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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Best of Winter/Spring Sports

Photo courtesy of UMB Athletics
Photo courtesy of UMB Athletics

2006 has had captivating sports stories. Men’s basketball won the conference championships. Women’s hockey and men’s lacrosse reached the conference semifinals. and challenged powerhouse teams. Women’s softball had a seven-game unbeaten streak, longest in team history.

How good were winter and spring sports? I brought out my trusty excel spreadsheet, and calculated a cumulative win-loss record. I did the same for last year.

Was there improvement? YES. Team winning percentages were nearly 10 percentage points higher this year: 41 versus 32 percent in 2005.

Several sports do struggle. Men’s hockey went winless, albeit fighting a strong Tufts team to a 2-2 tie at season’s end. Men’s tennis has won one of nine matches. Coach David MacBurnie sees greater success with more match experience.

But all in all, there’s hope. The sports program is significantly improved and all indications point to that continuing.

Certainly win-loss record is not the only yardstick to measure by. Teams had other things going for them. Melissa Belmonte called the Women’s hockey team a “family,” and Charles Yuan said the Men’s basketball team was more committed with fewer egos this year. Andrea Ciarletta pointed to the Women’s softball team’s ability to “mesh” with the many underclassmen.

With that said, here are the feel-good stories of the winter and spring.

Men’s Basketball: Gotta start here. They shocked the conference, whose coaches picked the Beacons to finish second-to-last in a preseason poll. The Beacons won the conference championships instead. Their road was not easy – they had to defeat the number three and one seeds en route. The Beacons got a full-length article in the Boston Globe afterwards (not to mention front-page status in this upstanding paper).

Women’s Hockey: Talk about a feel-good story. Women’s hockey did not exist here before seniors arrived on campus four years ago. In short time, they built a winning program culminating this year with a solid 15-10-1 record. They had three separate leads against number three ranked Manhattanville in their last game. Coach Maura Crowell predicts big things for the Beacons, including challenging for the conference championships, in 2006-07. Beyond the victories, the team was the most tight-knit on campus. This is a pretty special group.

Women’s Softball: Many players spilled over from women’s hockey into softball. It showed. The team went on a seven-game unbeaten streak in which it outscored the opposition 66-38. The dominating play signaled strong hope for the present and future of the program.

“This is the first real step toward a rebuilding process,” said Coach Amy Zombeck, in describing the Beacons’ accomplishments to-date following reaching the seventh win of the season, more than they had all of last year. “With our younger players and leadership from seniors, I look forward to the future.”

Men’s Lacrosse: What can you say? Men’s lacrosse has the most successful program at UMass Boston. Their record the last 13 seasons is 118-70. With six of last year’s seven highest point-getters departed, Coach Myles Berry showed once again he could develop young talent. The team has amassed a solid 11-5 record and third place in the conference. They reached the conference semifinals, challenging defending champion Keene State before falling 10-7. The Beacons were up 5-4 in the third quarter before Keene State rallied.

Keene State Coach Mark Theriault called the game a “scary day.” More and more Beacons opponents share the sentiment.