The 2011-2012 year in Swarthmore athletics began on the first Friday in September as the shorthanded women’s soccer team dropped a 1-0 decision to Moravian and volleyball swept a pair of matches against Alvernia and Centenary. Since, there have been trips to Puerto Rico, Barcelona, Phoenix and Clearwater. Game-winners and heart-breakers, senior-year breakouts and freshman standouts.
Here is the first of three segments of the top moments to remember, in chronological order, from the year in Swarthmore athletics.
1. Field Hockey’s Win Against Eastern.
Sandwiched between Centennial matches against Dickinson and Johns Hopkins, a Tuesday trip to Eastern hardly seemed a game to circle on the calendar at the start of the year. But what a thriller it turned out to be with the Garnet matching NCAA-tournament-bound Eastern goal for goal. Playing in the first half without captain Sophia Agathis ’13, watching on live-stats in a seminar, the Eagles jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just 2:34 into the game. But Swarthmore answered right back with a pair of goals. Aarti Rao ’14 brought the game level off a penalty corner and Taryn Colonesse ’13, on her birthday, gave the Garnet the lead just 1:20 before the half.
The Eagles quickly rallied to tie four minutes after halftime but five minutes later, Katie Teleky ’13 regained the lead for Swarthmore. Then the skies opened up as a deluge and lightning forced the teams off the field for a 50 minute delay. During the delay, Agathis’ seminar ended and she jumped in her car hoping to make the 13 mile trip to Eastern before the end of the game. When the teams returned to the field, it took just six minutes for the Eagles to knot the match at 3-3. Just as Swarthmore took a timeout to regroup, Agathis arrived, in full uniform, providing a spark in the midfield for the final 17 minutes of regulation as the teams finished 70 minutes level. Thirteen minutes into overtime, it was Rao with her second of the game, tucking a sharp-angle shot near-post from the right end-line for the 4-3 win. The Garnet used the momentum from the win to knock of Johns Hopkins in a shocker 3-2 four days later.
2. Centennial Conference Cross-Country Race in the Snow.
Battling through wind, the cold, and several inches of snow covering the course at Big Spring High School in Newville, PA, the Swarthmore men’s cross country team placed third in the Centennial meet while the women’s cross country team placed sixth. Jacob Phillips ’13 finished 10th overall for the men in an impressive 27:34.9 given the conditions for Swarthmore’s best individual finish in the meet since 2003 when Lang Reynolds was a winner. On the women’s side, Melissa Frick ’12 was Swarthmore’s top finisher in 22nd place with a time of 25:39.9. Nasty weather is certainly to be expected at the end of October. But a rogue Nor’easter certainly made for a memorable meet and some great pictures.
3. Fall Haverford Weekend.
Wow. The last weekend of the regular season with volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and field hockey all playing Haverford with significant playoff implications on the line. And just as the snow was wreaking havoc on the Centennial Championship Cross Country races, it was wrecking the plans for a Saturday Swarthmore-Haverford festival. Here were the scenarios. Volleyball was playing Haverford for the fourth seed and the right to host the first round of the Centennial tournament. Women’s soccer was playing Haverford with seeding for the Centennial tournament on the line. And men’s soccer and field hockey were playing Haverford in games for all the marbles. Winner gets in to the playoffs, loser is out. With the women’s soccer and field hockey teams all bundled up and ready to depart early Saturday morning, the games were postponed until Sunday. It turned out that only volleyball would play on Saturday and they once again played a thriller with the Fords, winning in four sets 25-22, 23-25, 25-15 and 26-24. On the day, junior setter Allie Coleman set the program’s single-season record for assists and senior libero, Hillary Santana, who earlier in the year eclipsed 1000 career digs, set the program’s single-season record for digs.
Meanwhile, field hockey was rescheduled to Sunday and men’s and women’s soccer moved to Monday so that Haverford could paint soccer lines on its turf field. One year after getting blown out by the Fords, the Garnet field hockey side played with tremendous heart looking for its first playoff berth in over a decade. Just over a minute in, Swarthmore scored as Teleky banged home a Beth Johnson feed for the 1-0 lead. But 69 seconds later, the Fords answered back and the game looked to be shaping into a shootout. After that quick flurry though, the teams played scoreless hockey for the next 58 minutes before the Fords scored off a 60th minute corner to take the 2-1 lead. With Swarthmore pushing forward for an equalizer, Haverford scored an insurance goal against the run of play and held on despite late Garnet pressure in the circle over the final five minutes.
