The Top Ten Babson Athletics Stories of 2010
BABSON PARK, Mass. -- With the arrival of 2011, it’s time to take a look back at some of the stories and accomplishments that made 2010 one of the most successful calendar years in Babson Athletics History. In no particular order, here are the top 10 stories of 2010…
Men’s Skiing Makes Third Straight National
Despite graduating two-time All-American John Roche ’09, the 2010 version of the Babson men’s alpine ski team continued its magnificent success on the slopes. Led by senior captains Chris Jacobs and Connor Lemenze and the stellar junior tandem of Max Winthrop and Keith Vella, the Beavers finished fourth in the MacConnell Division regular season standings and earned the program’s seventh ECSC Regional Championship bid in the last eight years. There, the team placed fifth out of 12 squads to secure its third consecutive bid to the USCSA National Championships. It was the Beavers’ fifth national appearance in the last six years and the seventh in team history. At nationals, Babson would take 11th in the GS and ninth in the slalom to place 10th out of 21 teams at the championships.
Women’s Lacrosse Completes Four-Year Sweep of
NEWMAC, Makes Fourth Straight Trip To NCAAs
Now flirting with dynasty status, the Babson women’s lacrosse team continued its domination of the latter half of the decade by cruising to its fourth consecutive conference championship and earning its fourth straight NCAA Tournament berth. Recording yet another sweep of the NEWMAC regular season and tournament, the Beavers’ senior class, led by All-Americans Anna Collins and Kaitlyn Pettengill, graduated with a perfect 32-0 record against conference opponents in their four-year careers. Amazingly, Babson still had its doubters in the region, as the team was forced to hit the road for its First Round NCAA Tournament contest against Williams despite boasting a top-10 national ranking for the entire season. The Beavers promptly stunned the host Ephs in a fantastically-played game, pulling out a thrilling 8-6 victory to earn their fourth consecutive trip to the Sectional Semifinals. Babson would then fall to tournament semifinalist Gettysburg to end its spectacular season with a record of 15-4.
The 29th Annual Senior Athletics Banquet
One of the biggest highlights of every school year, the 2010 Senior Athletics Awards Banquet saw numerous athletes and campus community members receive well-deserved honors. Highlighting the event were women's lacrosse senior and three-time All-American Anna Collins, who was named Female Athlete of the Class, and men’s soccer senior and all-time assist leader Dan Fogarty, who was named Male Athlete of the Class. Women's lacrosse senior and two-time All-American Kaitlyn Pettengill and ice hockey senior Gabriel Chenard-Poirier were named Scholar-Athletes of the Class, and women's soccer senior Kayla Pomponi took home the prestigious Michael J. Conlon Award.
In addition to the senior awards, Grant Gosselin and the Undergraduate Admissions Team were the recipients of the prestigious Paul C. Staake Award for outstanding contributions to Babson Athletics, while a trio of first-year athletes were also honored. Softball first-year Megan Brain received the Lori Vengrow Award, and men’s soccer freshman Eric Anderson and ice hockey first-year PT Donato were named co-winners of the Colin "Chip" Brown Award.
The 2010 calendar year was undoubtedly one of Babson’s best ever in terms of individual award winners, as the college produced six All-Americans in five different sports – possibly the most national honorees since the incredible runs of men’s soccer, swimming and ice hockey back in the late 70s and early 80s. Women’s basketball sophomore Nicki Wurdeman was named Honorable Mention All-America by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and Third Team All-America by D3hoops.com; women’s lacrosse senior Anna Collins was named All-America First Team by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA); Collins’ teammate Kaitlyn Pettengill was named All-America Third Team by the IWLCA; men’s swimming and diving senior Aaron Paradis was named Honorable Mention All-America after placing 11th in the 3-meter diving event at the NCAA Championships; men’s soccer sophomore Eric Anderson was named All-America First Team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA); and field hockey senior Colleen Kelly was named All-America First Team by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA). Collins, Wurdeman, Anderson, and Kelly were also named NEWMAC Player of the Year in their respective sports.
