The #3 SHU women's bowling team compiled a 10-5 record and finished in third place among elite competition at the Kutztown Invitational, one of the most competitive tournaments of the season. The Pioneers posted a 2-2 record against teams currently ranked in the nation's top-five, including a victory over #1 Valparaiso in the first round of bracket play. Jackie Carbonetto (Blauvelt, NY) earned a spot on the all-tournament team, continuing her stellar season with her 216 average ranking as the third highest in the field.
Sacred Heart (47-14) opened the tournament on a down note as #1 Valparaiso took round one from the Pioneers, 828-780, in a four game baker match. However, SHU would respond in the next set with a quality victory over #6 Vanderbilt, 803-792. The Pioneers made it back-to-back "W's" with a 814-640 rout of NEC rival #17 Saint Peter's. Sacred Heart looked to be headed for a trifecta before a poor fourth game against #10 New Jersey City allowed the Gothic Knights to steal a nine pin decision.
The see-saw afternoon continued when the Pioneers rolled past #4 Maryland-Eastern Shore, 843-797. SHU has owned the defending national champions in 2011-12, compiling a 4-0 record against the Hawks. However, the red and white ended day one of the tournament with a disappointing 778-756 loss to #13 Norfolk State.
The Pioneers nipped #18 Wisconsin-Whitewater, 957-937, in the opening contest of the tournament's day two format, which consisted of only traditional team games. SHU then endured a heartbreaking three pin loss at the hands of #12 Delaware State, 937-934. However, Sacred Heart found its rhythm and closed the afternoon with four consecutive, and decisive victories, over #11 Stephen F. Austin, Howard, Southern, and Florida A&M.
Jacqueline Willy was second on the squad, 11th in the field, with a 199 average over the six games.
The Pioneers started day three with a tightly contested rematch against #1 Valparaiso as the two teams found themselves tied at 3-3 in a best of seven baker game clash. SHU emerged as the victor in the decisive seventh game, earning a spot on the tournament's semi finals. In that match Sacred Heart met up with NEC rival #2 Fairleigh Dickinson. SHU nearly forced a seventh game in that tilt but a split in the tenth frame followed by a double from the FDU anchor punched the Knights' ticket into the championship match, 4-2.
Sacred Heart again found itself fighting to the end in the event's third place contest, which pitted SHU against #6 Vanderbilt. The Pioneers triumphed in yet another seventh game to take the match, 4-3, and stake claim to third place at the Kutztown Invitational. Sacred Heart is now 4-1 in baker matches that go to a deciding seventh game.
The Pioneers resume their push for a spot in the NCAA Tournament next weekend in the second Northeast Conference meet of the season. SHU currently leads what many consider the nation's toughest conference with an 8-1 record and will look to continue its push for a second NEC crown in three years.