2015 was a special year for college athletics in the Bay State.
And before we press fast-forward to 2016, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest stories and headlines from this past year.
* The Tufts University men’s lacrosse team captured its third NCAA title, including the program’s second consecutive crown with a 19-11 victory against Lynchburg.
* Allyson Fournier navigated the Tufts softball team to its third consecutive title as the four-time All-American pitcher helped the Jumbos defeat Texas-Tyler, 7-4.
Tufts concluded the 2015 season with a 51-0 record, while becoming the first Division III softball team to win three consecutive national championships.
* The Boston University men’s ice hockey team captured the Beanpot and Hockey East – the program’s eighth conference title – while earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Terriers advanced to the ‘Frozen Four’ championship, but fell to Providence College on Causeway Street in Boston.
* Amherst College saw its men’s soccer program capture its initial NCAA title earlier this month with a 2-1victory against Loras. Bryce Ciambella netted the game-winning goal in the 55th minute to lift the Jeffs to victory.
* The Williams College women’s soccer team won its first-ever championship, thanks to a first half marker by Kristina Alvarado, which helped the Ephs defeat Washington (Mo.), 1-0.
* On the gridiron, the Assumption College football team captured the Northeast-10 Conference championship, defeating New Haven, 17-14. Cody Lynn connected with Alex Shain on a one-yard touchdown strike midway through the fourth quarter, which helped the Hounds rally from a five-point deficit.
The Hounds then went onto capture a first-round NCAA Division II tournament game, defeating Bowie State by a score of 51-29. Marc Monks accounted for four touchdowns during his team’s 11th win of the season.
* The Tufts football team finished its eight-game slate with a 6-2 record, winning six games for the first time since 2001. The Jumbos capped their campaign with a 31-28 victory against Middlebury College.
* Amherst College concluded its 2015 football season with an 8-0 ledger, along with the program’s sixth New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown. The Jeffs won the championship last season and shared the crown with Middlebury College and Wesleyan University in 2013.
* The Babson College men’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals for the first-time in program history after rallying past Trinity College (Conn.) in the regional final. Joey Flannery sent the game to overtime with a layup late in the second stanza before Matthew Droney punched the Green and White’s ticket to the semifinals with a trifecta with 54 seconds remaining in overtime.
Babson ended its 2014-15 campaign with 29 victories, along with their first New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) championship since 2004.
* The MIT women’s lacrosse team captured the program’s first-ever NEWMAC crown, defeating Wellesley College and Springfield College. The Engineers season concluded with the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory against Regis College (Mass.).
MIT’s Emily Young finished her first season with the Cardinal and Gray by tallying 86 points on 75 goals and 11 assists.
* The Williams women’s tennis team capped its 2015 season with a 5-4 victory against Emory in the national championship. Linda Shin secured the title with a second-set victory.
Williams has now defeated Emory for the title four times (2002, 2010, 2013 and 2015) and lead Division III in women’s tennis titles with nine crowns.
* The Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team won the program’s first-ever NCAA Division II tournament game by beating Adelphi in the quarterfinals. The victory avenged a conference tournament setback to the Panthers.
* Stonehill College signal-caller Matt Foltz made headlines during the fourth week of the season by engineering a trio of touchdown drives during the final 62 seconds as the Skyhawks rallied to beat LIU Post, 40-37. Foltz capped the rally with a last-second heave to Corey White in the end zone.
Matt Foltz was speechless when asked to describe his heroic performance from one week ago.
The Stonehill College sophomore signal-caller couldn’t recall a past experience of engineering a trio of scoring plays in 62 seconds to guide a squad to an improbable victory.
“I have never experienced anything like it,” Foltz said on Wednesday after receiving the Golden Helmet Award at the New England Football Writers Luncheon at Harvard University. “I was just trying to do my job and afterward you can’t believe it happened.”
Stonehill entered the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s game trailing LIU Post, 30-13, but trimmed the deficit with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Foltz to senior wide-out Corey White, which brought the visitors with 10 points. The Pioneers responded with an eight-play, 97-yard drive to push ahead, 37-20, with 2:13 remaining.
Robert Talley – the head coach of the Skyhawks – considered pulling his signal-caller with the game potentially out of reach, but decided to keep Foltz in the game.
With Foltz under center, the Skyhawks engineered a quick scoring drive that resulted in a 13-yard touchdown strike to freshman tight end Kaleb Lutton that brought Stonehill within 10 points (37-27) with 1:02 remaining.
