A Decade of PC Athletics
A Look Back at a Monumental Ten Years
By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
This decade has shown one of the largest growths among every sport at Providence College. There are so many moments to choose from but here are some of the greatest from this past decade:
Men’s Basketball Capture 2014 Big East Championship
Ed Cooley and the Friars playing in Madison Square Garden are something Friars fans have begun to enjoy throughout this decade, and it all began back in 2014. This was the first year of the newly aligned 10-team Big East conference and the Friars only championship was back in 1994. The Friars were an NCAA Tournament bubble team coming into the tournament making it vital for them to win. Some had the Friars succeeding and others had them as the first four teams out. Well, the Friars burst a couple of bubbles and downed the Creighton University Blue Jays to punch their ticket. This Creighton team held one of the greatest college basketball players ever to roam the floor, Doug McDermott. The Friars were led by Bryce Cotton ’14 and LaDontae Henton ’15 with a number of other upperclassmen who started the rise of Friar basketball. This would be their first of five straight NCAA tournament appearances and set the standard of what PC basketball is today.
Friars Knock off No. 3 Villanova
Valentine’s Day 2018: The Friars needed a win to bolster their NCAA tournament resume, having already defeated the No. 5/4 Xavier University Musketeers about a month prior in Providence. The holiday featured a Big East match-up against rival Villanova University. The team PC faced is considered by many college basketball critics to be the best team of the decade, as they would go on to win the NCAA Tournament. It was a fast-paced, nail biter of a game as the Wildcats and Friars remained within single digit points of each other over the course of the two halves. Ultimately, the Friars pulled ahead at the end and beat Villanova 76-71 in a game that Cooley cites as “the greatest win” that he has had with the College. Scenes of students storming the court in a matter of seconds have stuck with many Friar basketball fans ever since. The win was a pivotal moment for the team that year as it gave them the momentum they needed to make a push in the Big East Tournament which secured them a spot in the Championship game.
2014 Men’s Soccer College Cup
Just like the men’s basketball team, 2014 brought great success for the men’s soccer team. The Friars advanced to the NCAA tournament as the 11th overall team. The Friars earned themselves a first round bye and picked up victories over Dartmouth University, the University of California-Irvine and the No. 3 team Michigan State University en route to their first ever College Cup appearance. The Friars faced a tough task with in the No. 2 University of California-Los Angeles Bruins and fell 3-2 in double-overtime. Under the direction of Craig Stewart, the Friars have made six NCAA tournament appearances with a follow-up Sweet 16 appearance in 2016 under future MLS star Julian Gressel ’16.
Women’s Cross Country National Championship
Any time there is a national championship mentioned, it more than likely will be involved as one of the greatest moments. The 2013 National Championship Women’s Cross Country Team is no exception. The Friars were runners up the year prior and would not be deterred the following year. The Friars were led by Emily Sisson ’14 who finished seventh overall. Sisson is now currently competing for a spot on the U.S. National team for this upcoming Olympics and is well known in women’s running. It was the Friars first championship since 1995. Under head coach Ray Treacy ’82, the team has won two national championships and has transformed into one of the best programs in the country.
Men’s Hockey Team Wins 2015 National Championship
Friars head coach Nate Leaman has elevated this program to national prominence once again and brought the Friars back into the spotlight by advancing to the 2015 Frozen Four. The Friars were one of the final teams to make the tournament and used this motivation to their advantage. After the Friars got past the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the Friars faced off against the Boston University Terriers in the NCAA National Championship game at the TD Garden in Boston. The Friars were searching for their first National Championship in program history and, after falling behind 3-2 after two periods of play, needed some magic to secure the win. In what is considered one of the craziest finishes to an NCAA Championship hockey game, the Friars were able to come out on top in last ten minutes of the third period after finding themselves in a tied game when BU accidentally scored on their own net. It was Brandon Tanev ’15 who flicked in the game-winner wrist shot with just over six minutes left of play that secured the program’s first ever NCAA championship. Tanev would go on to become one of seven Friars to play in the NHL from the team.
