Lisa Miller, who built the Syracuse women's lacrosse program from scratch into a perennial NCAA tournament contender, has reenergized the Harvard lacrosse program over the last seven years and is on the verge of bringing the Crimson program back to the national spotlight.
Through 17 years of coaching, Miller carries a career record of 160-107 (.599) into the 2015 season. Her 59.9 winning percentage ranks in the top 25 among active NCAA coaches, while she is 23rd on the active list with 160 victories.
Miller has made a tremendous impact on the team in seven seasons at the helm. The Crimson has won seven games against nationally ranked teams, including three in 2012. In 2011, Harvard received votes in the IWLCA poll for nine weeks before earning a spot, No. 20, in the final two polls of the season. It was Harvard’s first appearance in the rankings since 1997. Miller’s teams have boasted two Ivy League Rookies of the Year, 28 All-Ivy League selections and had the league's leading scorer three years in a row from 2009-2011, as well as again in 2014.
In 2014, the Crimson returned to the Ivy League tournament for the first time since 2012, going 9-7 overall and 4-3 in conference games. Rookie Marisa Romeo led the Ivy with 48 goals, tying her for 10th all-time in single-season scoring in school history.
During the 2013 campaign, Harvard posted a 2-1 record at home and earned four All-Ivy League selections, including a first team nod by Micaela Cyr '13. The Crimson ranked 19th in the nation with 13.57 draw controls per game, with Kyleigh Keating standing 28th among individuals (3.79).
In stark contrast to the previous season, Harvard's strength in 2012 laid in its defense. The Crimson finished the year ranked fourth in the NCAA in scoring defense (7.81) while freshman goalkeeper Kelly Weis '15 posted the third-best goals against average (7.63) and 14th-best save percentage (.474) in the country. Harvard held 12 of its 16 opponents to under 10 goals, while five opponents scored five or fewer goals. The Crimson posted a 9-7 record overall, marking the team's third consecutive winning season, and advanced to the Ivy League Tournament Semifinals. As a result seven Crimson were named to the All-Ivy League teams, including unanimous first team selection Ellen Gleason '12, representing the most All-Ivy picks for the team since 1990. It is also of note that all seven of Harvard's losses came against ranked opponents as the Crimson's strength of schedule ranked 17th in the NCAA.
Harvard, with one of the best offenses in the Ivy League and the nation, posted its best overall (10-6) and conference (5-2) records since 1994 in 2011. The Crimson advanced to the Ivy League Championship game after knocking off No. 10 Dartmouth in the semifinal game. Harvard handed Princeton a loss on its home turf for the first time since 1991. The win over the Tigers also marked the first back-to-back wins over Princeton since 1991-92. Harvard also picked up its first win over the Big Green since 1994. Miller’s team made five second-half comeback wins and fell in three others by one goal. Five Crimson players earned a spot on the All-Ivy League teams and three were named All-Northeast region.
This came just one season after the Crimson had its best conference record since 2006, going 3-4 in league play in 2010. It was the second winning season for Miller in her three seasons with the Crimson. Harvard recorded its second win over a nationally-ranked team under Miller, knocking off No. 15 New Hampshire in March. The Crimson also made history, beating Princeton, 11-9, on Alumnae Day for the first time since 1992. Freshman Jennifer VanderMeulen '13 was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year and led the league in scoring all season long. Harvard had three All-Ivy League recipients for the second time during her tenure.
The Crimson picked up nine wins in 2008, the most victories in six years. Harvard had its best start since 1992, going 7-1 through its first eight games. Jess Halpern '11-’12 was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, while two other players earned All-Ivy League honors. The Crimson was second in the Ivy League and 33rd in the nation in goals per game with 11.81.
Miller, a Plymouth, Mass., native and the 2007 Big East Coach of the Year, led the Orange to six NCAA Championship appearances in 10 seasons. She is also head coach of the Canadian National Team, served previously as an assistant coach at Brown and Wheaton (Mass.) and was an All-America player at William & Mary, where she is a member of the school's athletics hall of fame.
After entering 2007 ranked 10th among active coaches with a .664 winning percentage, Miller improved on that mark and finished her Syracuse tenure with a 106-53 record (.667). The Orange's streak of 10 straight winning seasons, all under Miller, is tied for the fifth-longest in NCAA history. During her SU tenure, Miller's players garnered 17 Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association All-America selections, 31 all-region picks and 32 All-Big East honors. She mentored the Big East Attack Player of the Year in 2004 and the conference's Midfield Player of the Year in 2001, the league's inaugural season.
Miller has served as the IWLCA academic chair since 2004. Her student-athletes have earned three selections to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic-All-District teams and one Academic All-America honor. Her players have earned selection to the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll on 14 occasions, and the 2005 team was recognized as an IWLCA National Academic Squad.
Seventeen of Miller's players have gone on to become collegiate coaches, with three earning head-coaching positions.
Miller's final season at Syracuse was perhaps her finest. The Orange went 13-6 to set a school record for wins, defeated five ranked teams, shared the Big East regular-season title, won the inaugural Big East Championship and knocked off No. 8 seed Vanderbilt in the first round of the NCAA Championship before falling to eventual national champion Northwestern in the quarterfinals.
Miller led Syracuse to 12-win seasons in 2005 (12-5), 2000 (12-4) and 1999 (12-4). An 11-game winning streak in 2000 helped the team reach the NCAA Championship in just the program's third season of play. The 1999 squad won the ECAC Championship, as Miller was named IWLCA North Region Coach of the Year and one of three finalists for Division I National Coach of the Year.
Miller was named the Canadian National Team head coach in January of 2007 after serving as an assistant coach for the Canadian team in 2000-01. She began a term as a member of the NCAA Women's Lacrosse Committee in September of 2007 and has previously served on the Tewaaraton Trophy Selection Committee (2004-06) and as chair of the All-America Committee (1995-98).
Prior to taking over at Syracuse, Miller got her first taste of the Ivy League as an assistant coach at Brown from 1994-96. Following her third and final season, in which she helped Brown go 15-4 and reach No. 15 in the national rankings, Miller left to start the Syracuse program.
Miller began her coaching career here in Massachusetts. She served first as an assistant coach, then as associate head coach at Wheaton from 1991-94 after getting her start as head coach of girls' lacrosse and field hockey at Thayer Academy in Braintree in 1988-89.
At William & Mary, Miller was captain of her team, the 1987 Outstanding Female Senior Athlete and an All-America selection. She graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in economics. Entering the 2007 season, she still ranked fourth on the William & Mary all-time goals list with 118 and seventh on its career points list with 145
Miller was also a member of the U.S. National Team as a senior and completed her playing career as an alternate on the 1989 World Cup squad. In 2004, Miller became only the third women's lacrosse player to be inducted into the William & Mary Athletics Hall of Fame.