May 18, 2009
Fairfield, Conn. (May 18, 2009) - For the second-consecutive year, the Sacred Heart University athletic program has been awarded the Northeast Conference Commissioner's Cup winning the 2008-09 title on the strength of five league championships this season. In addition, Sacred Heart won the NEC Women's Cup Championship for the third-straight year and for the first time in program history won the NEC Men's Cup Championship as well, sweeping all three awards. The Pioneers posted the highest point total in NEC Overall Commissioner Cup history with 244.07 points and in NEC Women's Cup history with 140.85 points.
The 2008-09 season at Sacred Heart included NEC Championships in women's basketball, women's lacrosse, men's golf, men's tennis and softball. The 2009 women's lacrosse and men's golf teams became the first programs at Sacred Heart to earn back-to-back NEC Championships while the men's tennis team and softball team took home their first-ever NEC titles this spring. The Pioneers finished among the top-three in the final NEC standings in women's and men's cross country, field hockey, football, women's indoor track & field, men's and women's outdoor track & field, men's basketball, baseball, women's tennis and women's golf.
"Winning the overall Northeast Conference Commissioner's Cup is a special capstone achievement for Sacred Heart University," commented Athletic Director C. Donald Cook. "Winning in both the men's and women's categories just adds an extra measure of satisfaction to what was an immensely satisfying accomplishment a year ago when the University won its first overall Commissioner's Cup. This year's sweep of all three categories (men, women, overall), including, setting a new NEC record for overall and women's points is the wonderful validation of hard work and dedication at every level of the University."
Sacred Heart's 244.07 total points delivers the Pioneers the 2008-09 Cup over Monmouth University in second place (199.55) and Long Island University in third (171.62). Quinnipiac University finished in fourth place (162.01), Saint Francis-PA University took fifth (161.57), Central Connecticut State University was sixth (158.45) and Robert Morris University finished seventh (157.25). Mount St. Mary's University placed eighth (150.30), Fairleigh Dickinson University finished ninth (134.26), Wagner College was 10th (119.94) and St. Francis-NY College rounded out the field in 11th (74.76).
The Pioneers claimed the university's first Commissioner's Cup last season with 219.01 points, topping Monmouth to snap the Hawks' four-year lock on the Cup. This year's 244.07 total points sets the new standard with UMBC's 222.09 in 2000-01 and Monmouth's 220.37 in 2006-07 next in line. Last year's winning point total is now the fourth-highest Cup point total for a winner.
For the first time since the 2001-02 campaign, the men's Cup will be headed somewhere other then Monmouth University as the Pioneers edged out the Hawks, 103.22 to 96.66. The race came down to this past weekend with the Pioneer baseball team finishing second in the final standings and the Hawks fourth heading into this coming weekend's NEC Baseball Tournament at New Britain Stadium.
This season's women's Cup title is the fourth in program history (2008-09, 2007-08, 2006-07, 2003-04) while their 140.85 points marks the highest point total by a NEC women's program in the history of the Cup. The previous record was held by UMBC in 2001-02 with 131.17 points.
The women's hoop team won the NEC Regular Season Championship this season by rattling off an 18-0 conference mark, becoming just the third team in league history to accomplish the feat. After earning a share of the regular season title for the second-straight year, the women's lacrosse team earned the #1 seed and right to host the league tournament for the first time in program history. The softball team made the most of their first-ever NEC Tournament appearance, ripping off three-straight wins in the playoffs to claim the title. This season also saw three student-athletes earn NEC Player of the Year honors in their respective sports as sophomore Alisa Apo (Freehold, NJ) of the women's basketball team, senior Amanda Williams (Monroe, CT) of the women's lacrosse team and senior Patrick Fillian (Tinton Falls, NJ) of the men's golf team took home the award. In addition, six coaches were named NEC Coach of the Year this season in head women's basketball coach Ed Swanson, head women's lacrosse coach Laura Cook, head men's golf coach Ed Connolly, head women's golf coach Matt McGreevy, co-head softball coaches Elizabeth Luckie and Pam London and head men's tennis coach Paul Gagliardi.
Sacred Heart is completing its 10th season of competition on the Division I level and in the Northeast Conference. The Pioneer athletic program has won 16 Northeast Conference Championships during that time span with 10 coming in the last two years of competition. The women's basketball (2006, 2009), women's lacrosse (2008, 2009) and men's golf programs (2008, 2009) have each claimed two titles each. The women soccer (2001), football (2001), women's cross country (2005), field hockey (2005), baseball (2006), men's indoor track & field (2008), men's outdoor track & field (2008), women's outdoor track & field (2008), men's tennis (2009) and softball (2009) have also claimed titles to give the SHU athletic program NEC championships in 13 of the 22 sports sponsored by the league.
The NEC Commissioner's Cup was instituted during the 1986-87 season with Long Island winning the inaugural award. Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth lead all NEC schools with six Cups to their credit. Cup points are awarded in each NEC sponsored sport. For men's and women's basketball, women's bowling, men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball, football, softball, field hockey, women's lacrosse and baseball, the final regular season standings are used to determine Cup points. In all other sports, points are awarded based on the finish at NEC Championship events.