 11-7-1 and was the SUNYAC tournament runner-up. Cortland finished 9-8-1 in his inaugural season as head coach in 2012.
Axtell was named the head coach in June 2012 after serving as interim head coach for five months and as an assistant coach for the Red Dragons in 2010 and 2011. He also was a volunteer student assistant coach during the 2007 season.
A goalkeeper for the Red Dragons for three seasons (2006, 2008-09), Axtell earned All-SUNYAC honors in 2008 and appeared in 39 career games with nine shutouts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 2008 and obtained a master’s degree in exercise science in 2014.
A native of Franklin, N.Y., Axtell holds a Premier Diploma and an Advanced National Goalkeeping Diploma from the NSCAA with Distinguished Pass. He was appointed to the NSCAA National Staff, which makes him both a National Staff member as well as Associate National Goalkeeping Staff for the NSCAA. He teaches NSCAA coaching courses throughout the Northeast and directs the Goalkeeper College ID Camps at the University of Connecticut during the summer.
Axtell also is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and has received a conditioning for soccer diploma from the International Coaches Association. He is the founder and director of the OnePlus Soccer Academy in Ithaca, N.Y., which features teams ranging from U8 to U18, residential camps and clinics. The Academy does the training for various soccer clubs in the area, has a goalkeeping academy and conducts coaching education clinics throughout the year. Part of the organization is a non-profit club that holds grassroots programs for young players at no cost throughout New York state.
Besides assisting with both the men’s and women’s soccer programs at Cortland, Axtell has served as the head coach of the Central Region scholastic soccer team at the Empire State Games. He has acted as director of soccer at Camp Winadu in Mass. for two years and Ithaca MicroSoccer for one year. In April 2013, Axtell was named to the ODP Region-1 Staff as its goalkeeper coach.
Axtell and his wife, Heidi, the Cortland women’s soccer coach, currently reside in Tully with their daughter Allie and Heidi's daughters Mari and Kenzie.
Heidi Axtell enters her 16th season as the head coach of the Cortland women’s soccer program in 2019. She has posted a career record of 150-103-38 and is second all-time in wins at Cortland.
Axtell led the Red Dragons to NCAA Division III tournament "Elite 8" and an 14-6-3 overall record in 2011. That season was Cortland's best campaign since the program won 1992 NCAA Division III title. Cortland tied for fifth nationally and won the SUNYAC regular-season-title for the first time since the conference went to one division in 1995. In 2012, her squad won the SUNYAC tournament crown, advanced to the NCAA Division III "Sweet 16" and finished 12-5-6.
In all, Axtell's teams have reached double-figure wins nine times, most recently in 2018 with an 11-5-2 mark and a second-place SUNYAC tournament finish and in 2017 with a 10-5-3 mark and a tie for third in the SUNYAC tournament. The Red Dragons were 12-5-3 in 2009, 11-6-3 in 2010, 12-6-2 in 2007, 12-9 in 2005 and 10-8-1 in 2006, in addition to the seasons mentioned above. Cortland has finished as SUNYAC tournament runner-up seven times under Axtell's guidance. She was named SUNYAC Coach of the Year in 2007.
Axtell's players have earned 67 All-SUNYAC honors, including one Player of the Year and two Rookie of the Year designations, along with 18 all-region, seven All-ECAC and three All-NYSWCAA awards.
Axtell is a 2002 graduate of Nazareth College, where (as Heidi Brown) she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and was a starting center defender for the nationally ranked women’s soccer program. As a senior, she was named a second team All-American and the Empire 8 Player of the Year. A 2010 Nazareth Sports Hall of Fame inductee, she was a two-time all-region and three-time all-state and all-conference selection. She earned her master’s degree in sports science from the United States Sports Academy in the summer of 2005. She served as an assistant coach for the Red Dragons for one season prior to becoming head coach.
Formerly Heidi Woodcock during her Cortland coaching tenure prior to 2016, Axtell and her husband Steve, the Cortland men’s soccer coach, live in Tully with their daughter, Allie, and Heidi's two daughters, Mari and Kenzie.
Kelsey Van Alstyne was named the women's lacrosse head coach at SUNY Cortland in August 2021.
Van Alstyne previously served as head coach at Division II Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania for four seasons from 2018-21. The winningest coach in program history, she guided The Rock to a combined 27-24 record, including a program-best 13-5 mark and a berth into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) tournament in 2018 for the school’s second playoff showing in nearly 30 years.
Van Alstyne coached nine All-PSAC players, including the 2018 conference Player of the Year, along with six all-region and one All-America honoree. Her 2021 squad boasted a cumulative 3.53 grade point average. Under her guidance, Slippery Rock finished 2018 leading the nation in ground balls per game (29.06) while also ranking third in caused turnovers per game (14.78), third in save percentage (.535), 11th in goals allowed per game (8.78) and 22nd in win percentage (.722).
