After spending seven years at Yale, women’s lacrosse head coach Anne Phillips will be stepping down at the end of June when her contract expires.

The announcement, which several players said was unexpected, came after the Bulldogs finished with a record below 0.500 for the first time since 2012. According to players, Phillips will be greatly missed, and the program will start the search for a new coach as soon as possible.

“It is very sad news to hear that Coach Phillips won’t be returning next season,” captain and defender Kate Walker ’16 said. “We owe so much to her. Coach Phillips recruited all the classes on the 2015–16 team and gave us the opportunity to be Yale students and athletes. She is a great coach with a long history of high achievement so, while we will absolutely miss her, we know she’ll continue to find success in her future endeavors.”

Before coming to Yale, Phillips was the head women’s lacrosse coach at Franklin and Marshall College, where she led the team to an undefeated season in 2007 that culminated in a Division III NCAA national championship. Phillips transitioned from a Division III program to a Division I program when she took the offer of head coach for Yale’s team in late June of 2008. From that time on, Phillips started developing the women’s lacrosse program and its players.

But the Elis never posted a winning record in Ivy League play during Phillips’ tenure, after doing so in 13 of the previous 14 years under Amanda O’Leary, the winningest coach in program history, and Laura Field.

“Coach Phillips recruited me when I was just 16 years old, and I will forever be grateful for that,” defender Flannery Carney ’16 said. “Yale has been the best experience of my life and lacrosse has been the center point of my experience. And who knows, if it weren’t for her wanting me on the team, I may not have ended up at my dream school.”

Perhaps the Bulldogs’ strongest facet during Phillips’s time as head coach was their tenacious defense. Yale ranked among the nation’s best in scoring defense the past two years, sitting at 14th in the 2014 season and 18th in the 2015 season.

In addition, the Elis had 19 All-Ivy selections from 2008 to 2015, including four from this past season, where the Bulldogs came within a season-ending loss to Harvard from qualifying for the Ivy League tournament.

“I will always be grateful for Coach Phillips and appreciate all that she’s done for this program,” defender Marisa Cresham ’17 said.

Despite the difficulties of playing for a new head coach, players remained optimistic that this could be a big opportunity for the team.

For now, assistant coaches Andrea Cofrin and Ashley Casiano remain on the staff, potentially providing some continuity.

“It’s initially going to feel a bit off playing for someone who didn’t recruit you, but it will be interesting to experience this different person’s style of coaching and even his or her personality.” goalkeeper Sydney Marks ’18 said. “We certainly have a challenge ahead of us, but I think only good things can ultimately come out of this tough situation. It’s exciting too. Is it a bit daunting? Absolutely. But, it’s still exciting nonetheless.”

Walker added that the team has not been able to make the Ivy League tournament despite improving, and that a new coach could potentially bring fresh energy to the team and help give the Bulldogs the extra push necessary to improve.

Yale ended last season in sixth place in the Ivy League with a 2–5 conference record.