Daily Noontime: Thursday, June 25, 2020

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By Matt Noonan 

It’s Thursday, which means a brand new weekend is upon us – yay!

As usual, we hope EVERYONE is doing well while continuing to stay safe and healthy. And now, let’s dish out some news and links.


Noontime’s Headlines for Thursday, June 25, 2020

  • The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has some within the sports – and yes, news world – thinking the following question: is it worth the risk to play games while numbers continue to trend upward?Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press penned an interesting column that may make you think it might be wise to punt on sports for the rest of the year. But again, what do we know?
  • Similar to Tim Dalhberg’s piece about possibly saying goodbye to sports in 2020, the Boston Globe‘s Dan Shaughnessy expressed similar feelings in a recent column earlier this week.
  • Following this week’s news of Mystic Valley Regional Charter School canceling its upcoming football season, various high school teams the program was scheduled to play are starting to worry about a potential “domino effect.”
  • With baseball returning to Fenway Park next week – that is Spring Training 2.0, to be exact – Boston Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy hopes he and the organization can welcome fans to upcoming games either later this summer or in the fall.While it is uncertain if and when fans would be able to attend an upcoming Red Sox game, various outlets reported yesterday that one of Boston’s players tested positive for the coronavirus. The unnamed player is asymptomatic and is doing well it seems, according to various reports.
  • We learned yesterday that the University of Connecticut will cut four sports – men’s cross country, women’s rowing, men’s swimming, and diving and men’s tennis – at the end of the upcoming school year.The reason behind these cuts is due to an “overall budget reduction effort,” as reported by Sam Cooper of Yahoo! Sports.

     

  • And finally, student-athletes of teams (and programs) that are expected to be cut by Brown University, have accused the institution of “fraud for working secretly on a plan” that would eliminate their respective sport.

Noonan: Revisiting My First Lacrosse Championship Game

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Tufts University’s Beau Wood (No. 18) netted the game-winning goal for the Jumbos against Bowdoin College in the 2012 NESCAC Championship game. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan)

By Matt Noonan 

The month of May, in my opinion, will always be associated with the sport of lacrosse.

It is a month that features a slew of college tournaments and championships to NCAA postseason runs that concludes on Memorial Day weekend.

But while the sport of lacrosse, as well as other games, remain sidelined for the moment, memories of games covered, including my first-ever New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament Final, is on my mind. And it is hard not to think back to that gorgeous day – May 6, 2012, to be exact – when Tufts University outlasted Bowdoin College, 9-8, in double-overtime

At the time, I didn’t know much about lacrosse. I thought it was hockey on grass – maybe basketball, too – but it was a sport I grew to love from watching a talented Tufts team (and program), which had won its first-ever national championship two years earlier against Salisbury University.

I got my first glimpse of these Jumbos in mid-April of 2012 when Tufts rolled past Amherst College, 15-5. It was an impressive win.

Mike Daly, who was the coach of the Jumbos, told me neither he or his coaching staff anticipated his team was going to beat Amherst by ten goals on this particular afternoon. Instead, Daly, who is currently the head coach of the Brown University men’s lacrosse team, told me that his team “just put together a pretty complete effort today.” And that effort would certainly be on display weeks later when I covered Tufts’ dramatic win over a Bowdoin, which would conclude its 2012 campaign in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.

Bowdoin was a good team. They had scored some impressive conference wins in 2012, as well as some important non-league victories against Keene State and Springfield College. They beat Wesleyan University in the NESCAC quarterfinals before knocking off Trinity College in the semifinals shortly after Tufts topped Connecticut College.

Tufts had beaten Bowdoin prior to their championship meeting – the Jumbos topped the Polar Bears, 15-7, in Medford, Massachusetts, which made me think the young men who wore the powder blue, brown and white jerseys that day would duplicate that performance on the same field. But I was wrong.

Instead, I, along with fans and friends of each program, was treated to an amazing back and forth affair that saw Bowdoin erase a two-goal deficit during the final minutes of the fourth quarter to force not one, but two extra sessions.

Tufts had a chance to win the game in the first overtime but neither Nick Rhoads and Beau Wood were able to deposit their attempt past Bowdoin’s, Chris Williamson. Bowdoin would also have a chance to clinch the victory but watched Conor O’Toole‘s shot sail wide of the Tufts cage.

So, with the score still knotted at 8-8, we quickly advanced to a second overtime period. And like many, I wondered which team would score that game-winner? Would it be Bowdoin, since they seemed to have all the momentum, thanks to back-to-back fourth-quarter goals by Keegan Mehlhorn and Will Wise, or Tufts, which had not located the back of the net since the final seconds of the third quarter?

