ARLINGTON, Va. – What a year for Marymount athletics! Five conference tournament appearances, a regular-season champion, gold medals at the conference swim championships, a program-first ECAC champion, an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament and making it to the Sweet 16 in Minnesota, a pair of All-Americans… And all of this goes without saying the incredible success in the classroom. The list goes on and on.
It is safe to say that the 2016-17 year was of great success for the Saints, and it leaves us with plenty to recap for the year.
The Fall season kicked off the year with another successful season by the women's volleyball team along with the cross country team finishing up its first season under Head Coach Brian Cunningham.
The women's volleyball team posted its fourth 20-plus win season in five years, notching a 25-9 record including the program's first top-25 victory, defeating No. 12 University of Mary Washington in the Verizon Sports Arena, 3-1. The Saints, the four seed in the Capital Athletic Conference tournament, earned a first-round win over St. Mary's College of Maryland before falling in the semifinals to Mary Washington. They then made their way to the semifinals of the ECAC Championship. At the conclusion of the year, seniors Cailyn Thomas and Emileigh Rettig and junior Margaret McAlpin were selected as All-CAC honorees, while Thomas went on to earn All-Region and the program's third AVCA All-American accolade.
On the gravel, Cunningham guided the cross country team to its first trip to the NCAA Division III Regionals in program history, where they finished 18th out of 27 total teams in attendance.
Also to note about the success in the Fall season, sophomore defender Rodney Ngoh of the men's soccer team earned his second-straight season being named to First-Team All-CAC, First-Team All-ECAC, and First-Team VaSID All-State.
Transitioning into the winter season, the success came on the court and in the pool. Both basketball squads earned trips to the CAC Tournament, hosting first-round victories and advancing to the semifinals.
The men's basketball squad, who had junior Dimitri Rucker make his way onto his first collegiate All-CAC squad along with Player of the Week once, grinded out a 9-9 conference record in a tough league this year, earning it a four seed in the tournament where it defeated St. Mary's, 69-64, in the Verizon Sports Arena.
On the women's side, the Saints went 24-6 overall, 15-3 in league play, earning them the three seed in the postseason tournament. Advancing to the semifinals with a 58-44 victory over Salisbury University, Marymount earned its second-straight at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, an atmosphere the squad is quite familiar with. Traveling to Guilford College in North Carolina for the opening two rounds, the Saints advanced past the hosts in the first round before knocking off Albright College in the second round, 68-59, to punch a ticket to the Sweet 16 in Minnesota. Unfortunately, they would fall short to No. 3 and undefeated, University of St. Thomas, 62-55. But it didn't go without a fight, taking a 46-45 lead into the final quarter following a half-court buzzer beater by junior Leah Hurst. Prior to the successful season, junior Nicole Viscuso was named a D3hoops.com Preseason All-American. Throughout the year, Hurst was named a two-time CAC Player of the Week, while sophomore Tyffani McQueen earned it once and freshman Regan Lohr was named ECAC Rookie of the Week for the first time in her career. Concluding the season, Hurst was tabbed a First-Team All-CAC member and named to the ECAC South All-Star team.
In the pool, both squads with 5-4 for the season while bringing home a handful of medals at the CAC Championships, led by junior Morgan Alston with two gold and a silver. Alston was named a CAC Champion in both the 100-yard butterfly (57.71) and 200-yard breaststroke (2:26.67), while earning a second-place finish in the 200-yard IM (2:08.24) for the second-straight year. Alston was joined on the podium by other Saints throughout the three-day championship, seeing sophomore Taylor Plumley take silver in the 500-yard freestyle (5:14.02) and senior Tyler Hayes take second in the 50-yard freestyle (21.25) for the second-straight year. Additionally, Hayes along with seniors James Gibbons and William Bryan and sophomore Trey Brown grabbed a silver in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:24.56) to set a new program record.
The Spring season was a strong way to conclude the year, seeing three teams make postseason runs. Men's volleyball was named regular-season champions of the Continental Volleyball Conference, baseball made a run in the CAC tournament, and the women's lacrosse team earned the program's first ECAC Championship.
Men's volleyball set new marks in its young program, finishing its fourth season with a 19-10 overall record, 13-1 in CVC play. Falling just once in league play all year to the eventual CVC Champions, Juniata College, the Saints earned the title of regular-season champions for the first time in program history and being named the top seed in the postseason tournament and the right to host the two-day event. Unfortunately, the season came to a close in the semifinals of the tournament to Eastern Mennonite University, 3-2. Marymount ranked in the AVCA Top 15 throughout the entire season, going as high as No. 8. Throughout the season, awards rolled in. Junior setter Erich Bratke was named CVC Player of the Week before being tabbed the program's first AVCA National Player of the Week. Junior TJ Wiechecki was named the CVC Player of the Week three times, while earning ECAC South Player of the Week twice. Freshman Sam Safley grabbed his first collegiate award as the ECAC South Rookie of the Week. At the conclusion of the season, the CVC named Wiechecki, Bratke and senior Tomasz Ksiazkiewicz All-CVC honorees while Wiechecki earned Player of the Year. All three would go onto to make appearances on the ECAC South All-Star team, and Wiechecki was named Player of the Year there as well. Wiechecki rounded out the awards being named the program's first First-Team All-American, second All-American nod in two years.
