June 21, 2012
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Patriot League women's sports were once again competitive in 2011-12, but the rest of the League had a tough time keeping up with Navy. The Mids won the Patriot League title in half of the women's sports they competed in, grabbing the crown in cross country, basketball, swimming and diving, lacrosse and outdoor track and field. Navy won the women's Presidents Cup title for the first time, unseating 14-time defending champion Bucknell for the top spot.
Five schools combined to take the remaining seven women's sports championships, with Bucknell (indoor track and field, rowing) and Army (soccer, tennis) each claiming a pair. Lehigh (softball), Lafayette (field hockey) and American (volleyball) also claimed women's sports championships in 2011-12.
A synopsis of each sport during the 2011-12 season is included below. In addition, the top academic and athletic accomplishments for female student-athletes in 2011-12 is available here with a photo gallery of the season's women's sports champions here
The 2011-12 season saw Navy repeat as Patriot League champion, and featured two additional postseason participants as well. Navy earned the No. 3 seed in the Patriot League Tournament after going 8-6 in the regular season, and won at home against Colgate (66-54) in the quarterfinals on March 1, at Lehigh (64-59) in the semifinals on March 5 and at home against Holy Cross (57-48) in the championship on March 10 to claim its second consecutive League title. American made its fourth trip in five years to the WNIT after putting together an unprecedented 14-0 record in League play. The Eagles cleaned up in major awards, as Lisa Strack was named Player of the Year, Ebony Edwards took the Defensive Player of the Year honor and Alexis Dobbs was named Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year. While the Mids bowed out in the NCAA Tournament and American fell in its WNIT opener, Holy Cross defeated New Hampshire in the first round of the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) for the first postseason win by a Patriot League team since 1991.
In just their fifth year as a Division I program, Navy women's lacrosse already boasts a three-peat as it dominated in the regular season and Patriot League Tournament to win another crown. The Mids went 6-0 during the Patriot League regular season, the first undefeated conference mark since 2007, and put on an impressive performance in the Patriot League Tournament by defeating American 14-7 in the semifinals on April 27 and Holy Cross 18-11 for the championship two days later to win the crown on their home field. Navy rallied for a 10-9 win over Oregon in an NCAA Play-In game on May 5 before bowing out to North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament the following weekend. The Mids finished 19th in the final deBeer Media Poll. There were numerous individual accolades throughout the year for the Mids, led by Cindy Timchal being inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Class of 2012 after also winning the Patriot League Coach of the Year award. Jasmine DePompeo was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, with Loren Generi claiming the Rookie of the Year honor. DePompeo, Colgate's Courtney Miller and Lafayette's Addie Godfrey and Ana White all made the IWLCA All-Region team. DePompeo also added a third-team spot on the Capital One Academic All-America At-Large squad.
A fourth-place finish in the regular season did not mean anything once the Patriot League Tournament began, as Army came from the No. 4 spot to win the League crown for the first time since 2008. The Black Knights put together a dominant performance in the postseason, as they blanked host and top seed Colgate 2-0 in the semifinals on Nov. 4 and defeated rival Navy by the same final for the championship two days later. Army's strong play continued into the NCAA Tournament, where the Black Knights were tied with 13-ranked Penn State for nearly 90 minutes before giving up a late goal in a 1-0 defeat on Nov. 11. Seven Patriot Leaguers received All-Region honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA), including Lafayette's Lauren Smedley on the first team. There were preseason honors as well, with Lehigh's Janna Basubas on the list of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and Army's Molly McGuigan on the Hermann Trophy Watch list.
Lehigh's dominance continued with a fourth title in the past five seasons and seventh in the last nine years, and the Mountain Hawks did it in unprecedented fashion by not allowing a run in the Patriot League Tournament. Lehigh went 18-2 during the regular season to earn the right to host the event at Kaufman Field, and posted a shutout of Lafayette and two of Army on its way to 21 scoreless innings for the tournament and its 12th tournament title overall. Junior Rebecca Bliss won a second straight Patriot League Tournament MVP honor by throwing 14 scoreless innings against the Black Knights. A pair of Lehigh seniors had memorable finishes to their careers, as Jennifer Colquhoun was named Patriot League Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Year as well as a first-team Capital One Academic All-American and Julie Fernandez was a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and set multiple Patriot League records including the all-time hits and doubles marks. Army came up just short to the Mountain Hawks in the League Tournament and finished 14-6 in the regular season while being led by freshman pitcher Morgan Lashley, who broke nearly every single-season record and earned the League's Pitcher and Rookie of the Year honors.
