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Eastern Connecticut State Wins LEC Commissioner’s Cup

Eastern Connecticut State Wins LEC Commissioner’s Cup

PAWTUCKET, R.I. – For the first time in the 17-year history of the Little East Conference Commissioner’s Cup, the Eastern Connecticut State Warriors claimed the league’s top honor for overall institutional performance on the competitive playing field. The Warriors accumulated a point average of 5.735 in the 2016-17 season. The historic win for the Warriors brings an end to the 16-year Commissioner’s Cup win streak by Keene State College. The Warriors won four outright regular season titles and claimed a share of the unprecedented four-way tie for the softball regular season title.

“To finally wrestle this away from Keene State is a testament to the dedication of the coaches and student-athletes at Eastern. This isn’t an honor reflecting only performances this year, it is another example of the tradition of excellence in Eastern athletics,” said Lori Runksmeier, Director of Athletics at Eastern Connecticut State. “I am proud of the hard work our coaches and student-athletes put into everything they do and by winning the Little East Conference’s Presidents’ Cup (highest departmental GPA) in each of the past two years, and now winning the Commissioner’s Cup makes it a great day to be a Warrior.”

The Commissioner’s Cup measures the overall performance of the league’s eight primary institutions in the LEC’s 19 sponsored sports. For sports in which the conference conducts in-season play (baseball, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball), points are determined by the ranked order of finish in the final regular season standings. For sports that do not conduct in-season play (cross country, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, swimming and diving), points are awarded based on the order of finish in the conference championship meet.

“Congratulations to the Eastern Connecticut State University administration, coaches and student-athletes on earning their first Commissioner's Cup (the LEC's highest athletic award),” said Little East Commissioner Cora H. Brumley. “The Warriors exemplify the NCAA Division III philosophy by excelling both on and off the field of play and are ushering in a new era of competitiveness in the LEC!”  

Eastern Connecticut State and its student-athletes experienced consistent success throughout the entire 2016-17 season. The Warriors finished inside the top-4 in 12 of the 17 sports that are sponsored by Eastern Connecticut State, including overall regular season championships in women’s soccer, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s lacrosse and claimed a share of the regular season title in softball. The overall consistency among all of its athletic programs ensured the Warriors claimed its first Little East Conference Commissioner’s Cup in program history.

The Warriors’ women’s soccer program claimed its second straight LEC regular season title as they finished with a 6-0-1 LEC record in 2016. The Warriors remain unbeaten in LEC play over the last 14 games, tallying a 13-0-1 conference record. Individual success on the pitch helped Emmanuel Caicedo of the Warriors’ men’s soccer program earn LEC Defensive Player of the Year honors as he led his team to a third place finish and a spot in the men’s soccer tournament.

The Warrior’s had the most successful winter season among all LEC institutions as the men’s and women’s basketball programs swept the regular season championships for the third consecutive year. The men’s basketball program finished the regular season with a 21-9, 11-3 LEC record and captured all of the LEC major awards as the coaches voted senior Hug Lindo the 2017 LEC Player of the Year and the LEC Defensive Player of the Year. Freshmen Carlos Gonzalez was named the LEC Rookie of the Year and 15th year head coach Bill Geitner was named the LEC Coach of the Year. The women’s basketball top freshmen, Mya Villard also garnered 2017 LEC Rookie of the Year honors. The swimming and diving program claimed its eighth straight second place at the Little East Conference championships with 288 points. 

The Warriors spring season welcomed a women’s lacrosse regular season championship and earned a share of softball title by sweeping Western Connecticut State on the final day of the season and forced the unprecedented four-way tie. The women’s lacrosse program completed an undefeated LEC season, finishing with a 6-0 regular season record and senior Devyne Doran was named the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Christine Hutchison was named LEC Coach of the Year. The Warriors baseball program finished fourth in the regular season and senior Alex Zachary was named the LEC baseball Player of the Year after finishing near the top of all major offensive categories. 