That question would be answered during the sixth and final period when Tufts scored on its third attempt of the session with 1:50 remaining. Beau Wood fired home the game-winner after receiving a pass from Geordie Shafer. And once the ball slipped past Bowdoin’s Chris Williamson, the Jumbos rushed the field to celebrate a hard-fought yet exhilarating win.

“We knew we had to just end (the game) it as soon (as we got the ball),” Wood remarked shortly after his team’s one-goal win.

Indeed, the Jumbos did end it, but not until they forced their second turnover of the second overtime.

Tufts would advance to the NCAA semifinals two weeks later but saw their run toward a national title conclude against SUNY Cortland. The Red Dragons, which beat the Jumbos by a score of 12-10, would end up losing in the finals to Salisbury, who had beaten Tufts in the national title game one year earlier.

Sure, it was disappointing to see a team you had covered fall short of winning the ultimate prize, but I knew eventually this team (and program) would celebrate a championship in the future. And that they did. Tufts would win a pair of titles in the coming years, including their second national championship against Salisbury in 2014. They would also make a third-straight appearance in the championship game in 2016 but lose by one goal to the Sea Gulls of Salisbury.

Tufts will return to the title game again soon. But for now, I consider myself lucky to have covered and chronicled their various campaigns these past few years through NoontimeSports.com. I will always be thankful for the time both Mike Daly and his players provided me after the three contests I covered in 2012 and will continue to look back on this time fondly. I was a young journalist (and blogger), but also someone that wanted to learn more about a sport that I had only played once in my life. And because of Tufts, I am now an avid lacrosse fan, as well as a high school and middle school official here in Massachusetts.

I miss watching and covering games, especially on gorgeous days like today, but I do know better days are ahead for all of us, and they will certainly include exciting and dramatic one-goal victories.

New England Football: Undrafted Free Agent Signings

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A slew of New England college football players signed unrestricted free agent contracts with various NFL teams. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualunt.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

With the 2020 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, it is time to turn our attention to the various New England college football players that have recently signed with teams as undrafted free agents.

Here is a current list of student-athletes that will be competing for roster spots with various teams for the upcoming season. We will be updating this list as more signings are announced.

Boston College

  • Jake Burt (TE): The Lynnfield, Massachusetts native, who was named to the John Mackey Award Watch List as a graduate student with the Eagles this past fall, signed with the New England Patriots on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Brown University

Dartmouth College

Harvard University

Holy Cross 

  • Jackson Dennis (OL): The Odessa, Florida native signed a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals following the conclusion of the NFL Draft. Dennis started 12 games last fall for the Crusaders, who advanced to the NCAA FCS playoffs for the first time since 2009.

University of Maine

University of New Hampshire

  • Prince Smith Jr. (CB): The Pennsylvania native is headed back home to compete for a spot with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles announced Smith Jr. was one of 12 players that signed unrestricted free agent contracts last night after the NFL Draft concluded.

University of Rhode Island 

  • Kyle Murphy (OL): The Attleboro, Massachusetts native announced on Twitter that he is “officially a (New York) Giant.”
  • Aaron Parker (WR): Parker inked his name on a contract with the Dallas Cowboys after his cousin, Isaiah Coulter, was selected yesterday by the Houston Texans with the 171st pick.

Yale University

  • Dieter Eiselen (OL): The Choate Rosemary Hall (Conn.) alum, who is from Stellenbosch, South Africa, signed with the Chicago Bears shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft.

New England Football: Yale Picked To Capture The Ivy League

Yale BulldogsBy NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

The 2019 Ivy League Football Preseason Media Poll was released this morning with Yale University checking-in atop the eight-team list with nine first-place votes.

Yale, which was picked to finish first in the Ancient Eight one year ago, concluded its 2018 campaign with a 5-5 record, including a 3-4 mark in league play.

Dartmouth College and Princeton College checked-in second and third, respectively – two the teams combined for six first-place nods with the Tigers claiming four of them while Harvard University secured the fourth position with one first-place vote.

Penn University checked-in fifth overall while Columbia University placed sixth with one first-place vote. The Lions finished 6-4 last season – they won their final two games against Brown University (42-20) and Cornell University (24-21).

Cornell and Brown rounded out the eight-team poll, checking-in seventh and eighth, respectively.

Princeton captured the 2018 Ivy League crown with a 10-0 mark – it was the 13th time in league history that an Ancient Eight team has finished its campaign without a single setback.