Baseball used a 9-9 league tally to earn the fifth seed in the CAC tournament, traveling to second-seeded Christopher Newport University for the first-round upset, 7-6. Junior starting pitcher Collin Bazemore and sophomore shortstop/reliever Conner Hall made their way onto the All-CAC squad, second-straight year for Bazemore.
The women's lacrosse team capped off its most successful season in program history, on its 20th year anniversary, with an ECAC Championship title. Posting the most wins in program history with 13 wins, the Saints collected three victories in the postseason including a crushing 11-3 victory in the title game over Misericordia University to bring home the championship trophy. The team was headed by All-CAC honoree juniors, Abby Wescott and Liah Agouras. Another great year on the turf for Wescott has her owning program records as follows: career points (229), career assists (138), and single-season assists (65). She was just one-point shy of taking over the single-season points with 97. Agouras was a force in the backfield, leading the CAC in ground balls (62) and caused turnovers (37), while moving up to fifth in program history in career caused turnovers with 67. Sophomore Jessica Crew led the CAC in goals with 64, leaving her just one-goal shy of 100 entering her junior season at eighth in program history.
On the academic side, men's basketball sophomore Brandon Rogers and women's lacrosse junior Kellen Cannon earned spots on the prestigious CoSIDA All-Region Academic team. To be announced at the end of the month, 110 Saints out of 227 made their way onto the CAC All-Academic team, the highest percentage (48.5) in athletic history. For men's volleyball, seven members made their way onto the 2017 All-Academic team as well.
The capstone for the year was Marymount's first-ever Saintspys, honoring the student athletes with a plethora of awards. Hosted by men's basketball senior Michael Anderson and basketball alumni Reed VanOrsdel, the athletic department awarded a handful of major awards, named all the team's MVPs and Coaches Awards, and announced the nominees for Male and Female Rookie and Player of the Years.
The honorees and nominees for Rookie and Player of the Years are listed below…
MVP: Collin Bazemore
Coaches: Jake Kniatt
MVP: Dimitri Rucker
Coaches: Brandon Rogers
Men's Cross Country
MVP: Joel Juarez
MVP: Erik Timlin
Coaches: Gannon White
MVP: Nathan Beard
Coaches: Andrew Lee
MVP: Rodney Ngoh
Coaches: Brandon Orozco
MVP: Wes Wilson
Coaches: William Bryan
MVP: Collin Chartier
MVP: TJ Wiechecki
Coaches: Alex Treser
MVP: Leah Hurst
Coaches: Maddy DeCou
Women's Cross Country
MVP: Denise Gallant
Coaches: Katie Mallony
MVP: Alessandra Bertacche
Coaches: Alexis Miller
MVP: Holly Reik
Coaches: Jessica Crew
MVP: Kirsten Campbell
Coaches: April Westmark
MVP: Morgan Alston
Coaches: Taylor Plumley
MVP: Gina Reyes
MVP: Emileigh Rettig
Coaches: Christy Tieman
Marymount Athletics Performance of the Year
Morgan Alston, Women's Swimming, CAC Championships
Marymount Athletics Breakthrough Student Athlete of the Year
Brandon Rogers, Men's Basketball
Marymount Athletics Team of the Year
James Shelton Award
Dr. B. Elizabeth Delasobera
Iron Saint Female Student Athlete of the Year
Abby Wescott, Women's Lacrosse
Iron Saint Male Student Athlete of the Year
Lorenzo Calderon, Baseball
Linda McMahon Male Scholar Athlete of the Year
Daniel Bothwell, Men's Lacrosse
Linda McMahon Female Scholar Athlete of the Year
Brooke Saunders, Women's Cross Country
Marymount Comeback Student Athlete of the Year
Nathan Valenti, Men's Lacrosse
Marymount Athletics Award for Resilience
William Bryan, Men's Swimming
Marymount SAAC Golden Cup
Male Rookie of the Year Nominees
Zachary Payne, Men's Swimming
Ibrahim Kamara, Men's Basketball
John Valcicak, Men's Soccer
John David Coffin, Men's Golf
Female Rookie of the Year Nominees
Regan Lohr, Women's Basketball
Theresa Buscemi, Women's Volleyball
Hayley Elizondo, Women's Swimming
Karen Reyes, Women's Soccer
Male Player of the Year Nominees
Rodney Ngoh, Men's Soccer
Dimitri Rucker, Men's Basketball
William Bryan, Men's Swimming
TJ Wiechecki, Men's Volleyball
Collin Chartier, Men's Triathlon
Nathan Beard, Men's Lacrosse
Conner Hall, Baseball
Female Player of the Year Nominees
Cailyn Thomas, Women's Volleyball
Leah Hurst, Women's Basketball
Morgan Alston, Women's Swimming
Abby Wescott, Women's Lacrosse
Alessandra Bertacche, Women's Golf
Earning the Award for Resilience for Marymount, William Bryan went on to be named the CAC's recipient of the Medal of Inspiration, just the fifth Saint to earn the prestigious honor dating back to the beginning of the award in 1997.
Again, it is safe to say it was a great year to be a Saint, and a great way to take on a hopeful 2017-18.