With the fall season coming to a close, it is apparent that EC fall sports teams have established themselves as top players in the competitive CCIW conference. And, although the ‘Jays failed to win the conference in any of their respective sports, their success throughout the season is something worth noting.
Where should we start with the volleyball team? The ‘Jays finished with a 31-6 overall record, 5-2 in conference play. They were unbeatable from Oct. 4 until Nov. 4. They ranked 16th in the AVCA poll at the end of the season after beginning the season unranked. They qualified for both the CCIW Tournament and the NCAA Championship Tournament. They had two players earn first-team all-region accolades, and five players earn All-CCIW honors. And, head coach Julie Hall was voted AVCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year. The ‘Jays did all of this with not one senior on the team. With a young team looking to return next year, this could be just the beginning of the ‘Jays’ success.
Eight years. That is how long it took head coach Paul Webster and the women’s soccer team to make it into the CCIW Tournament. The ‘Jays posted a 13-4-1 record, 4-2-1 in conference play, and qualified for the Tournament for the first time since 2003. Three players earned academic honors, four player earned all-conference honors and Paul Webster was named the CCIW’s Coach of the Year. And, although the ‘Jays will graduate seniors, such as Stephanie Thomson and Valerie Wesley, they will be returning a majority of key players that have had a taste of the CCIW Tournament and will not settle for anything less.
The ‘Jays have been within the top four teams two out of the last four years. Posting a 6-4 record this season, 4-3 in conference play is right where head coach Tim Lester wants his team. Next year, Lester will have his first senior class that he fully recruited. And, with the likes of Scottie Williams and Joe Furco returning, the ‘Jays should be right in the mix again next season.
After a disappointing season last year, the ‘Jays proved they were ready to get back into the post season mix. Although they did not post that solid of a record at 8-7-4, 3-2-2 in conference play, it was enough to get them back into the CCIW Tournament, and once you are in the tournament, anything can happen. They ‘Jays will lose a lot of key seniors at the end of this year. Questions of who is going to fill the shoes of Matt Sterner and Brian McMahon need to be answered if the ‘Jays want to have any success next season.
EC junior Jake Austin has been the ‘Jays top runner the entire season. His recent eighth place overall finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional earned him a trip to the NCAA Cross Country Championship.
The women took first out of four teams at the Loras College Invitational on Sept. 23-24, winning the tournament after trailing by seven strokes on day one.
With the winter season beginning, the pressure is on those teams to pick up where the fall sports teams left off.