Stonehill’s defense kept momentum on their side, forcing LIU Post to go three-and-out before the offense – again led by Foltz – engineered a four-play, 43-yard scoring drive that concluded with an 11-yard touchdown reception by sophomore Dave Harrison with just six seconds left.
The Skyhawks – now trailing 37-34 – continued their rally on the ensuing kickoff by recovering an onside kick at the LIU Post 41 yard line. And with just one second left remaining, Foltz again located the end zone with a 41-yard jump ball to White, who hauled in the game-winning reception on the left side.
“I saw (Corey) in the end zone and I know he is one of the most physical and gifted guys on the team. He is big and strong and athletic, so if there is one guy you want to throw a jump ball to it is probably Corey,” Foltz said of his final toss of the afternoon.
“I saw him in the end zone and there were a couple other guys around him, and at that point I was just throwing up a prayer, hoping he would come down with it.”
The win was Stonehill’s fourth consecutive of the season, but it was also their second fourth quarterback comeback in a span of three weeks. Against Merrimack College, Foltz led a pair of scoring drives in the fourth quarter to help the Skyhawks overcome a 20-10 deficit. The final result: Stonehill 24, Merrimack 20
Said Foltz of his fourth quarter success, “Everyone on our team never quits on each other and I think the team chemistry this year is great. I also think it is the preparation we all put in. When it comes to crunch time and high pressure situations (we) reveal who we really are and as a whole team it shows we put in the time and we put in the effort.”
The third week of the college football season begins this evening with a non-Massachusetts contest. Luckily, we don’t have to wait too long as some games kick-off tomorrow evening, but here are some links and news from around the web to get you set for another weekend of football.
The second week of the college football season in Massachusetts was a wild one. There were some interesting outcomes and upsets, along with numerous teams stretching its win total to two games.
Here are a few notes and takeaways from the second weekend of the season:
* Boston College made headlines this weekend, routing Howard, 76-0. The Eagles held the Bison to just 11 yards of total offense, while quarterback Troy Flutie – the former Natick High School signal-caller – completed seven of eight passes for 88 yards and one touchdown.
The Eagles, winners of back-to-back contests, host Florida State University on Friday, September 18 at 8:00 p.m. This will be Boston College’s first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) clash of the season.
* UMass head coach Mark Whipple wasn’t too pleased with his team’s performance against Colorado, stating in a press release, “Give Colorado a lot of credit; they played better in all phases.”
The Minutemen dropped their season-opener to the Buffaloes by a score of 48-14. They registered one touchdown in the first and second quarter, respectively, while Colorado ended the game with 558 yards of total offense.
The Minutemen will look to rebound on Saturday when they host Temple at Gillette Stadium – the team’s home opener.
* As noted in the Northeast-10 Conference weekly report, Assumption College kicker Cole Tracy broke a pair of conference records this past weekend – most field goals in a game (six field goals) and most points by a kicker (19 points). Tracy is in his second season with the Greyhounds and has converted seven field goals this season.
* Sticking with special teams, the NE-10 weekly report also highlighted Bentley University’s Tyler Ford, who matched the Falcons’ program record for the longest punt, a 68-yard boot. Ford, who hails from Amherst, New Hampshire, registered five punts last Friday in his team’s heartbreaking defeat to New Haven. He did, however, record a quartet of punts that landed between the Chargers’ 20-yard-line and goal line.
* Stonehill College won its second consecutive contests, defeating Merrimack College, 24-20. Quarterback Matt Foltz, who was tabbed the NE-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Week, engineered his first career fourth quarter comeback, while finishing the contest 22-of-36 for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Foltz also rushed for 25 yards on 11 attempts.
McCourt, who made is first collegiate start at quarterback, concluded the contest 21-of-26 for a school-record 444 yards and six touchdowns. According to the Nichols College Athletics website, McCourt concluded the first quarterback with five completions for 165 yards and three touchdowns.
* WPI picked up its second consecutive ‘Friday Night Lights’ victory, defeating cross-town rival Worcester State University, 27-13. Quarterback Dan Eckler completed 21-of-31 attempts for 381 yards and one touchdown – he did not toss an interception. Zach Grasis rumbled for 74 yards and Brandon Eccher recorded a season-high 168 receiving yards and one touchdown.
* Harvard University kicks-off its season next Saturday, September 19 when they travel to URI for a 1:00 p.m. kick-off. The Crimson was picked to capture the Ancient Eight this season, as noted in the preseason poll.
* We’re two weeks away from starting another New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season. Amherst, Tufts and Williams each begin its campaign on the road, Saturday, September 26.