Ingrid Boyum was fairly matter-of-fact when asked how she wound up as a goalie.
Boyum took up lacrosse in fifth grade and after a few practices the head coach asked if anyone was willing to try goalie since the first player selected did not like the assignment. Boyum volunteered to step into the cage primarily because she was tired of hearing the previous occupant “whine” about getting hit by balls.
Boyum’s close friends and teammates on the Navy women’s lacrosse team say that story fits her personality. Boyum is the type of person who makes a decision then follows through.
“Iggy is definitely an interesting character. When she sets her mind to doing something she doesn’t let anyone get in the way of whatever that is,” senior defender Sarah Childress said.
That decisive, determined attitude is an excellent trait for a goalkeeper to possess. Boyum is constantly required to make split-second choices and has proven quite adept at doing so during her three seasons as a starter for the Midshipmen.
“Iggy will always do something to surprise you, like suddenly come out of the cage and intercept a pass,” Childress said. “Iggy makes a ton of insane saves because she has such great instincts and reaction time. She’s just a real dependable performer back there.”
Boyum has indeed been a rock of stability as the last line of Navy’s defense since 2015 and now holds the program record for career saves with 379. With 10 stops against Boston University last Saturday, Boyum broke the previous mark of 375 set by Elaina Ponchione (2009-2012).
“While I’m proud of that record, I can’t really take all the credit. Even though that sounds like an individual accomplishment, I give so much credit to my teammates and coaches,” Boyum said. “They will come out and shoot on me for hours and hours. Having all our great offensive players to practice against has helped so much.”
Boyum has posted consistent statistics throughout her three seasons as the starter and finally earned some recognition as a senior. Earlier this week, the 5-foot-9 left-hander was named second team All-Patriot League – the first time she has received any postseason honors.
“I don’t know what took so long, but people are finally realizing that Ingrid does a great job of anchoring one of the country’s top defenses,” said Navy assistant coach Gabby Capuzzi.
MENTOR AND ROLE MODEL
As a sophomore at The Madeira School in McLean, Virginia, Boyum began working with one of the greatest goalies in women’s lacrosse history. She made the nearly two-hour drive from northern Virginia to Towson for personal tutoring sessions with Meg Huether, a member of the United States national team for 10 years.
They were connected through Katie Lamade, head coach at The Madeira School and former teammate of Huether’s at Duke. Boyum felt an immediate affinity for Huether since both are left-handed goaltenders, which is rather rare.
“I think Meg is the best goalie coach, period. She was hugely important in my development,” Boyum said. “Meg is very good at figuring out what technique is best for your playing style.”
Boyum and Huether bonded beyond the lacrosse field with the latter becoming an important female mentor for the former.
“I still call Meg at least once a week to talk about life and lacrosse,” Boyum said. “Meg has taught me a ton about technique, but even more about the mental side of the game. She talks all the time about being resilient and being a good teammate. I’m so grateful to have Meg in my life. I was so lucky to be coached by my role model.”
Huether, who played for the U.S. in the 2009 and 2013 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup, considers Boyum a part of her family. Huether was on hand to support her protégé during Senior Day festivities at both The Madeira School in 2014 and the Naval Academy last Saturday.
“I first met Ingrid when she was a freshman in high school and we kind of took to each other right away,” Huether said. “Ingrid has this great love of the game that I really appreciate because I do, too. So we kind of latched onto each other from the beginning and have been together ever since.”
Boyum refers to Huether’s daughter as her little sister and feels comfortable talking to the legendary netminder about any topic, however personal.
“I think Ingrid was always looking for that adult role model who could give honest feedback, someone outside her immediate family that could provide a different take on things,” said Huether, a Maryvale Prep product. “We’ve had a lot of great conversations about life and have grown very close.”
That relationship proved quite fortunate for Navy since Huether had once been an assistant on head coach Cindy Timchal’s staff in Annapolis. Huether recommended Boyum to Navy and vise versa.
“We really got to know Ingrid because she was doing goalie camps with Meg Huether,” Timchal recalled. “Ingrid’s interest in the academy was high and we were looking for a good goalie so it all came together quite nicely.”
BULL-HEADED AND STUBBORN
Typical of her personality, Boyum did a thorough assessment and determined the Naval Academy was the best collegiate option due to the quality of education and the career opportunities following graduation. She was equally impressed by the quality of the women’s lacrosse program and the caliber of coaching.
“Once I made the decision to attend the Naval Academy I never really looked back,” said Boyum, who also considered Notre Dame and Pennsylvania.
