|Getting Away from Too Many Almost-Wins|
Theresa Ingram enjoys everything about her job. “Finding the little successes along the way is ultimately what keeps me coaching,” she says. “The mentoring I do, the relationships I build with my athletes, the teaching part that I ultimately love. But the challenging part is to find more wins.”
For Ingram, who is in her fifth year as head of the women’s lacrosse program, and her four predecessors, wins have been hard to come by over the years. The Ivy League has offered formal competition in the sport since 1980, and in those twenty-three seasons Brown has had just two winning seasons against Ivy competition, 4–2 in 1997, under coach Carolan Norris, and 4–3 in 1999, in Ingram’s first year. In fact, the team has had only nine winning seasons overall and has never made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
After a solid first season with the players she inherited from Norris, Ingram and the Bears have slogged through three of what she euphemistically calls “challenging” seasons: 2–5 in the Ivies and 6–8 overall in 2000; 2–5 in the Ivies and 5–10 overall in 2001; and 1–6 in the Ivies and 5–9 overall last year. But Ingram believes a turnaround is on the horizon.
And she’s not alone. “At our annual coaches’ convention [in January],” Ingram recalls, “people would say, ‘You had such a good season [in 2002].’ I’d say, ‘We were 5–9.’ They’d say, ‘Oh,’ because they’d heard so many good things about us.
“Have we built our reputation, and do our counterparts know we’re to be reckoned with? No doubt. We are reaping the benefits of the recruiting we’ve done and the strong schedule we play. As soon as we stop the ‘almost-wins’ and actually have a big win, we’ll be on our way.”
The 2003 Bears return twenty-three players from last year, including nine starters and, most important in Ingram’s view, six seniors. “This is the most exciting year I’ve faced at Brown, in that my seniors were the first class I brought in,” she says. “With that comes trust. They’re more knowing of their coach and of each other. Now they’ve geared up the kids underneath them.”
Among this year’s returnees are the team’s top two scorers. Christine Anneberg ’04 led Brown with thirty-one goals and ten assists last year while earning second-team All Ivy and All North Region honors. Tricaptain Bekah Rottenberg ’03, also a second-team All Ivy selection, whipped in twenty-eight goals last spring, including a five-goals-on-five-shots spree versus Northwestern; she also led the team in draw controls, with thirty-four. Ingram is also expecting a big senior year on attack from tricaptain Jocelyn Moore ’03.
Laurel Pierpont ’04, who is also a standout field-hockey player, is returning to head up the midfield. Pierpont, an All Ivy honorable mention selection last year, was second on the team in draw controls, with twenty, and added ten goals and five assists. And midfielder Emily Blanton ’04, the Bears’ fastest player, may be on the verge of a breakout year, according to Ingram.
Finally, Brown returns three starters on defense: tricaptain Maggie Connolly ’03; Deb Mendel ’04, who has been a starter since her freshman year; and Anne Marie Evriviades ’05, who enjoyed a solid rookie season in 2002.
One important transition will come at the net, however. Ingram is counting on Julia Southard ’05 to fill the goaltending spot left vacant by second-team All Ivy pick Niki Caggiano, who graduated with a school-record 660 career saves last May.
Ingram figures her Bears are a year away from competing for the Ivy title, but she also thinks that one of the sixteen NCAA tournament berths “is a very realistic goal. We need to get back to .500 first and not stop once we get there.”