Keene State College finished second in the Commissioner’s Cup standings, ending its 16-consecutive win streak. The Owls accumulated a 5.500-point average with its program’s four regular season championships and four runner-up finishes in its 17 sponsored sports. The Owls continued to have a successful fall season, winning its fourth straight regular season and tournament championship in field hockey. Senior Sami Smith repeated as the LEC Offensive Player of the Year as she had the best offensive season in program history, scoring 36 goals and 13 assists for 90 points. Smith also broke the single-season marks for goals and points as well as career records with 85 goals and 213 points. The Owls’ women’s cross country program won its 17th straight LEC championship behind LEC’s overall women’s champion, Lindsay Szuch (18:02.74). 

Keene State won its 11th straight swimming and diving championship as junior Hope Walsh broke three Little East Conference Championship records. The men’s and women’s basketball programs earned the No. 2 seeds in their respectively championship tournaments with the women’s program winning its first tournament championship in program history.

The Owls’ men’s lacrosse program continued to dominate the Little East and extended its LEC winning streak to 40 games, with their last conference loss occurring in 2012. The Owls went on to win its fourth straight LEC tournament title, defeating UMass Boston 28-11. 

The UMass Boston Beacons earned its best finish in the history of the Commissioner’s Cup, placing third with a 5.000-point average as a result of one of the most successful spring season’s in program history. In the six spring sports sponsored by UMass Boston, the Beacons earned two regular season championships (men’s tennis, softball), two runner-up finishes (baseball, men’s lacrosse) and two third place finishes (men’s and women’s outdoor track and field). The Beacons spring point average of 6.75 is the best among all fall, winter and spring seasons results.

The men’s lacrosse program reached new heights, finishing with a program best 5-2 LEC record and head coach Tyler Low was honored as the league’s Coach of the Year. The softball program also had a historic season and lived up to its preseason expectations, claiming a share of the regular season title before winning its first-ever LEC tournament title. The Beacons softball program was led by the LEC Player of the Year, Roxanne Vento and the LEC Pitcher of the Year, Jess Greenspan.

Vento put together one of the most impressive offensive seasons in program history as she broke the program record for doubles and runs batted in in a single season. Vento led the Little East with a .449 batting average, 42 runs batted in, 61 hits and 18 doubles. Greenspan led the Little East with 21 wins, 113 strikeouts and three saves.

The Beacons baseball program finished second in the regular season before winning the 2017 LEC tournament and have since claimed a spot in the NCAA Division III Baseball College World Series in Appleton, Wisconsin after sweeping the NCAA New England Regional, defeating Penn State-Berks, Babson (twice) and Suffolk. 

The Beacons won a share of the LEC men’s soccer regular season championship for the second time in three seasons, finishing with a 5-1-1 LEC record (18-2-3 overall) before winning its third straight LEC tournament championship. The Beacons continued its program dominance in volleyball, winning its eight consecutive LEC regular season title, finishing the season with a 23-3, 7-0 LEC record. The volleyball senior class accumulated a 27-1 all-time LEC record over their four-year careers.

UMass Dartmouth placed fourth in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup standings with a 4.842-point average for the 2016-17 season. The Corsairs season was highlighted by the success of its men’s and women’s basketball programs. The women’s program finished tied for second place with Keene State and earned an At-Large bid to the NCAA Regionals, reaching the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. The men’s program claimed third place and finished with a 17-10, 9-5 LEC record.

The Corsairs women’s tennis program finished with a 10-5, 6-2 LEC record, the programs best finish since finishing the 2012 season with a 7-1 LEC record. Jenna Lahaie earned All-LEC First Team Singles honors as a result of her play as the team’s No.1 seed in singles play.

UMass Dartmouth’s men’s outdoor track and field program placed second at the 2017 LEC Championships behind the success of Jared Louf-Woods and Steve Tencati both winning their respective field events. Tencati won the men’s javelin throw with a distance of 60.66 meters and Louf-Woods won the men’s hammer throw at 55.19 meters. Freshman George Papoulis won the 800 meter run in 1:54.13.  The baseball program earned the No.3 seed after a 25-20, 9-5 LEC record and had four individuals earn All-LEC Second Team honors on their way to make an appearance in the LEC tournament title game against the Beacons. 