National recognition wasn’t limited to what took place between the lines, as Babson athletes received numerous awards for their efforts in the classroom. Both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams received Scholar All-America honors from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs each garnered Team All-Academic status from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA), and alpine skiing junior Max Winthrop was named Honorable Mention Academic All-America by the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA).
Margel Makes Women’s Cross Country History
With so much success by Babson’s female athletes and teams in higher-profile sports like basketball and lacrosse, one of the year’s most impressive performances may have gone largely unnoticed. It was turned in by a young woman named Charlotte Margel, who took the Babson running world by storm in 2010. She began by turning in a spectacular freshman season on the track, where her top times in both the 1500 and 5000 meters placed her among the top five on the program’s all-time lists for those events. However, her best event was the grueling 10000 meter run, where she qualified for both the NCAA Division III New England and ECAC Championships. Although she would miss All-New England honors at the NCAA Regionals, her performance there was incredible for a first-year, as she completed the event in 39:59.91 – the second-fastest 10000 meter time in Babson history. Margel then carried her momentum into this fall’s cross country season, where she posted three top-10 finishes, including her first career victory at the Emmanuel College Invitational when she blew away a field of 175 runners by no less than 47 seconds. She went on to finish 11th at the NEWMAC Championships, making her the first female in program history to earn All-Conference honors in multiple seasons, and in doing so she set the stage for the greatest performance of her young collegiate career. Competing at the 2010 NCAA Division III New England Championships, she became just the second Babson College runner overall and the first female in school history to earn All-New England honors when she placed 30th out of 336 competitors in the region. She finished the 6k event with a program record time of 23:17.20, which was nearly 50 seconds faster than her previous best and nine seconds quicker than the former school mark set by Claudia Schulz three years earlier.
Reardon and Rice Earn Their 100th Career Wins
This year saw a pair of outstanding Babson coaches reach the 100-win mark. The first was Kully Reardon, who achieved the milestone in her ninth season at the helm of the women’s lacrosse program. Having transformed Babson’s lacrosse team into a national powerhouse, Reardon guided the Beavers to their fourth straight NEWMAC Championship, and along the way picked up victory number 100 in her squad’s 16-7 blowout of MIT in the conference semifinals.
After guiding his alma mater all the way to ECAC East Championship Game, head ice hockey coach Jamie Rice ’90 finished the 2009-10 season just one win shy of the 100-win mark. He then wasted little time in reaching the milestone in his seventh season behind the bench, as he coached Babson to a 5-4 victory at Colby to open the 2010-11 campaign. Like Reardon, Rice has been instrumental in his program’s success, leading the Beavers to conference championships and NCAA Tournament berths in 2007 and 2009.
Men’s Soccer Claims Third Straight NEWMAC
Championship and NCAA Tourney Bid
The College’s flagship program since the early 1970s, men’s soccer continued its recent run of success by claiming yet another NEWMAC title this fall and extending its conference unbeaten streak to 24 games. It was the third straight conference championship for the Beavers, who secured their school-leading 22nd bid to the NCAA Tournament. However, it was the Beavers’ postseason run that would truly set this season apart from the previous two. First, Babson rallied from a 1-0 deficit to stun Wheaton, 2-1, on Eric Anderson’s game-winning header in double-overtime of the NEWMAC Championship Game. The team then exploded past Salem State, 4-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tourney, setting up a legendary battle with host Williams in the second round.
Having lost to the Ephs, 3-1, in their regular season meeting back on September 19, the Beavers were seeking the sweetest kind of revenge this time around. Williams jumped in front with an early goal, but an own goal forced by Babson’s offensive pressure evened the score at the 32-minute mark. From there, the contest turned into a battle of wills, as neither team’s defense would yield for more than 70 minutes. The game eventually ended in double overtime, when Anderson headed Max Walker’s corner kick to the left side of the goal mouth, where sophomore Ayo Iwuagwu swooped in and headed it inside the post for the game-winner at 108:34. Iwuagwu then darted for the left corner flag, where he was tackled and mobbed by a combination of his teammates and Babson fans who attended the game. The Beavers would eventually lose a hard-fought contest to Middlebury, 1-0, in the Sectional Semifinals at Bowdoin the following week, but the team’s postseason heroics will live on for many years to come.