The Monday soccer games were equally as exciting. Junior defender Ari Spiegel scored her second goal in three games just nine minutes in against the No. 24 Fords to give Swarthmore a 1-0 lead and with Marie Mutryn ’12 making six saves over the next 70 minutes, the Garnet preserved the advantage into the final stretch of play before Sarah Andrade ’13 scored for Haverford to make the score 1-1 in the 80th minute. With the intense game between the rivals seemingly headed for overtime, the Garnet’s freshman phenom Emma Sindelar rattled a shot off the crossbar and following her own miss, headed home the rebound for the winner and one of her team-leading 11 goals. Swarthmore clinched the No. 3 seed in the Centennial playoffs with the victory.
The men’s match was another 2-1 affair. Haverford came into the contest winners of four straight Centennial matches and Ford star Alejandro Rettig y Martinez ’13 gave the homestanders an early 1-0 lead as Swarthmore could not draw level despite five shots over the final 25 minutes of the first half. Haverford doubled its advantage in the 75th and though Jack Momeyer ’14 responded with a goal of his own two minutes later to cut the deficit in half, the Garnet could never find the equalizer. With the loss, reigning-champion Swarthmore missed the Centennial playoffs despite being the preseason favorite.
What a weekend.
4. Women’s Soccer Centennial Semifinal
The women’s soccer team had been the only Swarthmore team to reach a Centennial semifinal in 2011-2012 before the men’s and women’s tennis teams earned No. 3 seeds for this weekend’s Centennial tournament. The Garnet’s opponent was the Gettysburg Bullets, a team that had defeated Swarthmore in a fantastic 3-2 overtime game earlier in the year.
The game was played at top-seeded Johns Hopkins on a frigid night with temperatures dipping into the low 30s. And with the first meeting of Alabama-LSU playing in the background on the press-box television, the game on the field was nearly the soccer equivalent, a physical midfield game without many chances on target.
Midway through the first half, Molly Phillips of Gettysburg lost her mark on a corner kick and headed home past Mutryn to give the Bullets a 1-0 lead. Swarthmore saw its best chance of the game in the 86th minute when the dynamic duo of Megan Brock ’14 and Sindelar nearly connected, but Brock’s cross was just a step too far in front of the freshman and it rolled harmlessly away.
That Phillips goal proved to be the only score of the game as the Garnet saw a five-match winning streak snapped.
But for a Garnet team that will return 10 of 11 starters from that match in 2012, reaching the Centennial semifinals seems a harbinger of things to come in the year ahead.
5. Men’s Soccer Wins ECACs
No, it wasn’t the NCAA tournament. But the Garnet rebounded from the disappointment against Haverford to take care of business in the ECAC South tournament, getting a little bit of revenge in the process. The first-round match between the No. 4 Garnet and No. 5 Frostburg St. Bobcats was an instant classic as senior David Sterngold gave the Garnet a first-half lead before Frostburg St. responded for an equalizer in the 75th minute. The teams remained scoreless through two overtime session to set up the thriller known as penalties. It was a fitting end for Swarthmore goalkeeper and PK-master David D’Annunzio ’12, who earlier in the season set the program record for career shutouts. The Garnet scored on each of its first penalties and a D’Annunzio save on the Bobcats fourth secured a 4-2 Garnet victory as Swarthmore advanced from the 1-1 tie.
Swarthmore again scored the opener in the ECAC semifinal at top-seeded Alvernia before the host Crusaders answered with an equalizer just one minute later. But after an even 45 minutes of play, the Garnet dominated in the second, out-shooting Alvernia 16-1 and scoring two goals, one from Momeyer and one from Kieran Reichert ’13 to reach the title game.
The opponent in the final? None other than the Mavericks of Medaille, the very team that had knocked Swarthmore out of the NCAA Tournament at Clothier Field in 2010. The two teams had played a scoreless draw in that match before the Mavericks advanced in penalties and the ECAC South final turned into another scoreless affair as the Garnet backline held Medaille, one of the top-scoring teams in the country, off the board. But after 213 consecutive minutes of scoreless soccer between the two teams, senior Micah Rose ended his career in stunning fashion. Starting from outside the box on a restart, Rose curled a ball to the far post past the diving Medaille keeper Jimmy Frascati. The ball struck the post and dropped into the back of the net to give Swarthmore the championship.
The victory capped the illustrious careers of the Class of 2012 which finished with three NCAA Championship appearances, two Centennial Championships, and the ECAC South Championship.