2010-11 athletic year one for the ages

Mercyhurst is known nationally for having one of the top intelligence studies programs in the country.

One thing not commonly associated with Mercyhurst is dominant athletics.

Until last year, there were a handful of solid teams from year to year, but not across the board. That all changed during the 2010-2011 athletic year.

Sixteen Mercyhurst teams made their respective league playoffs while six coaches were named Coach of the Year winners. These numbers do not even include countless first team all-conference winners. By all accounts, the 2010-2011 athletic year was one of the best in school history.

Mercyhurst hosted the 2011 Women’s Frozen Four at nearby Tullio Arena. The football team won the PSAC West and hosted its first ever NCAA playoff game. The baseball team won the PSAC conference tournament and went deep into the NCAA playoffs. To top of the year for Mercyhurst, the men’s lacrosse team won the Division II National Championship.

With only two Division I programs, men’s and women’s hockey, it is even more difficult to bring recognition to the year Laker athletes had.

The football team set the tone with two program firsts, a 10-win season and a PSAC Championship. Led by 1,300-yard running back Gerald Anderson and PSAC West defensive player of the year Bryan Boyce, the Lakers knocked off three-ranked opponents before losing in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

The trend continued with men’s soccer landing the top spot in the Atlantic Region with a 13-3 overall record. Christoph Hampel was the first Laker since 2006 to be named to the Division II All-America Team. Arash Fahandezh, Alex Mane and Hampel were named first team All-Atlantic Region.

The Lakers weren’t done in the fall, either. Senior Andy Sekulski, men’s water polo, was named the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches Player of the Year. The team finished with an 18-10 record, the most victories in program history.

Despite the snowy winter that swept over Erie, nothing could cool off the Lakers.

Men’s basketball began the season 8-1. Enjoying an 11 game winning streak, the Lakers finished the season with a 20-7 record. Coach Gary Manchel was named Coach of the Year, and star Heiden Ratner earned All-PSAC honors and was named to the NABC Atlantic first team.

Continuing the trend was women’s hockey. Heading into the season, expectations were high with the Frozen Four coming to Erie. The Lakers responded with a 29-6 record, while going undefeated in the conference and capturing the CHA title.

Senior captain Meghan Agosta broke the NCAA record for goals in a career and was a Patty Kazmaier finalist for a record fourth time. Despite not making the Frozen Four, it was another dominant season for the team.

Despite the excellent year through the winter, the best was still to come.

The softball team posted their best season since 1991. With the addition of Samantha Eimers, All-PSAC first team, the team finished with a 24-20 mark despite 32 games on the road.

Eimers was one of many Mercyhurst women to make first team in their respective conferences in the spring, joining her were women’s lacrosse players Kimberly Masterton, Ally Keirn and Maggie Yackel; tennis star Kim Ezzo; and water polo’s Rachel Griepsma. There were also numerous second and third team selections across each sport.

The men finished the year equally as decorated. Baseball finished with a program best 42 victories, earning coach Joe Spano Coach of the Year honors.

The men’s lacrosse team provided a fitting end to an amazing year, the Division II National Championship.

“Mercyhurst has never seen anything like it. It is great to not only win, but to put Mercyhurst on that platform,” men’s lacrosse Coach Chris Ryan said of the year.

The 2010-2011 year is one for the ages. The Lakers are already hard at work to match it with victories in football and men and women’s soccer to open the year strong.