It was the end of an era in Patriot League field hockey, as Lafayette became the first team other than American to win the League title since 2002. The Leopards claimed the crown by defeating Bucknell 3-1 in the championship contest on Nov. 5 at American. A day earlier, the Bison dethroned the eight-time champion Eagles with a 3-2 triumph in the first semifinal contest of the League Tournament in Washington. Lafayette fell in a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker to Mid-American Conference champion Ohio in an NCAA Play-In game on Nov. 8. Following the season, the League's programs were recognized by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) for their academic success with all six maintaining a team grade-point average above 3.0, and American earning the top spot nationally with a 3.55 average.
For the 10th time in 11 seasons, the American Eagles stood at the top in Patriot League volleyball. The Eagles, who finished 13-1 in the regular season to outpace Army by one game, beat Colgate 3-1 in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament at home on Nov. 19 before vanquishing the Black Knights by the same final the next day. American freshman Sara Rishell was named the Patriot League Player of the Year, Tournament Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year in a banner start to her career with the Eagles. American fell in a four-set match to Delaware in the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 2, winning the first set before being edged in the next three.
While rival Navy presented a challenge, Army remained at the top spot in Patriot League women's tennis by defeating the Mids in the championship match on April 22 for their eighth consecutive League title. Both teams swept through the rest of the Patriot League competition in the regular season and tournament before the Black Knights posted a 4-1 victory over the Mids for the League title. Army sophomore Jamila Paul was named the Patriot League Player of the Year, while freshman Natalie Allen claimed the Rookie of the Year honor and Paul Peck took home the Coach of the Year honor. Emily Marr of Holy Cross was awarded the Women's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
Swimming & Diving
Navy re-claimed the Patriot League title with an outstanding performance at its home pool from Feb. 16-18. The Mids won 16 of 20 events to score 933.5 points, easily outdistancing second-place Colgate with 692.5 points. Junior Laura Gorinski led the way by claiming the Female Swimmer of the Meet award, but her accomplishments in 2012 hardly stopped there. Gorinski swam the 100 and 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship, and was also named the Patriot League Women's Swimming and Diving Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second straight season.
The 2011 Patriot League cross country season featured a championship in the snow, but it couldn't stop the top runner in the conference. Navy senior Jess Palacio won the Patriot League title in a time of 21:56.1 to lead the Mids to the crown, and went on to compete in the 6K at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. She was named to the United States Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association's (USTFCCCA) All-Region Team, and capped the year as one of the Patriot League's nominees for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. Colgate senior Elise DeRoo claimed the other nomination from the conference for the NCAA Woman of the Year honor to finish her distinguished career. She placed third at the Patriot League Championship, and was named the sport's Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.
Track & Field
Bucknell and Navy continue to lead the way in Patriot League track and field, and each program came away with a title in 2012. The Bison held off the Mids to win the indoor title at home from Feb. 17-19, while it was Navy in first place and Bucknell second at the outdoor championship held at Holy Cross on May 4-5. Navy's Jess Palacio was named the Outstanding Female Track Athlete of the Meet for the third straight year at the outdoor championship, capping an outstanding year that also saw her earn second-team All-America honors in the mile by placing 16th at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship. A pair of student-athletes doubled up on individual awards, with Bucknell's Caroline Tolli claiming the Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards and Lafayette's Joelle Nelson winning the Outstanding Field Athlete of the Meet award at both the Indoor and Outdoor Championships. The awards continued into June, with Palacio and Colgate's Elise DeRoo named as the Patriot League's candidates for the NCAA Woman of the Year award, Holy Cross' Katelynn Hartnett winning the Patriot League Sportsmanship award and Navy's Brigid Byrne earning third-team Capital One Academic All-America recognition in cross country/track and field.
Bucknell won its seventh straight Patriot League championship, once again coming from behind by winning the varsity eight race to claim the title on April 29 at Cooper River in Cherry Hill, N.J. Patriot League student-athletes were honored by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) following the season, with 26 named as National Scholar-Athletes and three honored to the All-Region teams. After receiving an All-Region selection, Navy sophomore Katherine Ashton also went on to become the first Patriot Leaguer in five years to be named to the CRCA All-America team.