May 7, 2010
BERKELEY - California lacrosse head coach Theresa Sherry led the Golden Bears to an 8-10 overall record (3-3 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) in the 2010 season, which ended when Cal lost, 9-7, to rival and No. 15 Stanford on April 30 in the MPSF Tournament semifinals in Denver. The 2008 MPSF Coach of the Year recently spoke to CalBears.com about this season, her third as head coach.
CalBears.com: How do you feel about your team's performance in the last game?
Theresa Sherry: "That game was kind of similar to a lot of the year that we had. We showed our youth early on in the game, with the nervousness that our players seemed to be experiencing. But then we fought through. We had some brilliant moments on the attack and on the defense. Allie Shropshire's phenomenal saves in the second half were pretty impressive and inspiring. The girls really rallied around that.
"Just kind of like this year, there were times when we made things hard for ourselves, and there were times when things were hard for our team that were out of our control. Both were going on in that game. We were still experiencing injuries, so we were doing the best we could in filling in different spots. And there were a few times we threw the ball away, which was disappointing and tough. We would work so hard to get it back, and we would have these great plays and sometimes follow them with a turnover.
"But the thing I was happy about was the way that our team really showed progress from the beginning to the end of the season. We really started to find our rhythm at the end of our season, and it was neat to see people stepping up more and more towards the end, especially in the conference tournament."
CalBears.com: So the youth - you had 12 true freshmen on the roster - led to the inconsistency early in the season?
CalBears.com: Which of the freshmen in particular shone late in the season?
TS: "Megan Takacs really came alive. She's one of our most talented athletes. She's very fast. She's got a good stick, and she just has a lot of natural ability. I think finally at the end she started taking control more. She was taking draws for us. She became a better defensive player, and she was scoring some goals and setting up plays. We're trying to continue to make her a threat on both ends of the field, and it started to happen there at the end of the season.
"Melissa Humphrey is another one who made an impact. She was more consistent at the end - a help to us in the circle, gaining draw controls, putting the ball in the back of the net but also setting up a few plays. She also got better on the defensive end.
"And then Camilla Hayes struggled with injuries this season, but she found her niche at the end of the season, more on the defensive end. We had her playing in the midfield. She is very good on the draws, which she still helped us with at the end of the season. She really found a spot on the defensive end, marking up on players."
CalBears.com: How much did goalkeeper Allie Shropshire grow in her first season as the starter?
TS: "Allie Shropshire was struggling with injuries from beginning to end, so I think the way that she progressed was really through game experience. She was pretty limited throughout the season in practice. But her command of the defense really improved. She came out of the crease more towards the end of the season and started taking a few more risks and become, almost, that extra defender for us. I think she did well at the beginning of the season, but I think she had more game-changing plays at the end, so we were happy with that. She found a little bit more consistency as well, and she was really the spark that we needed."
CalBears.com: Stanford now has the opportunity to take advantage of the NCAA play-in that goes to the MPSF Tournament champion. How important was it for the conference to get that play-in opportunity for the first time this year?
TS: "It's huge for the conference, and we are rooting for our conference and Stanford now. It will help our conference get more national attention and respect. We're hoping that we get to the point where we have multiple teams from our conference getting into the NCAA Tournament, either through tournament expansion or through at-large bids with the size of the tournament now."
CalBears.com: Tighe Hutchins has been back in Berkeley and amongst her old teammates the last few weeks. Was having her around a boost to the team in its last few games?
TS: "It was very inspiring to have Tighe back. It was really neat to have her back on the sideline again for at least one of our games. She kind of stepped right back in, as if she hadn't left. She's still a solid leader, and she's a good friend. I think it was great for her teammates to see her there and to have her around. It was really special to have her at the annual team banquet and to celebrate her whole career, and not just this year and the things she's overcome this year. She was a captain for us last year and a true leader throughout her time here. It was nice to be able to celebrate all of her four years, so that was really special."
TS: "It was a very balanced group. They all offered something different, but they all offered a strong presence in what their niche was. We lose a field general in Alex. We lost a lot of positivity and spirit in Alyse and Omo. And we lose the quiet leader in Denna. There will definitely be a void that will have to be filled, because they were such a strong class and really made an impact on the team more than just this year."
CalBears.com: Did any players surprise you this year?
TS: "Allie Welsh really came alive. She has the talent, and we knew that. But the way that she and Tara Arolla stepped up was huge, and it was really necessary. It was a pleasant surprise to see them making such an impact on our attack and being the leaders that they were even as sophomores. Vail Horn stepped up at the end, so that was nice to see.
"The surprises were very much in our sophomore class. They became a lot more precocious, and the transition from last year to this year was huge, so that was exciting to see. Melissa Sheehan is another one who not only earned a starting spot but became a leader on the defense. She struggled with injuries towards the end, but she and Tori Harrison became a good team back there on the defense. Most of our sophomores were starting, and it was fun to see them make this team their own a little bit."