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  Athletics    
         
    Sports Report: Winter wrap-up

By Frank Mastrandrea ’88

Basketball (M)
Crusaders Take Step Forward In Start Of Willard Era

Despite some bumps in the road, the first season of the Ralph Willard era at Holy Cross was full of the promise of things to come. After consecutive 7-20 seasons, Willard led the 1999-2000 Crusaders to a 10-18 mark, including impressive wins against Providence and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The “bumps” in the road were located squarely in the training room, where four members of HC’s projected starting lineup spent much of the season. After a Patriot League All-Rookie season last year, 6-10 forward Patrick Whearty (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) was set to team with 7-1 center Josh Sankes to give the Crusaders a formidable front court. But after just six games—including a career-high 26 points vs. Fordham and 19 points in the win at Yale—Whearty suffered a biceps injury that ended his season. Fellow All-Rookie player Ryan Serravalle (Thorold, Ontario) began the season as HC’s starting point guard again, after being the first freshman to lead the Crusaders in scoring since Ronnie Perry. But Serravalle suffered a knee injury in game five, requiring surgery and keeping him out of action for nearly two months – and playing at less than 100 percent for the remainder of the year.
The two “veterans” of the HC starting lineup—junior Juan Pegues (Aberdeen, Md.) and Jared Curry (Braintree, Mass.)—suffered similar fates. A bad back kept Curry in and out of the lineup all season, while a fractured orbital bone kept Pegues on the sidelines for 13 games. Throw in Dekker McKeever (LaGuna Nigel, Calif.), who broke the same bone in his foot for the third time in two years after just three games, and the 1999-2000 season was clearly an uphill battle for Willard’s Crusaders.
But out of all the injury emerged opportunity. The first to pick up the gauntlet was freshman Tim Szatko (Naperville, Ill.). The freshman forward stepped into the starting lineup when the rash of injuries struck in game six and never left, going on to win the Patriot League Rookie of the Year honors. Twice, Szatko scored more than 20 points, and he ended the year second on the team in scoring, at 11.4 points per game.
Another freshman, Brian Wilson (Plainfield, N.J.) also took advantage of his opportunity. Wilson started 25 games and averaged 8.7 points per game, while leading the team with 31 steals. He was selected to the All-Patriot League Rookie Team.
Earning Second Team All-Patriot League honors does not encapsulate the kind of season the Crusaders got from 7-1 junior center Josh Sankes (Buffalo, N.Y.). The transfer student from Rutgers went from first-year starter to veteran of the starting lineup quickly as the other four starters were lost to injuries, and Sankes responded with an amazing season. He averaged a double-double (14.1 points, 11.9 rebounds) while setting a single-season Crusader record with 69 blocked shots. Sankes finished the year second in the nation in rebounding, third in double-doubles (22) … all while doing something unheard of for a big man, averaging 35.2 minutes per game.
With the entire team, save for lone senior Chris Spitler (North Buffalo, N.Y.), returning and the addition of a pair of promising freshmen, it seems the Crusaders have much to look forward to next year.

Basketball (W)
Women’S Hoop Putting Up Unprecedented Success

If you value consistency, then the Crusader women’s basketball team is your kind of team.
With this year’s 23-7 mark, the Crusaders earned their third consecutive Patriot League championship and trip to the NCAA tournament, a feat that had never before been accomplished by any other HC team.
Furthermore, senior co-captain Anna Kinne (Great Barrington, Mass.) was chosen as the Patriot League Player of the Year. In 10 years of the League’s existence, a Crusader player has now won or shared the League’s top honors every year. No other school in the nation can boast such an accomplishment.
Getting to the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in school history required a victory at Lafayette in the first round of the Patriot League tournament, and then a quick dispatching of Bucknell, 87-63, in the Patriot League final at the Hart Center. The NCAAs brought a matchup with nationally ranked Rutgers, in which the Crusaders gave the Final Four-bound Scarlet Knights all they could handle for the first 20 minutes. Kinne ignited the crowd with 19 first-half points, including six three-point field goals en route to a career-best 28 points. Rutgers was able to show its muscle in the second half, as they ended HC’s season with a 91-70 win.
This was the year that other teams in the Patriot League thought they could “get” Holy Cross. The 1998-99 squad was led by a core of three seniors—including Amy O’Brien who earned All-American honors and was the two-time Patriot League Player of the Year and the school’s second all-time leading scorer. But instead, the Crusaders were as dominant as ever, posting an 11-1 record in League play and cruising through the Patriot League tournament.
The Crusaders got the expected excellent perfomance from Kinne and fellow senior co-captain Veronica Jutras (Peterborough, N.H.). Kinne missed time because of a foot injury, but still led the team with 14.3 points and 79 steals, and led the Patriot League in assists. Jutras, who lost the League assist crown to Kinne after leading the League for three consecutive years, earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors for her role as HC’s top playmaker.
But the key to the season was the emergence of three other players: junior Monika Rothemich (North Attleboro, Mass.), sophomore Jeanette Paukert (Chicago, Ill.) and freshman Katie O’Keefe (Stratham, N.H.).
Rothemich had been a solid bench contributor in her first two seasons, averaging 2.9 points and 2.5 rebounds, but head coach Bill Gibbons asked her to step up this year, and she did. Rothemich led the team in rebounding (6.2 per game) and blocked shots (27) while averaging 10.2 points per game and being a physical force for the Crusaders.
Her physical presence allowed freshman O’Keefe to step into the center role and show her developed offense game (10.7 points per game) as well as contributing on the boards (4.7 rebounds per game). O’Keefe earned Patriot League All-Rookie team honors.
Paukert, who earned Patriot League All-Tournament honors, showed that she is ready to lead the backcourt next year with the departure of Kinne and Jutras. The sophomore averaged 11.6 points, and shot 36.1 percent from three-point range.
To those contributions, the Crusaders were able to add the 7.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game of sophomore Elisa Zawadzkas (St. Louis, Mo.), the 7.9 points of sophomore Amanda Abraham (Plymouth, Mich.) and 5.8 points and 6.0 rebounds from freshman Mary Rose Campbell (Richmond, Va.).
In recognition of HC’s season, head coach Bill Gibbons earned Patriot League Coach of the Year honors for the third time in four years, and for the fourth time in his 15 years as head coach of the Crusaders.

