Union's student-athletes and coaches once again turned in a performance to be proud of during the recently concluded 2002-03 intercollegiate athletic season. The 25 Garnet teams combined for an overall record of 178-165-8, a winning percentage of .520. The Dutchmen and Dutchwomen combined for a record of 42-36-5 (.536) against Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association rivals. Individually, more than 75 student-athletes were recognized for their accomplishments in the classroom and on the fields of play, 60 of whom qualified for the UCAA's All-Academic team (which requires upperclassmen to maintain at least 3.2 cumulative grade point average).
The women's teams had an outstanding season, combining for an overall record of 115-77-2 (a winning percentage of .595).
On top of all that success, Union advanced its position in the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) standings by moving from last year's finish of 60th to a program-record 57th place finish.
The Dutchwomen were represented at the NCAA's by the soccer, volleyball and softball teams while lacrosse won the New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association championship for the second time in the last three seasons. Basketball earned its second trip to the ECAC postseason tournament in the last three years.
“I am extremely excited by the accomp- lishments of our women's programs this year, especially considering the young teams that these coaches were working with,”said
Athletic Director Val Belmonte.
“We had two teams (volleyball and softball) qualify for their first NCAA tournament, women's soccer made it four straight years in the NCAAs and women's basketball posted the best record in the school's history. In addition, the women's lacrosse team won the New York State title. With the young talent that these teams have the future looks bright for all of these teams.”
Union had three of its student-athletes capture All-American awards. Sophomore Elliot Seguin (swimming),
junior Sean Washington (indoor track), and senior Justin Sievert (outdoor track) each earned the national honor. Meanwhile,
junior tennis star, Lauren Stellato, became the first Dutchwoman since 1983 to win the New York States No. 1 Singles Championship. Stellato, who finished at 19-3 this season, holds the program's all-time record at 56-11, all from the No. 1 position.
“To be honored as an All-American is the highest level of recognition possible at the collegiate level,” Belmonte explained. “Justin Sievert, Sean Washington and Elliot Seguin should be extremely proud of what they accomplished this year. Their hard work and dedication to their sport, teammates and coaches was rewarded with this very special honor and they have set the bar high for future Union student-athletes to strive for.”
The efforts of Union's coaches did not go unnoticed by their peers as women's basketball coach Mary Ellen Burt and
softball coach Peter Brown both were selected as the UCAA's “Coach of the Year” in their respective sports.
“What a great year,” said Belmonte. “Three NCAA teams, three All-Americans, our first state tennis champion in the last 20 years (from the No. 1 position), numerous all-conference award winners, two coaches of the year, the first Division I home playoff hockey series in the school's history…where do you start when telling the story of the 2002-2003 year of Union Athletics?”
Women's soccer, which won both the UCAA regular-season title as well as the conference's postseason tournament, qualified for its fourth consecutive NCAA championship while volleyball, which went to the ECAC tournament for the first time last year, earned its first-ever trip to the national event. Softball, which won its only state title two
two years ago and finished third in the NYSWCAA event last season, also made its first trip to the NCAA event, advancing to the championship game of the Eastern Regional against top-seeded, and home standing, Cortland State. The tennis team set a program standard by finishing third in the state event.
Basketball (22-5 and winners of its first 15 games) set a Union record for wins in a season while softball (26-7) tied the program record first set in 1999. Volleyball was the college's other 20-game winner, posting a standard of 23-11, just missing the single-season record of 25 established in 2001. Hockey, in just its fourth season as a varsity sport, established a program record with its 11 wins while lacrosse (11-5) and soccer (14-5-1) also turned in double digit winning seasons. Meanwhile, the varsity 4+ crew team captured second place in the New York State championships.
On the men's side of the ledger, basketball put together its fifth consecutive winning season for the first time in over 23 years. The Dutchmen (17-12) finished second in both the UCAA's regular-season and championship tournament despite losing four starters from last season's 21-8 team that qualified for the NCAA tournament. While missing out on the national party this year, the Dutchmen were invited to the ECAC event as they qualified for their fourth postseason tournament in the last five years.
The soccer team continued its resurgence as the Dutchmen put together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 1992 and 1993 season. The Garnet's 2002 record of 9-7-2 came on the heels of the 10-7 mark of the 2001 team. Union missed a chance to compete in the UCAA championship tournament when it suffered a 1-0 upset loss in the regular-season finale.
The swim team, meanwhile, finished 14th of 46 teams in the three-day NCAA meet by scoring 91 points. Union earned two All-American honors and came away with six honorable mention All-American awards. This marks the second consecutive year that the Dutchmen have improved their position at the NCAA meet. Last season Union finished 21st as the Dutchmen scored 45.6 points by capturing six honorable mention awards.
The hockey team, meanwhile, finished sixth in the ECAC and hosted the first league playoff games in the Dutchmen's 12-year history at the Division I level.
Individually, 60 student-athletes were named to the UCAA All-Academic team by maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or better (freshmen were not eligible). The men and women's hockey teams, which compete in the ECAC, combined to place 16 student-athletes on the All-Academic squad.
“Our coaches and student-athletes should take pride in the fact that so many of our “student-athletes” lived up to the expectations of that prestigious title,” said
Belmonte. “When you include All-UCAA and All-ECAC All-Academic selections, more than 75 of our student- athletes were honored, that is amazing considering the time commitment of playing competitive varsity sports and the academic challenges that face Union students each day.”
A total of 51 student-athletes were selected to the UCAA All-Conference teams with 27 of those athletes voted to the First Team. Highlighting those selections were:
- senior lacrosse player Nina Mandel (who was the UCAA's co-Player of the Year)
Justin Sievert (MVP and event champion for both the indoor and outdoor track)
- senior swimmer
Ridgley Harrison (Swimmer of the Meet)
- freshman basketball player John Cangianello (Rookie of the Year)
- freshman basketball player
Erika Eisenhut (Rookie of the Year)
- softball pitcher/first base, freshman
Abby Arceneaux (Rookie of the Year)
Several coaching milestones were reached this year as sixth-year softball coach Peter Brown picked up his 130th win. Meanwhile,
men's basketball coach Bob Montana (who completed his seventh season) and
women's soccer coach Brian Speck (who finished his eighth season) each posted their 101st career victory. Head
football coach John Audino, who has been at the helm the last 11 years, tied the college record for coaching victories with his 86th win while
volleyball head coach Sandy Collins, who has been at Union the last three years, surpassed 75 career wins and posted her 66th Union victory while leading the Dutchwomen to back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time ever. Her Dutchwomen won 25 games in 2001 and 23 games last fall.