Sometimes being in the wrong place at the wrong time can move you into the right place at the right time.
Just ask Pat Laughlin, Brown's new men's soccer coach. After Laughlin landed his first head coaching job at his alma mater, the University of Maine, back in 2007, he turned around a program that was in the middle of a twenty-six-game winless streak and rebuilt the program in only two years. But just as the team was improving, Maine dropped men's soccer. Laughlin moved to Brown last season to become head coach Mike Noonan's top assistant, and when Noonan left for the top coaching job at Clemson, Laughlin became just the sixth head coach in Brown's illustrious eighty-four-year history of men's soccer.
After inheriting a moribund program at Maine, Laughlin takes over one of the most successful Division I programs around. The Bears have won nineteen Ivy League titles and earned twenty-four NCAA tournament appearances, progressing to the quarterfinals eight times and the semifinals four times.
"You always want to be able to continue the past success and add to it," Laughlin says, "to create a new legacy, create a new part of the history of Brown men's soccer."
Laughlin, who has been coaching since 1994, believes he's up to the job. He says he hopes to put his own stamp on the Brown program, but does not plan to make wholesale changes—not now, at least.
"Every coach sees the game a little bit differently," he says, "so some of my thoughts and feelings will be pushed on and pushed to the forefront, but there are so many good things from the past that we want to keep."
One change that fans may notice is more of an attacking style of play. "We will play an aggressive and high-tempo brand of soccer," Laughlin says. "We will look to press and attack our opponents. Going forward, we will endeavor to add more variety to our attack and encourage the players in the final third to be creative."
The schedule will be as rigorous as ever. The Bears play against five NCAA tournament teams from last season, and three that were ranked in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America Top 25 Poll.
"Brown men's soccer will look to continue with our foundation of being a difficult opponent to beat, willing to play any top program in the country," said Laughlin.
The Bears will host number-twenty Indiana on September 17, and number-twenty-one St. John's in a midweek contest on October 5. It will then face number-nine Harvard on October 16.
Gordon Morton '93 is the author of a book on the history of Brown athletics.