The Southern Maine Huskies finished fifth in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup standings with six Little East Conference championships in men’s cross country, men’s indoor track and field, women’s indoor track and field, baseball, men’s outdoor track and field and women’s outdoor track and field. The Huskies’ men’s cross country and track and field program swept all three titles (CC, ITF, OTF) in the same academic year for the second time in school history (2009-10). The women’s track and field program placed second in the cross country championships and then dominated the indoor and outdoor track and field championships. The Huskies have now won 17 consecutive New England Alliance and Little East Conference indoor track and field championships and they have won their 18th consecutive Little East Conference outdoor track and field championship.

The Huskies finished up the 2016-17 year with a LEC regular season championship in baseball. Southern Maine has won or shared the LEC regular-season title 12 times in the last 21 seasons of LEC baseball and were led by the 2017 LEC Rookie of the Year, Dylan Hapworth and All-LEC First Team performers, sophomore pitcher, Dalton Rice and sophomore utility/relief pitcher, second basemen, Jake Dexter. Head coach Ed Flaherty was named the LEC Coach of the Year.

Plymouth State University placed sixth in the final Commissioner’s Cup standings. The Panthers hosted the LEC softball tournament as the number one overall seed, stemming from a four-way tie and advanced to the championship series against UMass Boston. The Panthers also accumulated second place finishes in women’s lacrosse, field hockey and volleyball. Volleyball advanced to the LEC tournament match before falling to the dominant UMass Boston program.

Western Connecticut State finished seventh in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup standings, led by the Colonials’ softball program and its share of the 2017 regular season title. Softball’s standout freshman shortstop, Charline Plasczynski was named the 2017 LEC Rookie of the Year. The women’s soccer program finished third in the regular season standings behind the two-time LEC Offensive Player of the Year, Autumn Sorice. Sorice was the LEC league leader with 25 goals, 12 assists and 62 total points and was instrumental for the Colonials as they won their second straight Little East tournament championship. 

Rounding out the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup, Rhode Island College claimed a pair of Little East Championships in the fall and three second place finishes in women’s indoor and outdoor track and field and men’s tennis. The men’s soccer program tied for the best record (5-1-1) and were led by Komla Dogbey’s 15 goals, eight assists and 38 points. Goalkeeper Chris Moura recorded a 1.07 goals-against average as the Anchormen advanced to the LEC Championship match against rival UMass Boston for the second straight season. The women’s track and field programs reached new heights as both the indoor and outdoor programs placed a program best second place. Sophomore Melanie Brunelle was named the 2017 LEC women’s indoor field athlete of the year after winning the triple jump and a pair of top-3 finishes in the high jump and long jump. Brunelle followed up a successful indoor season with a successful outdoor season, winning the high jump and set a new LEC record in the triple jump and Brunelle earned the 2017 outdoor field athlete of the year honors.

The Rhode Island College women’s tennis program finished first in the LEC standings their top-seeded student-athlete, Dayna Reilly was named LEC Player of the Year after finishing the season with a 14-1 overall record and was undefeated against LEC competitors.

The historic competitive success the LEC has achieved throughout the 30 years, beginning as a basketball only conference in 1986 and expanding into today’s 19-Championship Sport Conference, will continue to make academic and athletic strides as the LEC continues to be the premier Division III conference of the New England region. 

The Little East Conference was formed in 1986 when six public institutions gathered to create a single sport athletic conference and has expanded into what is now New England’s premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. The LEC features 19 Championship Sports and sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes while following the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.

Institution Points Average
1. Eastern Connecticut State 5.735
2. Keene State College 5.500
3. UMass Boston 5.000
4. UMass Dartmouth 4.842
5. Southern Maine 4.833
6. Plymouth State 4.583
7. Western Connecticut State 4.269
8. Rhode Island College 4.000