Prior to her tenure at Slippery Rock, Van Alstyne was the head coach at Morrisville State three years from 2015-17. She led the Mustangs to North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) titles and NCAA playoff appearances in 2015 and 2017, while never posted a losing record. She was selected as the 2017 NEAC Co-Coach of the Year and she coached 20 All-NEAC selections, including the 2015 Player and Rookie of the Year and the 2016 and 2017 Defensive Player of the Year.
A native of Burnt Hills, N.Y., Van Alstyne also served as interim head coach at Buffalo State in 2014 after being an assistant coach the previous year. She led the Bengals to an 8-7 record, including a win over 16th-ranked Brockport as part of a schedule that featured six national top-20 teams. Van Alstyne also served as an assistant coach for one season at Ithaca College and one year as a strength and conditioning intern at Cornell University. During her season at Ithaca, the Bombers finished 7-0 in league play and the coaching staff was named the Empire 8 Women’s Lacrosse Staff of the Year.
Van Alstyne, whose maiden name is Kelsey Schwan, graduated from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania in 2011 with a degree in exercise science and earned a master’s degree in sport management from Cortland in 2014. Her collegiate athletic career began at West Chester University, where she played volleyball for one season and earned PSAC Scholar-Athlete honors. She transferred to Bloomsburg following her freshman year and played three years of lacrosse for the Huskies, serving two seasons as captain and earning Scholar-Athlete honors in each of those years.
In addition to her collegiate coaching experience, Van Alstyne also has coached USA teams in International competition in Australia, Germany and the U.K. for the last three years and has worked at various camps, including the Nike Cup.
Van Alstyne and her husband, Chris, have a one-year-old daughter, Adelynn. Chris, who is currently an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Cornell University, is a 2013 Cortland graduate and was a member of the Red Dragon football team during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In addition, Van Alstyne's uncle, Pete Schwan, was a wide receiver for the Red Dragons from 1978-81 and her brother, Ian, was a tight end on the team in 2010.
Emily Bitka joined the Cortland staff as an assistant coach in August 2021.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Bitka spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. During her time at Stevens the Ducks reached the 2019 Empire 8 title game and the 2021 MAC Freedom championship game, and they featured 2020 Inside Lacrosse National Player of the Year and three-time All-American Kyra Bednarski. Bitka also served as a member of the Stevens Athletic Department Reorganization and Student Engagement Committee and the Stevens Prospective Student Athlete Committee, and she was a Stevens Diversity, Equity and Inclusion facilitator.
Bitka played two seasons at Division II Slippery Rock University in 2017 and 2018, the latter under current Cortland head coach Kelsey Van Alstyne. A two-year team captain, Bitka earned second team All-America and first team all-region honors and was the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Player of the Year as a goalie in 2018. She was a two-time all-league honoree, and she was chosen as the MVP of the 2018 IWLCA Division II North-South Senior All-Star game. Bitka finished her career at Slippery Rock as the career leader in ground balls, save percentage (.537), goals against average (7.95) and goalie wins (25) while ranking third in career saves (307). Bitka began her collegiate playing career at the University at Albany, where she played two seasons for the Division I Great Danes.
As a scholastic athlete at Amherst Central, Bitka lettered four years in both lacrosse and soccer and one year in ice hockey. She earned All-Western New York, All-Metro Team One and all-league honors, was a 2014 All-American, and helped the lacrosse team win three Section 6 titles.
Bitka's father, Terry, is a 1986 Cortland alumnus and is the long-time football associate head coach at Buffalo State. Her brother, Ryan, is currently a member of the Cortland football squad.
Jaclyn Lawrence was appointed Assistant Director of Athletics for Events, Marketing and Development at SUNY Cortland in June 2015 after serving as Cortland's interim Assistant AD for Internal Operations during the 2014-15 school year.
Lawrence earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Cortland in 2012 and a master’s degree in sport management in 2014. She worked during the 2013-14 school year as an athletic operations intern at Cornell University, where she managed home competitions and scheduled facilities, event staff and officials. In addition, she served as a volunteer assistant coach with Cortland’s women’s volleyball team in 2013-14 and completed an independent work study position in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) office in the spring of 2013.
From 2008-11, Lawrence was a member of Cortland’s volleyball squad that posted a combined 131-33 record and won two SUNYAC titles. As a captain in her senior year she led the Red Dragons in digs as the team advanced to the NCAA Div. III quarterfinals.
The Marilla, N.Y., native was a modified boys’ volleyball coach in the Eden (N.Y.) School District in the fall of 2012 and an assistant varsity girls’ lacrosse coach in the Lancaster (N.Y.) School District in the spring of 2012.