Athletic Achievement To have #NECPride is to live it, and NEC studentathletes did just that on the field of play during the 2014-15 season, a year that yielded 19 AllAmerican selections, five Capital One Academic All-Americans, and eight teams which earned national rankings in their respective sports. The NEC sent representatives to NCAA Championship events in 14 different team sports in 2014-15, highlighted by Fairleigh Dickinson qualifying for the NCAA Bowling Championship for the 11th time in 12 years. In men’s and women’s basketball, a combined five teams competed in the postseason. The golden era of Robert Morris men’s basketball showed no signs of letting up. Playing on the road before a raucous, SRO crowd at the Pope Center in Brooklyn, the Colonials won their record eighth NEC men’s basketball championship with a 66-63 victory over top-seeded St. Francis Brooklyn. RMU also won a postseason game for the fourth straight season after rallying to defeat North Florida in an NCAA First Four game. Individually, St. Francis Brooklyn’s Jalen Cannon became the NEC’s all-time rebound leader and was named NEC Player of the Year. In front of a coast-to-coast audience on ESPNU, St. Francis Brooklyn capped its Cinderella postseason run by defeating Robert Morris, 7762, to capture the first NEC women’s basketball title in program history. Seeded fifth, the Terriers became the first team in conference annals to win three road games en route to the title. NEC football produced eight All-Americans, four of whom came from NEC co-champions Sacred Heart and Wagner. The Pioneers, who represented the conference in the FCS playoffs for the second straight season, became the second NEC program to finish the year ranked in both the FCS Coaches (23rd) and Sports Network (24th) polls. LIU Brooklyn sprinter Brendon Rodney earned NCAA Indoor Track & Field All-America honors in the 200-meter dash for the third straight year. He went on to earn the fifth All-America honor of his remarkable career at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship. Led by Rodney and fellow outdoor All-American Mica-Jonathan Petit-Homme (400h), LIU Brooklyn men’s outdoor track and field won the prestigious IC4A Championship. LIU women’s volleyball scored wins over Alabama, Fresno State, Boston College, Western Kentucky and #25 Michigan State during the 2014 regular season. The three-time defending NEC champion Blackbirds have gone undefeated in conference regular season play in each of the last three seasons, posting a 44-0 league record over that span. The perfect combination of student and athlete, LIU Brooklyn’s Annika Foit became the first women’s volleyball student-athlete in NEC history to win three consecutive NEC Player of the Year awards. She was also tabbed to the Capital One Academic All-America first team. The CCSU men’s cross country dynasty extended to six as the Blue Devils delivered a dominant performance on their home course, finishing one through five at the NEC Championships. CCSU is one of six programs in NEC history to win at least six straight conference titles in any sport.
Northeast Conference Football All-Time Records School
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A year after stunning Syracuse in a run to the NCAA quarterfinals, Bryant won its fourth straight NEC men’s lacrosse championship. Kevin Massa was named a USILA All-American for the third straight year, while Bulldog teammate Gunnar Waldt earned his second straight All-America honor. Massa graduated as the NCAA’s all-time leader in faceoffs won and ground balls. Robert Morris junior Jessica Karwacki established a new NCAA women’s lacrosse career mark for draw controls with 537 in just three years. She led the nation in the category for a third straight season. Likewise, Wagner’s Shea Gegan ranked first nationally in both caused turnovers and ground balls. Sacred Heart completed the rare NEC “Triple Crown,” winning the women’s cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field championships. The Pioneers became the first school since 1997, and just fourth team overall, to win all three titles in the same academic year. Cementing his status as a future NEC Hall of Fame candidate, Fairleigh Dickinson’s Arvis Berzins became the first four-time NEC Men’s Tennis Player of the Year in conference history. In four years, he compiled a 71-29 singles record and finished 19-2 against NEC competitors. LIU Brooklyn’s George Williams won the NEC men’s golf championship to qualify for NCAA regional play, where he turned in the best individual performance in NEC history. Williams finished 11th out of 75 competitors at the event with a two-under par 208. The NEC Hall of Fame announced its fifth Hall of Fame class in January 2014. The threemember group included a pair of former Central Connecticut student-athletes: Corsley Edwards, a men’s basketball player, and Kelly Shimmin, a women’s soccer player. Former Wagner Sports Information Director and NEC Communications Director Bob Balut was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame. To wrap a year filled with #NECPride, former FDU soccer star Alejandro Bedoya competed for the USMNT over the summer at the 2015 Gold Cup while two-time NEC Women’s Soccer Player of the Year Christie Rampone won her second FIFA World Cup competing for Team USA this past July.
On Campus & In The Community The NEC welcomed the class of 2018 to campus last summer as part of its annual outreach 2015 ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSIT Y FOOTBALL
program designed to raise awareness and develop the league’s growing fan base. Over 8,000 students across the Conference were provided with NEC-logo drawstring bags. Among the contents in the bag were promotional products and coupons donated by a number of the league’s corporate partners and contributing sponsors. The NEC, its member institutions and studentathletes have made community involvement an important piece of its mission. In 2014-15, the NEC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) spent time at the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation in Harrisburg, Pa., during its annual meeting. The SAAC hand-delivered a $7,532.94 check to the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation and also volunteered time to preparing care packages that went to children around the nation. The monetary donation to the Foundation, which assists children under age 18 and their families who are facing the hardships of a cancer diagnosis, was comprised of funds raised from the NEC SAAC’s annual Penny Wars. For the first time, St. Francis Brooklyn was the recipient of the NEC Building Communities award. The award recognizes the institution which demonstrates the highest dedication to making an impact in the community through the efforts of its student-athletes, coaches and administrators. Over the course of the 2014-15 academic year, Conference members logged nearly 25,000 hours of community service. Wagner football player Phil Faccone and Robert Morris softball player Nicole Sleith were named the 2014-15 NEC Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year, respectively. The award recognizes individual excellence in both the academic and athletic realms as well as leadership and contributions to one’s community.
Commitment to Sportsmanship The NEC continued its long-running participation in the NCAA’s Respect Campaign, an effort to promote an environment of respect and integrity at Conference events. The NEC Team Sportsmanship Award program recognized those teams and student-athletes who adhere to the principles of sportsmanship and pursue victory with honor. The NEC honored 22 teams for their commitment to sportsmanship during the 2014-15 academic year.
Independence Day Magazine (Sept. 19, 2015)