Quinnipiac athletics: successful year in review

Dan Ward Staff Writer

What a year it has been for Quinnipiac University athletics. In only the fourth year of Division I athletics, Quinnipiac has made giant strides in developing a strong athletic program all-around. Television coverage, press coverage and national exposure are coming to Quinnipiac thanks to our sports. The attitude is great and the best is yet to come.
Perhaps the best season this year was recorded by the men’s hockey team. The team finished its season 20-13-5, winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). From there the hockey team earned a bid to the NCAA Hockey Tournament. Since only the top 12 teams in Division I hockey participate in the NCAA’s, this accomplishment proved that Quinnipiac has developed one of the top hockey teams in the country.
Head coach Rand Pecknold was a finalist for the National Coach of the Year. Although QU lost to Cornell in the first round, the experience of the tournament and national exposure will help land top recruits from the United States and Canada for years to come.
In March, the Quinnipiac campus was treated to a little “madness.” Men’s basketball head coach Joe DeSantis led his team to two wins. One was over the number two seeded Wagner and the number three UMBC in the Northeast Conference tournament.
By being in the finals of the NEC tournament, Quinnipiac was one win away from getting in the NCAA tournament. Although they lost to Central Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac played their hearts out in front of a sold out crowd, and it was televised by ESPN 2.
Seniors Jared Grasso and Bill Romano leave a legacy that includes scoring over 1,000 points each and having played all four seasons in Division I. Their contributions to the team will be missed next year as freshman Rob Monroe, sophomore Kason Mims and junior Jeremy Bishop hope to have another good run come March of next year.
The women’s basketball team had another solid season under the tutelage of their head coach Triccia Sacca-Fabbri, a newly inducted member of the Connecticut Basketball Hall of Fame.
The women posted a 13-14 overall record, and lost to Sacred Heart in the Quarterfinals of the NEC tournament. The future is bright as sophomore Ashley Kelly, a second Team All-NEC member, will return to help lead the QU women’s basketball team in their next season.
This season was the first in Division I for the Quinnipiac women’s hockey team. They competed in the ECAC, a conference that features schools such as Boston College, New Hampshire and Maine. They reached the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, losing to Niagara. With many underclassmen and transfers, it will take a year or two for this team to gel and make their mark in the ECAC.
The field hockey team enjoyed the most successful season in the school’s history, posting a 12-8 overall record. QU won the NEC championship and was on the cusp of the NCAA tournament, losing 5-1 to California in the play-in game.
Senior Julie Smith was a first team All-American and first team All NEC. Meanwhile, junior Courtney Ryan was a second team All-American selection and a first team All NEC.
The distance runners of cross-country also made the school proud with a fine season. The men’s team led by sophomore Tom Martin’s seventh place, finished fifth in the NEC Conference meet. Martin went on to post a school record in the 10K, 31:49, in the NCAA Northeast Regional meet.
For people who do not know cross-country times, Martin was running at about a five minute per mile pace for about 6.2 miles.
The women’s team finished fourth in the NEC meet. Junior Carolyn Robin was 11th and she also went on to set a school record in the NCAA Northeast Regional Meet, finishing the 6K race in 22:57.
The men’s lacrosse team, as of April 20, is 6-5. They will be seeded fourth as they head into the America East Tournament, the winner earning a trip to the NCAA’s.
Senior brothers, Joe and Mike Baglio, have been the stars of the team, giving QU two leaders to follow. Junior T.J. Barnett has been a force in net and his presence next year will assure QU of a stopper in goals.
The QU soccer teams had a combination of personal and team success. The women’s soccer team won the NEC regular season title, finishing 12-5. Their loss to Sacred Heart in the Semifinals of the conference tournament (2-1) may have been a disappointment, but the league recognized three women with an outstanding season.
Senior Chandra Manuelpillai and juniors Elisa Goncalves (the 2000 NEC player of the year) and Melissa Ganias were all awarded first team NEC honors.
In men’s soccer, a near .500 season is a foundation for improvement and success. Junior Everson Maciel was declared the NEC Player of the Year.
Women’s Volleyball recorded a 10-14 recorded, losing to Farleigh Dickinson University in the NEC Quarterfinals. Heather Wollyung was a first team All-Conference selection.
P.J. Gradowski, along with James Pristouris, host a sports talk show on WQAQ on Sunday’s from 12 to 2 p.m. Gradowski recently interviewed Quinnipiac Athletic Director Jack McDonald on the tremendous success his sports teams saw this year.
McDonald feels the winning in sports will lead to more national exposure and change this school dramatically-from a well-known local university, to a nationally known university. His relentless work to upgrade and improve the sports facilities has helped the attitude of the teams.
In September, the new Athletic Center will be completed. Look for QU to have artificial surfaces on the field hockey and lacrosse fields. This will give the teams a solid surface to play on in times of inclement weather. McDonald’s goals for Quinnipiac athletics is for continued school support, success in the conferences and to improve the facilities.