Women’s Basketball Team Advances it to the 16th Round of the 2018 Women’s Basketball National Invitation Tournament
Women’s basketball had lost its way for a bit after their great success in the 1980s and early 90s at PC. Jim Crowley in his third year at the helm took tremendous strides for the Friars. The Friars made postseason play for the first time since 2010 and just the second time since the Friars advanced to the 1991-92 NCAA tournament. The Friars defeated University of Hartford and University of Pennsylvania to advance to the Sweet 16 of the WNIT and were set to face their fellow Big East foe, the Georgetown University Hoyas. The Friars ultimately fell to them, but this was a special collection of players young and old. Friar fans saw one of the greatest scorers in program history, Jojo Nogic ’19, and featured the Big East Freshman of the Year, Mary Baskerville ’22. Nogic finished as the 4th all time leading scorer in program history and Baskerville also set the program record for blocks for a freshman and the most by a Friar since the 1999-2000 season. The Friars also won eight games in conference play, the most since the 1996-1997 season. These are just a few of many accomplishments for this women’s basketball program as they look to continue their rise in the rigorous Big East conference.
Men’s Soccer Headed to NCAA Tournament
By Jack Belanger ’21
After coming from behind in the Big East Tournament Semifinals to beat St. John’s University 2-1, the Providence College Men’s Soccer Team was set to face off against the No. 3 team in the country, the Georgetown University Hoyas, for the Big East Title on Nov. 17 in Washington D.C. The two teams had already faced off earlier in the season when the Friars lost 1-2 after holding the Hoyas scoreless for the first 47 minutes.
Coming into the game on a six-game winning-streak, the Friars started hot out of the gate. Thirteen minutes into the first half, Tiago Mendoca ’20RS gave PC the first lead of the game with a shot from the left side of the box from a pass by Esben Wolf ’23. The Friars would go into halftime leading 1-0.
“We were able to stick to our game plan and play our way in the first half,” said head coach Craig Stewart. “In the second half, Georgetown increased their intensity and tempo.”
In a span of just under 19 minutes, the Hoyas would go from being down 0-1 to being up 2-1. They tied the game after a penalty kick by Dante Polvara in the 55th minute, then took the lead on a free kick from Jack Beer. Even though the Friars managed six shots-on-goal in the second half, the team could not cash in on their opportunities, losing by a final score of 1-3.
Luckily, thanks to a overall record of 14-6 and two wins over top 25 St. John’s, the Friars knew ahead of the game that their season was not going to be over regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game. The only question would be where the team would be placed in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament, also known as the College Cup, bracket.
On Monday, the Friars were informed that they would host a first round round game against the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders, who won the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. Coach Stewart and the rest of the team are excited to play their first game on campus.
“We had a good feeling that we were going to be in the bracket. We love playing here. It’s a great stadium with the crowd and the whole atmosphere.”
Even though the Friars have the home field advantage, Stewart wants to make sure his team stays focused on NJIT before looking ahead at a potential second-round game against Pennsylvania State University.
Stewart said, “They will be coming in with a no-fear type of mentality where they are going to be fighting for everything. The most important thing for us is to respect them as an opponent.”
Despite falling short of the conference title, Stewart believes their run to the finals gave the team valuable lessons they can carry into the national tournament thanks to two games against ranked opponents.
“Coming back against St. John’s showed us that we were capable of playing from behind,” said Stewart. “The disappointment of losing the Georgetown game is a feeling you want to bottle up and make sure we try to avoid that situation again.”
Despite not being selected for the tournament since 2016, there are still a few players from the team that made it all the way to the quarterfinals including All-Big East players Mendoca, Joao Serrano ‘20RS, and Danny Griffin ‘20. Stewart noted that postseason run in 2016 has motivated the seniors to strive to return to the tournament throughout their college careers. Now being leaders of the team, they have been the role models for the younger players. The experience of the senior class will be an advantage the Friars will have over other teams once the tournament begins.
The Friars’ game is set against NJIT is set for Thursday, November 22 at 7 p.m. on Chapey Field.