Syracuse University Magazine

SU Athletics



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National Champs!

In one magical Orange weekend in November, the Syracuse men’s cross country team and the field hockey team won NCAA championship titles. On November 21 in Louisville, Coach Chris Fox’s runners claimed three spots in the top 10 and knocked off two-time defending champion Colorado (82 to 91) to give the Orange cross country team its first national crown since 1951. A day later, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Coach Ange Bradley’s field hockey squad completed the Orange title sweep, defeating ACC rival North Carolina, 4-2, in the NCAA final. With the victory, Syracuse collected its first ever national title in a women’s sport. “I’ve been chasing this dream for 25 years,” Bradley told Cuse.com. “I’m so proud of these women who have worked so hard.”

For the Orange women (21-1), it was the finishing touch on a sensational fall that saw them complete the regular season undefeated (16-0) and capture the ACC regular season title. Despite a 2-1 overtime loss in the ACC tourney final to North Carolina, Syracuse received the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament and then lived up to expectations. After posting early-round wins over Massachusetts and Princeton, the Orange women ousted defending champion UConn, 3-1, in the semifinals, and then topped North Carolina to avenge their only loss of the season. It was SU’s second straight trip to the NCAA title game and third Final Four appearance in four years. Goalkeeper Jess Jecko ’16 and midfielders Alyssa Manley ’16, Alma Fenne ’16, and Zoe Wilson ’19 were named to the NCAA All-Tournament team. Forward Emma Russell ’16, who tallied the opening goal for ’Cuse in the title game, became Syracuse’s all-time points leader.

Like the field hockey team, the men’s cross country team was a force to reckon with all season as well. En route to the NCAA championship, the Orange won its second straight Wisconsin Adidas Invitational, claimed its fourth-straight conference title (third ACC), and its third straight NCAA Northeast Regional Championship. In the NCAA meet, SU was powered by the hard-charging trio of Justyn Knight ’18, