Five Fall Teams in Post-Season Tournaments
By Julia Gavin
After three fall seasons of NCAA Division II sports, UMass Lowell is ranked No. 8 in the first edition of the 2011-12 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Standings. The University leads all Northeast-10 and NCAA East Region schools in the competition. The River Hawks also lead the NE-10 Presidents’ Cup standings for the season. The standings are the result of excellent performances by the University’s athletics teams.
UMass Lowell played a solid season in its bid to repeat as national champions, but was defeated in the NCAA finals by West Chester, 2-1. The West Chester Golden Rams (17-4), who moved down from Division I to Division II this season, win their first NCAA Field Hockey Championship. The River Hawks finish their season at 19-4, highlighted by their sixth NCAA Finals appearance in seven years.
"There was the expectation that it would be a slight rebuilding year, but clearly as the season went on, we just kept getting better and I'm proud of this team for what it has accomplished," said head coach Shannon Hlebichuk.
Senior defender Kayla Littig of Carver was named the Synapse Sports’ Defensive MVP for the 2011 season, while five other River Hawks were also honored by the organization. Littig and Rachel McCarthy of Reading were named First Team All-Americans, Annie Hansbury of Plaistow, N.H., and Sarah Wilcox of Old Town, Maine were placed on the Second Team and Carrie Dresser of Plaistow, N.H. and Watertown’s Bianca Jones were named to the All-Rookie Squad.
The River Hawks’ season came to end with a three set loss to No. 4 St. Rose in the Northeast-10 Championship semifinals, settling at a final record of 13-11. The match scores were 27-29, 21-25 and 13-25, with UMass Lowell pushing their opponent to extra minutes early on. The River Hawks have enjoyed four semifinal appearances in the NE-10 Tournament. Watch highlights of their earlier 3-1 win against Franklin Pierce.
No. 4 UMass Lowell ended their 11-6-4 season against No. 2 St. Rose (21-1-1) in their 2011 East Region Final game. The River Hawks advanced to the game on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw at No. 1 Bridgeport in the NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer Tournament East Region Semifinal. The 1-1 draw and shootout marked the second time in three days UMass Lowell played to such a result, including a 0-0 deadlock after two overtimes against Dowling before the River Hawks advanced on penalty kicks, 5-3. In its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament in seven years, the matches marked the first time the River Hawks advanced past the first round, and fourth time it has played to penalty kicks.
No. 3 UMass Lowell was defeated by No. 2 Southern New Hampshire in the Northeast-10 Men's Soccer Tournament semifinal to put an end to an 11-7-0 season. The team fought back from a 0-2 deficit in the game, indicative of its strong improvement over last year's 3-11-2 record.
UMass Lowell captured its fourth straight NCAA East Region Title, advancing to the championships in Spokane, Wash., on Nov. 19. Six of the University runners were also named to the NCAA All-East Region Team, which is comprised of the top 25 racers. The title is especially thrilling for the team after its third place result at the recent Northeast-10 Conference championship.
The River Hawks rounded out the year by placing 20th at the NCAA Championships and leading all East Region schools at the competition.
The women's team placed fourth at the NCAA East Region Cross Country Championship. Although the meet ended the team's season, it was a marked improvement over its eighth place finish at the Northeast-10 Conference Championship.
Finishing off the fall season, the UMass Lowell golf team took third place at the 77th annual New England Intercollegiate Golf Association Championship, only three strokes above the winners. The result was the best in the program's history at the NEIGA Championship. UMass Lowell, which is currently ranked No. 8 in the latest NCAA East Region Poll, finished the fall season with a head-to-head record of 44-28 against Division II teams.
Wrapping up the short fall season, the UMass Lowell women's novice eight rowing team earned silver at the Quinsigamond Novice Challenge. With a time of 18:56, the team came in just behind Tufts University's 18:06 result. The novice eight also won the gold for the third straight year at the New Hampshire Championship earlier in the season.
Keeping busy in their off-season, the softball staff will offer a weekly pitching clinic on campus Nov. 16 through Dec. 21. The staff, including head coach Sean Cotter and several of his colleagues will provide up to 10 pitchers instruction in fundamental mechanics, increasing velocity, expanding repertoire and situational pitching. For more information, contact the UMass Lowell softball office at 978-934-3977 or contact assistant coach Kara_Melillo@uml.edu