May 30, 2012

2011-12 Year In Review

The Brandeis Athletic Department had a fine year in 2011-12. Here’s a look back at some of the highlights, along with some images from each season.

FALL 2011

The season outlook in the fall was bright, as the women’s soccer and men’s cross country teams earned early-season national rankings. Women’s soccer peaked at No. 18 after a 2-0 start that included a revenge win over MIT on Sept. 3, while men’s cross country reached No. 29 on the strength of a second-place finish at UMass Dartmouth on Sept. 17. While neither of those teams were able to keep up its momentum throughout the campaign, the Judges still found success on the cross country courses and on the soccer pitch.

The cross country teams were bolstered by three outstanding seniors. For the men, Chris Brown ’12 and Marc Boutin ’12 each earned All-New England Division III honors for the fourth year in a row, though they were unable to carry their team to nationals for the fourth time as well. Classmate Kate Warwick ’12 was able to kick off a fantastic year by placing 14th at the regional championships and earn her first career berth at the NCAA championships. Warwick placed 48th at nationals, making a strong push in the race’s final mile to come up about 12 seconds shy of All-America honors.

Meanwhile, on the soccer field, it was the Brandeis men who won their second-consecutive Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III title while boasting one of the top defenses in the nation. Coach Mike Coven, in his 39th season on the sidelines, guided the Judges to their best season in more than 15 years with a 15-5-1 record. Brandeis finished seventh nationally in Division III with 0.62 shutouts per game and eighth with a 0.51 goals-against average while also placing among the top 40 in scoring offense, total goals and total assists and save percentage. In the ECAC tournament, junior defensive midfielder Joe Eisenbies '13 was named Most Outstanding Player after helping the Judges hold their opponents to just nine shots over the course of the week.

WINTER 2011-12

Comebacks and upsets ruled the winter season in Brandeis Athletics.

The biggest comeback of them all took place on January 21 and featured the entire Brandeis community. That’s the date the Linsey Pool reopened after nearly four years on hiatus. After a raucous celebration – featuring relay races and fully-clothed staff members hitting the water -  inaugurated the $3.5 million renovations, Linsey will once again host intercollegiate meets in 2012-13 under new head coach Mike Kotch.

Current varsity programs provided rallies as well. The fencing team saw sophomore foil fencer Julian Cardillo '14 keep his hope alive to be a four-time NCAA championship qualifier by placing 10th at the regional meet. Seeded seventh headed into the meet, Cardillo claimed the last possible spot to advance past the first round. He then fenced well enough to claim one of two at-large berths to the NCAA field, where he finished 19th overall. Juniors Mike Zook '13 and Zoe Messinger '13  also had chances to reach nationals, but both fell just short. Zook, an epee fencer, may have had Brandeis’s most impressive finish of the year, coming out of the 33rd seed to reach the final pool of 12. He was unable to overcome his low seeding to grab the berth at nationals, while Messinger, who was 11th in the women’s saber at the regional meet, also came up just short.

For the indoor track and field season, the senior duo of Brown and Warwick joined Cardillo as NCAA qualifiers. After winning UAA crowns in the mile and the 3,000-meter run, respectively, both were part of the Division III championships at Grinnell College in Iowa. Both were also seeded third in their respective events. Warwick  placed 12th in the 5K to finish about 35 seconds out of All-America honors, but Brown claimed his first career All-America honor in the mile. He won his heat in the preliminaries with a temporary Grinnell facility record before finishing in third place in the finals with a time of 4:11.24.

On the basketball hardwood, the Brandeis teams didn’t have the season-long success they have been used to in recent years  - there was no postseason for the Judges’ cagers for the first time since 2002-03 – but that didn’t mean there weren’t some exciting contests. The men pulled two upsets of nationally-ranked squads, defeating No. 2 Amherst and No. 24 Washington University in the friendly confines of Red Auerbach Arena. The Judges led the second-ranked Lord Jeffs for the entire second half thanks to sophomore Ben Bartoldus '14’s career-high 23 points, while four different players scored in double figures against the Bears to put their UAA conference title on hold. Senior Tyrone Hughes '12 achieved a program first during the season, hitting a buzzer-beating shot to force overtime against Chicago and finishing with Brandeis’s first-ever triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

SPRING 2012

The spring season saw historic performances on several fronts. The Judges had two more competitors selected to NCAA championships, two UAA Rookies of the Year and another ECAC Tournament top seed.

For the third time in the past five seasons, coach Jessica Johnson guided the softball squad to home field advantage in the ECAC tournament with the top seed. The Judges battled through the consolation bracket and forced a decisive third game of the tournament against Endicott College, but ultimately came up just short against the Gulls, 7-6. Senior Caroline Miller '12, who started all six games for the Judges in the tournament, was outstanding, allowing just nine earned runs in 30 innings, striking out 42 hitters and walking just three. In three of her four wins, Miller had 10 or more Ks and three or fewer hits allowed. Meanwhile, outfielder Amanda Genovese '15, who took  home UAA Rookie of the Year honors, continued her fine play into the postseason, where she hit .591 (13-22) with five stolen bases and seven runs scored.

The women’s tennis team entered the spring portion of its schedule without a national ranking, but the Judges reached as high as 19th, thanks to a 5-0 trip to the West Coast over February break that saw coach Ben Lamanna’s squad upend two other nationally-ranked teams. Brandeis eventually finished the season with a 15-5 record, the most wins in a season since 1980-81. All but one of the eight players who started regularly in singles and doubles are back in 2012-13, including No. 1 singles and doubles player Carley Cooke ’15, who claimed UAA Rookie of the Year honors and became the third Brandeis woman since 2003 to earn a berth at the NCAA Division III individual championship. Cooke and junior Faith Broderick '13 were also selected as alternates for the Division III doubles tournament.

When the track and field teams moved to their outdoor season, Brown and Warwick did not miss a beat, with Brown improving on his already stellar season. Warwick claimed another UAA title in the 10,000-meter run, but just missed a spot at her third NCAA meet of the year. Brown, however, made it to his fifth career national championship, earning New England Division III Runner of the Year honors in the process. Brown doubled at the UAA championship meet, winning the 800- and 1,500-meter runs. He posted a top-1o time in the nation in the 800, but it was the 1,500 where he truly made his mark. On May 13, at the New Balance Twilight Meet at Bentley College, Brown set a school record in the “metric mile” with a time of 3:43.39, eclipsing the mark established by inaugural Hall of Famer Mark Beeman ’85 nearly 30 years ago. Brown’s time was the best in Division III this season and the sixth-fastest of all time. At the NCAA championships in Claremont, California, Brown finished in fourth place in his final career race to earn his second All-America honor of 2012. After falling to the back of the pack on the last lap, his charge to the front fell just short, about a second behind the eventual winner.

While the Brandeis baseball team had one of its toughest season in program history, the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) honored senior 2B Sean O’Hare '12 with a spot in its annual College All-Star game, while recognizing assistant coach Brian Lambert ’98 with its Kevin Burr Assistant Coach Award, which is presented each year to an active New England assistant coach who exhibits the integrity and dedication to the game of college baseball.

In addition to all the success maintained by the Judges in the arena of play, they also produced a pair of honorees for their work in the classroom. Senior Marianne Specker '12 of the softball team was named a first-team Capital One Academic All-American for the second year in a row, the sixth Brandeis student-athlete with two Academic All-America honors and the first to earn first-team accolades both times. Classmate Ezra Bernstein '12 of the tennis team was an Academic All-District selection.