Yale won the league crown in 2017, while Penn and Princeton were tabbed co-champions in 2016. Harvard and Dartmouth also shared the Ivy League title in 2015.

The 2019 Ivy League season officially begins Saturday, September 21st.


Stay connected with our New England football coverage by following @Noontime_FB on Twitter! 

Catching Up With Sara Binkhorst (Wheaton Women’s Basketball)

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Sara Binkhorst was named the new Wheaton College women’s basketball coach last month. (PHOTO COURTESY: Brown University Athletics) 

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Sara Binkhorst is excited about her new job – she was recently named the new head coach of the Wheaton College women’s basketball program last month.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Binkhorst when asked about becoming the eighth head coach in program history.

“From the moment I stepped onto campus (as a candidate for the women’s basketball head coaching role) I was welcomed by the Wheaton community and the supportive (athletic) department, so I really am looking forward to all the things to come.”

Binkhorst arrives in Norton, Massachusetts after a successful four-year stint as an assistant coach with the Brown University women’s basketball program where she helped the Bears capture a pair of Ocean State Tip-Off Tournaments in 2017 and 2018 while assisting the squad to a spot in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament in 2017.

With Binkhorst, the Bears finished above.500 three times, including this past winter, while also competing in the 2017 Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) where they defeated the University of Maryland Baltimore County (81-75) in the opening round before falling to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (87-84).

Binkhorst speaks fondly of her time at Brown, including what she learned from head coach Sarah Behn, who welcomed her to the coaching staff a few months after she graduated Bowdoin College.

Said Binkhors, “I will always be grateful for Sarah Behn for taking a chance on me (as a recent college graduate) and developing me (into the coach I have become). Brown was an unbelievable experience and it definitely helped me prepare (myself) for what I am excited to do at Wheaton.”

Being able to coach the Lyons will certainly bring back some fond memories of competing for the Polar Bears from 2011-2015 for Binkhorst, who flourished under the direction of current Bowdoin head coach Adrienne Shibles. As a member of the Bowdoin women’s basketball program, Binkhorst earned a pair of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) first-team honors while also being named the New England Women’s Basketball Association (NEWBA) Player of the Year in 2015.

In 2015, Binkhorst guided the Polar Bears to the NCAA quarterfinals – she averaged 14.4 points and 3.1 assists per game that season – and also became the 14th player in program history to net 1,000 points in her final regular-season contest against Tufts University.

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“Brown was an unbelievable experience,” Binkhorst said when discussing her past four seasons as an assistant with the Bears women’s basketball team. (Photo Courtesy: Brown University Athletics)

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Binkhorst to discuss her excitement for coaching Division III basketball, as well as what she will be doing over the next few months to prepare the Lyons for a successful 2019-20 campaign.

On becoming a D-III coach: “I am a true believer in a Division III experience. I played at Bowdoin and had an unbelievable experience playing for one of the greatest coaches, Adrienne Shibles, so I am a firm believer in what Division III promotes between the balance of athletics and academics. I love Division III and wanted to get into coaching after I graduated from Bowdoin (in 2015), and was extremely fortunate that I landed at Brown. I learned so much from that experience, including how to recruit high-academic student-athletes, which is similar to the type of students I competed with at Bowdoin.

I (always) knew I wanted to become a head coach (after I graduated Bowdoin), and I wanted to return to the Division III world, (so landing at Wheaton is a dream come true).  It is an unbelievable school that competes in a really competitive Division III conferences – I think (the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) is one of the best in New England. Additionally, knowing the possibility of how to recruit regionally and nationally to a school like Wheaton is very exciting.

On competing in the NEWMAC: So, we competed against a few schools in the NEWMAC when I was playing for Bowdoin, but I have a great deal of respect for the conference and coaches. I feel really humbled and honored to be taking over a program to compete in the NEWMAC against some unbelievable coaches that have great traditions of success. I think the Wheaton program will continue to work hard to establish itself as one of the premier programs in the NEWMAC and we’ll obviously begin (this process) once we convene on campus this fall.

I am really looking forward to our first day of practice, being in the gym with our team and start competing, so we can (reach our goal) of becoming a championship program.

On preparations for the upcoming season: First and foremost, (the most important goal) is getting to know the women on our team. I have been able to have some great conversations with all the women on our team – I look forward to continuing (our dialogues) this summer, too – but I am really looking forward to getting to know our players and build relationships with them.

When everyone is on campus, I look forward to getting together and discussing the culture that we’re going to build collectively.


Stay connected with our New England basketball coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Hoops