Swimming (M & W)
Emmons Leads Men’S Rise, Women Fight Injuries

The Crusader men’s swimming and diving teams got a big boost from the performance of freshman Mike Emmons (Middleborough, Mass.) and rode his efforts to its highest-ever point total at the Patriot League championships (220).
The Crusaders finished the season with a 3-8 dual meet record, after a 1-10 season last year. Among the three wins was a 133-110 upset of Big East foe Providence on November 20 that stands as one of the season’s highlights.
Emmons provided a number of highlights himself as he broke three school records this year, setting new marks in the 100 butterfly (:52.39) and 200 butterfly (1:54.30), and 500 freestyle (4:48.03). Emmons saved his best performances for the team’s biggest meets of the year as well, as he set both butterfly records at the Patriot League Championships, while his 500 free mark was set at the ECAC championships.
Another key to the Crusader season was the consistent diving of senior Louis Minora (Scranton, Penn.).
The women’s team posted a 5-7 dual meet record, after a 7-4 mark a year ago. But the season was marred by a pair of crucial injuries. Junior Kara Brennan (North Attleboro, Mass.) was the team’s Most Valuable Swimmer for the 1998-99 season, but this year was felled by a back injury that cost her the entire season. Fellow junior Stephanie Lawlor (Wilton, Conn.), who was chosen as the women’s Most Valuable Swimmer this year, did so only after overcoming a serious illness. Though she did not miss a single meet, Lawlor swam the entire first semester while suffering from Lyme’s disease, and only late in the season began to return to form. With Brennan and Lawlor—who will serve as captains next year with fellow senior Erin Shanahan (Haverhill, Mass.)—back at full strength, the Crusaders should return to their winning ways.
While Emmons was the men’s lone representative at the ECAC championships, sophomore Maura Malone (Shaker Heights, Ohio) handled the women’s side. She earned points at the event by placing 16th in the 100 butterfly.

Ice Hockey (M)
Defending MAAC Champions Struggle Through Injuries

The defending MAAC tournament champions faced some hard times this season, finishing with a record of 8-24-3.
A pair of injuries, one to senior Chris Fattey (Hamburg, N.Y.) and the other to sophomore goal tender Matt Smith (East Greenwich, R.I.), made it difficult for HC to overcome a tough start. Still, the Crusaders rallied late in the year to again qualify for the MAAC tournament. The Crusaders’ season ended with a loss to Mercyhurst in the tournament.
Fattey, who had been HC’s top scorer in his sophomore and junior seasons, as well as earning First Team All-MAAC honors a year ago, got off to a fast start. In a 6-2 victory over Iona on November 19, he had five assists and set MAAC records for assists in a game (5), in a period (4) and points in a game (5). But in a January 7 game against Canisius, Fattey suffered a broken wrist that was expected to cost him the remainder of his senior year. Fattey, however, returned after missing just 10 games, and while he did not lead the team in scoring (fourth, with 24 points) he did lead the team in points per game (0.96) for the third straight year.
On the heels of the Fattey injury was the loss of Smith to a broken collarbone, which did end his season. Smith had posted a 4.07 goals against average and a 86.3 save percentage. Head coach Paul Pearl turned the net-minding reins over to fellow sophomore Dan Bennett (Wilmington, Mass.). After some initial growing pains, Bennett grew into the role, finishing the year with five wins, a 4.71 GAA and an 84.3 save percentage. He was 4-2-1 in the last seven games of the season, as HC clinched a playoff spot. Included in that run was a 5-3 victory over eventual MAAC champion Connecticut, 5-3, in Storrs, Conn., on January 21 when he stopped 26 shots. Then came late-season wins against runner-up Iona (4-2 on February 26) and his first career-shutout in a 22-save performance over number two-seeded Mercyhurst (1-0 on March 3). Next season, the Crusaders will have a pair of experienced and talented goalkeepers from which to choose.
Additional players stepping up were senior Jim Whelan (Island Park, N.Y.) and freshman Brandon Doria (Bayonne, N.J.). Whelan earned Second Team All-MAAC honors in his final season as a Crusader. He was third on the team in scoring with 26 points (leading the way with 19 assists). Doria led the team in scoring (30 points) as a freshman, and earned MAAC Rookie of the Week honors late in the season, as HC wrapped up a playoff spot. His return, along with 27-point scorer sophomore Pat Rissmiller (Belmont, Mass.) and leading goal-scorer (15) Brian Askashian (Lowell, Mass.), bodes well for the future of Paul Pearl’s squad.
Another aspect of next season about which the Crusaders can be excited is that they will now be playing for a bigger prize, as the NCAA has approved an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the champion of the MAAC.