A Year To Remember For Jon Anderson
Few individuals will cherish the 2010 athletics year more than Babson alumnus Jon Anderson ’75. In his 25th season as head coach of the men’s soccer program that he himself helped raise to national prominence back in 1975, Anderson guided his team to yet another spectacular season. The team finished the year with a record of 16-4-2, advanced to the Sectional Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, and earned a final ranking of 14th in the NSCAA/Hendrixcars.com national poll. Even better, his star player was none other than his youngest son Eric, who was named NEWMAC Player of the Year, ECAC New England Offensive Player of the Year, and NSCAA All-America First Team – making him the only sophomore in the country to garner First Team status. On top of that, Jon’s daughter Emily was a key member of the Babson women’s soccer team, which posted its best regular season conference finish since 1997 and made only its second NEWMAC Finals appearance since 1998.
But the event that best highlighted Anderson’s brilliant coaching success this season came on November 13, less than a week after he guided the Beavers to a 2-1 double OT win over Wheaton and the program’s third straight NEWMAC Championship. Playing against former longtime assistant coach Don Goodwin and his Salem State Vikings in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Anderson calmly guided his squad to an impressive 4-1 victory – a brief respite in an otherwise heart-stopping postseason run. It was his team’s 15th win of the year and it marked the 300th victory in Anderson’s incredible coaching career. Looking at his overall body of work, the numbers are jaw-dropping. In 25 seasons, Anderson’s teams have finished .500 or below just three times (one of those was his first season as coach). In addition, his squads have won at least 10 games on 19 occasions, including seven seasons of at least 15 victories. Under his charge, the program has won 10 conference championships, made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, and collected a total of 16 All-American awards. Anderson has been named Conference Coach of the Year eight times and regional Coach of the Year twice.
A Historic Season For Field Hockey
For Julie Ryan’s field hockey program, 2010 was the year everything came together. From the very start, Ryan recognized that this year’s team was special. Her two captains, seniors Colleen Kelly and Sarah Fredlund, were not only outstanding leaders, but also two of the top players to ever put on a Babson uniform. She had an incredibly talented goalkeeper in junior Jess Pashos, a veteran backfield, a deep and able bench, and a young recruit named Morgan Lockwood, who would turn out to be arguably the nation’s best Division III freshman.
While the talent was ever present, the secret to Babson’s success this fall may have been Ryan’s scheduling strategy. Of the team’s 10 non-conference games, four were against nationally-ranked programs, including NESCAC powerhouses Middlebury (#8), Tufts (#3), and Amherst (#18). Although the Beavers lost to all four (two by only one goal), the contests exposed Ryan’s team to a whole new level of competition. Once conference play rolled around, Babson had seen just about everything the opposition could throw at them, and it paid immediate dividends. The Beavers went a perfect 8-0 in NEWMAC play for just the second time in team history, earning the number one seed and a first-round bye in the conference tournament. Babson then edged Springfield, 1-0, in the semifinals before trouncing MIT, 6-1, in the finals to earn the program’s first-ever conference championship and its second NCAA Tournament berth. The Beavers would go on to beat Husson, 4-3, in the first round at home before falling to eventual national champion Bowdoin in the Sectional Semifinals.
The individual awards rolled in like never before. Ryan was
named New England East Coach of the Year, Kelly was named New
England East Player of the Year and All-America First Team, and
Fredlund, Pashos, Lockwood, and two others joined her with
All-Region honors. The country’s top scoring first-year with
26 goals and 59 points, Lockwood was named NEWMAC and ECAC New
England Rookie of the Year, while Fredlund and Kelly finished their
careers in second and fourth place, respectively, on the
program’s all-time points list. Kelly’s 42 career
assists is the most ever by a Babson field hockey player, and
Fredlund’s 59 goals is second most in program history.