Like most incoming plebes, Boyum had some initial reservations about spending four years at the Naval Academy. With a slight laugh, Boyum admits now to not really knowing what she was getting into.
“I’m not sure my expectations were completely on target,” she said. “For a while, I didn’t really know how I would fit into the academy. I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed certain aspects of military life and the customs here.”
Being part of the women’s lacrosse program and getting great support from teammates and coaches helped Boyum adapt to the academy and ultimately develop into a fine midshipman.
“There have certainly been some ups and downs, some tough times that led to a lot of growth and character development,” she said. “I’ve been super lucky to have great teammates, great coaches and great mentors. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve been rewarded with so many awesome opportunities.”
Boyum, an English major, described herself as “a little bull-headed and stubborn.” That mindset can sometimes be a problem at the Naval Academy and Boyum discovered that a midshipman must know when to keep their mouth shut.
“I’ve learned over the last four years when it’s OK to assert my different opinion,” she said.
Boyum backed up Annie Foky as a freshman then was thrown into the fire the following season. She started all 19 games and stopped 45 percent of shots while backstopping a solid defense comprised of Lizzy Rullan, Molly Doyle, Meghan Hubley and Blake Smith.
“I saw Iggy really grow as a player and develop confidence as a sophomore,” said Capuzzi, Navy’s defensive coordinator.
Boyum agreed with that assessment and believes in hindsight the lacrosse field served as a tremendous incubator for the type of qualities the Naval Academy is trying to develop in its future officers.
“As a goalie you are thrust into leadership. When I was a sophomore starter I was playing back there with a lot of veteran defenders and they would look to me after a goal was scored and ask what happened,” Boyum said. “I have learned more about leadership and speaking up from playing lacrosse than through any other aspect of the academy.”
“THE ULTIMATE LAX RAT”
Capuzzi and Boyum arrived at the Naval Academy the same year and have developed a close relationship. Capuzzi, a standout midfielder at Ohio State, has been warming up Boyum before practices and games for four years now.
“Iggy is the ultimate lax rat on our team. She has such a huge passion for the sport,” Capuzzi said. “She is watching all the big games on weekends and will come into the office on Monday to talk about Maryland-Penn State or Carolina-Syracuse.”
During summers, Boyum works the “Between the Pipes” camps and clinics that Huether conducts. As soon as each session is over, Boyum will grab five players and take shots for an hour while asking Huether to critique her technique.
“It’s been neat to see Ingrid grow as a player and a person the past four years. She has really stepped up and matured into a vocal leader, on and off the field,” Capuzzi said.
Capuzzi has watched first-hand as Boyum become more and more fundamentally-sound with each passing season. She and Timchal both have high praise for the clearing ability of Boyum, who consistently tosses pinpoint outlet passes.
“I think Ingrid’s biggest strength is her clearing, which is a really important skill,” said Capuzzi, noting that clearing has become more and more crucial with the recent rules changes implemented in women’s lacrosse. “Iggy is so heads-up with great vision and timing. She has a hack for hitting the long 50-yard passes into the box, which is huge.”
Timchal has been impressed with the resilience displayed by Boyum, who does not get angry about giving up a goal. “Goals are going to be scored and Ingrid has shown the ability to bounce back,” she said.
Boyum admits she used to get upset if the opposing team went on a scoring run. With maturity and experience comes the realization that she is not entirely to blame if a goal goes into the net.
“It’s a really mentally challenging position. If you save half the shots you see you’re probably an All-American,” she said. “It’s tough to get scored on most of the time and still maintain confidence and a positive attitude. Personally, I try to focus more on the process of how I get prepared to make the save as opposed to the outcome.”
Timchal and Capuzzi both feel there is a slight advantage to having a lefty goalie since the majority of offensive players are right-handed and have been trained to shoot in certain spots on right-handed keepers.
Capuzzi said Boyum has a “very bubbly personality” and “always keeps everyone on their toes.” Childress said her classmate has a tendency to “say some stuff that is a little bit off-the-wall.”
“Iggy is a funny, happy-go-lucky girl. She is goofy and funny without realizing it,” Childress said.
Boyum, who was given the nickname Iggy as a plebe by defender Molly Doyle, has received intelligence as a service assignment. She will spend six months at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in Virginia Beach before being set out into the field.
“I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be doing and if I did know I probably couldn’t tell you,” said Boyum, one of only a handful of 2018 academy graduates assigned to the intelligence community. “Considering today’s global climate, I think intelligence is a really important field and also extremely exciting.”