Ice Hockey (W)
Crusaders Fare Well In Debut Season

As the first new varsity sport at Holy Cross since 1983, there was no doubt that the women’s ice hockey team would take its lumps in its debut season. The surprise was how soon they were able to give as good as they got. After starting with a 6-14 record, not bad for a first-year program, the Crusaders turned it on down the stretch by winning seven of their final 10 games to finish with an impressive 13-17 mark under head coach Jane Ford. Considering that it will still be a few years before the team consists solely of recruited student-athletes, it was a fine start indeed.
A pair of freshmen led the way for the Crusaders. Jenelle DiSanto (North Reading, Mass.) and Justine Reeber (Newport, R.I.) each made an impact last year. Reeber was chosen as the team’s Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Crusaders with 12 goals, while DiSanto was chosen as the team’s Defensive Player of the Year after posting four shutouts as the team’s goalkeeper.
The next step in the evolution of the program begins next season, as the Crusaders will boast their first conference affiliation by joining the ECAC Alliance. HC will become the 18th member of the conference, which also includes Amherst, Bowdoin, Colby, Colgate, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Manhattanville, Middlebury, MIT, Rensselaer, RIT, Sacred Heart, Southern Maine, Trinity, Union, Vermont, Wesleyan and Williams.

Indoor Track & Field
Young Crusaders Showing Promise

The elevation of Jim Kavanagh to full-time status as director of track and men’s track coach and the addition of Egetta Alfonso as head women’s track coach are beginning to pay dividends, as the Crusaders had a very competitive winter season.
On the men’s side, freshman Dan Conti (Hubbardston, Mass.) was the team’s top performer with a New England qualifying 7.90 in the 55m High Hurdles, which placed him third best in the Patriot League standings. He has also jumped 13' 6" in the pole vault. Sophomore Joe Robertson (Coventry, R.I.) returned from last year’s ACL surgery and has registered a New England qualifying 14' 0" jump in the pole vault. In the distance events, freshman Sean McCarthy (Chelmsford, Mass.) ran consistently and led the team in the 3,000m with his 8:54.47 at the Dartmouth relays, while sophomore Ryan Kerrigan (Raynham, Mass.) had the best mile time with 4:29.53 and best 1,000m time with 2:33.20. The middle distance runners working with Coach Pete Mariani also had a good indoor campaign. Sophomore Jeff Boden (Skaneateles, N.Y.) covered the 800m in 1:59.59, and sophomore Pat Mahoney (Topsfield, Mass.) led the pack in the 500m at 1:08.56. Senior Kip Teamey (Klameth Falls, Ore.) was the leading horizontal jumper with a 42' 2" leap in the triple jump and a 20' 9.5" distance in the long jump.
Senior co-captain Ken Marino (Warren, RI) led a very deep 35# weight group at 50' 7.5" while junior Chris Hilson (Bovina, N.Y.) had a great first-meet throw of 47' 1" in the shot at the Boston University Terrier Cup. The team also had a presence at the prestigious Millrose Games held in early February in Madison Square Garden. Both the men’s 4 X 400m and the 4 X 800m relay teams were invited to attend.
On the women’s side, junior Melissa Cunningham (Lynn, Mass.) ran a New England qualifying 1:25.7 in the 500m at the second round of the Division I Challenge Cup at Dartmouth College on January 22. She also has the team best 800m of 2:25.2.
Senior Marguerite DoRosario (Easton, Conn.) enjoyed the highest Patriot League ranking of the HC women with her sixth place 3:11.3 performance in the 1000m run. Sophomore Emily Hogan (Northboro, Mass.) continued her excellent season, showing her range with a 3:14.1 / 1,000m and team-leading efforts in the mile with 5:18.4 and in the 3,000m with 10:30.8 (seventh ranked in the Patriot League).
In the field events, freshman Liz Liotta (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.) returned from a nagging sprained ankle to score in the triple jump with 32' 6.5" while senior co-captain Margaret Maguire (Amherst, Mass.) led the team in both the shot and in the weight throw with a best of 40'10.5". Versatile freshman Heather Bain (Carver, Mass.) was the best in the 400m and joined Hogan (1600m), Dorosario (1200m) and Cunningham (800m), to produce the season’s best time of 12:53.95 in the Distance Medley Relay.

 

 

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