Women’s Basketball Takes Their Game To A Whole New Level
Oh what a year for the Babson College women’s basketball program. Coming off their fourth conference championship in 2009, the team faced some uncertainty in 2010. Their incredibly young and talented roster was back in full force, but they had undoubtedly caught many teams by surprise with their postseason run a year earlier. How this group would respond to the sky-high expectations now facing them would determine not only their legitimacy as an NEWMAC Championship contender, but also their place in the highly-competitive world of Division III college basketball.
Head coach Judy Blinstrub’s squad entered the 2010 calendar year with a stellar record of 7-1, but they stumbled early by dropping just their second contest of second semester, 73-63, to Eastern Connecticut State in the title game of the Williams Invitational Tournament. The date was January 4. Babson wouldn’t lose again until mid-March.
Featuring their own version of “The Big Three” – sophomore forwards Nicki Wurdeman and Kathleen King and first-year center Sarah Collins – the Beavers presented absolute match-up nightmares for virtually every team they faced. All three boasted tremendous size, scoring ability, passing prowess, and uncanny court sense. Furthermore, Wurdeman could step outside and drain more than 40 percent of her three-point attempts, King could shut down virtually any opposing player at the defensive end, and Collins’ incredible shot-blocking ability enabled the team’s lightning-quick guards like Becky Bowman and Allanah Wynn to fearlessly gamble on steals. The combination was basically unstoppable, as Babson rattled off a program-record 20 straight victories. Along the way, the Beavers completed the NEWMAC’s first-ever 22-0 regular season and then added three more wins in the conference tournament to claim their second straight NEWMAC Championship and NCAA Tournament bid.
Unfortunately, despite sporting five teams with at least 14 wins, NEWMAC women’s hoops drew little respect outside the conference. As a result, Babson was eyed by many with great skepticism heading into the national tourney. Simply put, with 17 straight league games since the team’s non-conference loss to Eastern Connecticut, no one, including Blinstrub herself, was sure how the Beavers would match up against the rest of the country’s elite.
The answer came quickly and in thrilling fashion. Shipped off to Waterville, Maine for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Babson opened with a commanding 76-56 win over perennial New England power Emmanuel College in the opening round (although it should be noted that the Saints lost their best player to injury early on in the contest and never fully recovered from the blow). That set up one of the greatest games in Babson women’s basketball history, as the Green and White faced off against host Colby in the second round. Tied at 59-59 after regulation and then again at 68-68 after the first overtime period, the contest was finally decided in double OT. Despite battling a ferociously competitive Mule squad as well as a hostile crowd, Wurdeman, King, and Collins all posted double-doubles in leading Babson to an amazing 76-73 road victory. With that, the Beavers moved on to the Sweet 16 for just the third time in team history.
Battle tested at last, Babson headed to Amherst College to take on Gettysburg in the Sectional Semifinals. There, the team notched their second straight overtime win, 71-68, thanks to 21 points and 10 boards from Wurdeman. The Beavers’ magical season then came to an end in their first-ever appearance in the Elite 8, as undefeated host Amherst pulled away late for an 80-65 win and a trip to the National Semifinals. For the Beavers, their 28-4 record and incredible postseason run resulted in a wealth of postseason honors, as Wurdeman was named NEWMAC Player of the Year, Honorable Mention All-America by the WBCA, and Third Team All-America by D3hoops.com, King joined her classmate on the All-Conference First Team, Collins was named NEWMAC Rookie of the Year, and Blinstrub garnered both NEWMAC and New England Coach of the Year honors.
Of course, 2010 wasn’t quite over for the Beavers. Opening the 2010-11 season ranked 13th in the nation by D3hoops.com, Babson quickly vaulted to as high as sixth in the national rankings, thanks in part to a thrilling 82-76 overtime win over #22 Western Connecticut State in the title game of the Babson Invitational Tournament presented by Reebok. The team later won a pair of tough contests at the Las Vegas Hoopla event in mid-December, sending the Beavers into the holiday break with a perfect mark of 10-0 and a national ranking of eighth in D3hoops.com’s final poll of the calendar year. As a result, the Babson women’s basketball team’s overall record in 2010 was an astounding 31-2.
On behalf of the entire Babson Athletics Department, Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2011 brings health, happiness, and even more success for the Beavers!