Gina Thomas (Oliver)
All-American and two-time World Champion Gina Oliver is heading into her 11th season as the head coach at the University of Cincinnati in 2023.
Thomas in May 2021 was elected as vice president of the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Association (IWLCA), which includes a three-year service term. She has mentored 16 All-Conference selections over her Bearcat tenure, including seven in 2019 and four in 2021. The former season saw her and assistants Shannon Witzel and Caitlin Prince named the AAC's Coaching Staff of the Year. Prior to the 2019 campaign, CIncinnati had just five conference postseason honors, all since 2015.
The 2023 season saw a breakthrough for the Bearcats, improving their win total by four from the previous season. Their 11 regular-season wins matched the program record from 2019 as well. Camryn Callaghan was named the AAC Freshman of the Year, UC's second since 2019, and Dani Mlkvy and Ava Goeller joined her on the AAC's First Team. Callaghan's 56 goals helped her to a USA U20 Team tryout as well. Cincinnati also earned a road overtime win at Louisville, its first-ever over the Cardinals or an ACC foe, while defeating Vanderbilt, 19-6, for its largest-ever margin of victory against the Commodores.
In 2022, the Bearcats claimed their eighth team IWLCA Academic Award out of Thomas' 10 years at the helm, while Kylie Nause was named the AAC's Lacrosse Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Nause, en route to also earning First-Team All-AAC honors, broke the single-season school records for goals (63) and hat tricks (15). Dani Mlkvy's prowess at midfield also earned her First-Team honors, while sophomore transfer attacker Ava Goeller made the Second Team.
The Bearcats also had four All-AAC members in 2021 (Alyssa Adams, Monica Borzillo, Morgan Dukes, Sam Mlkvy) after COVID wiped out much of the 2020 season. Borzillo's career numbers reached incredible heights over her five seasons with 197 goals and 145 assists, among others.
The 2019 campaign, coming off the best season in its then-12-year program history that saw the Bearcats reach the postseason for the first time as well as finish as the runners-up in the inaugural American Athletic Conference season.
In 2018, the Bearcats strung together six wins in a row early in the year for the longest streak in program history on their way to records for wins (8) and winning percentage (.471). To get there, UC produced solid stats on both sides of the ball throughout the year, including 501 ground balls and an average of 29.47 per game, both of which led the NCAA. Offensively, the Bearcats broke single season program records for points (287), goals (201), assists (86), shots (504), shots on goal (371), man-up goals (12) and free-position goals (43). Along with their ground ball numbers, the defense also caused 187 turnovers, also a program record.
Individually, several Bearcats were solid once again, including Monica Borzillo, who was named All-BIG EAST Second Team for the second year in a row after accumulating 69 points on 42 goals and 27 assists, all of which ranked in the Top 10 of the conference. Two players recorded nearly 50 ground balls each on the year with freshman Morgan Dukes leading the way with 49 and Sam Mlkvy posting 48. Also on the defensive end, Giuliana Durso turned in a single-season record 161 saves and a 44.7 save percentage to help the Bearcats to several big wins, most notably a 17-12 win over Ohio State, the first victory in the series in program history.
UC increased its win total in 2017 and had Borzillo and Amanda Donovan named Second-Team All-BIG EAST Conference. Borzillo finished the season with 39 goals, a school-record 34 assists and 73 total points, leading the team in all categories, and ranking fourth in the BIG EAST with 2.00 assists per game, was second on the team with 33 points off 25 goals and seven assists while also ranking first in caused turnovers (28), fourth in ground balls (33) and fourth in draw controls (26).
The 2016 season saw the Bearcats double their win total from a season ago, while defender Kyara Byner became the first player in program history to earn first team All-BIG EAST honors, as well as All-Region honors from the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association.
The 2015 campaign saw a UC player earn postseason honors from the BIG EAST Conference for the first time in program history. Courtney Curtis was named second team All-BIG EAST after leading the team in goals at 37.
In 2014, Oliver coached the Bearcats to six victories, including a program record five-game winning streak that saw the team receive votes in the Brine/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll for the first time ever. This was after losing the team’s top scorer, Megan Bell, to injury in just the seventh game of the year. Five different Bearcats earned weekly honor from the BIG EAST Conference during the season, including Bell as Offensive Player of the Week and goalie Meg Gulmi as Defensive Player of the Week.
Her debut season in Cincinnati saw the 2013 Bearcats match the program record with seven wins, highlighted by the school’s first-ever BIG EAST victory over Rutgers to cap the season. Bell led the team in scoring, while Gulmi started every game as a rookie and averaged a league-best 8.88 saves per game. The win totals in 2013 and 2014 marked the best consecutive seasons in program history until the 2017-18 campaigns came along when UC won six and eight, respectively.
Oliver spent the previous five seasons at Duquesne (2008-2012) as the Dukes’ defensive coordinator, where she produced a 2012 Atlantic-10 Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. During her time at Duquesne, Oliver coached six IWLCA All-Region players, 21 all-conference honorees, 13 members of the A-10 All-Rookie Team and 12 student-athletes who won academic all-conference accolades.
A 2005 graduate of Ohio State, Oliver spent the 2006 and 2007 seasons on the Buckeyes staff, working under OSU head coach Sue Stimmel. While in Columbus, Oliver served as co-director of the Ohio State Women’s Lacrosse Camp, while also assisting with recruiting, budgeting and scholarship duties, as well as travel and team practice planning.
Oliver was one of 18 players on the U.S. Women’s National Team that won gold at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Cup in 2013. Playing as a defender at the World Cup, Oliver recorded 10 ground balls and caused seven turnovers. The highlight came as she was named the player of the game in Team USA’s 21-8 semifinal win over England after causing three turnovers and picking-up four ground balls. It was the second FIL World Cup gold for Oliver, who also won the World Cup in June 2009 and was named to the All-World Team, which is awarded to the best 12 players in the world.
A standout midfielder at Ohio State (2002-05), Oliver was a four-year letter winner for the Buckeyes and earned All-America honors three times. During her career, she collected All-America honors from the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (second team in 2003 and third team in 2004), WomensLacrosse.com (first team in 2003 and third team in 2005) and Warrior/Inside Lacrosse (first team in 2003). She was the American Lacrosse Conference Player of the Year in 2003 as Ohio State won the American Lacrosse Conference Championship and the league’s rookie of the year in 2002. Oliver was also a four-time, First-Team All-ALC selection.
The Pottstown, Pa., native closed out her time at OSU as the program’s career leader in ground balls (236) and caused turnovers (201) and was second in draw controls (121). She also was third in career points with 166 while ranking second in goals scored (125) and sixth in assists (41).
Oliver earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Ohio State in 2005.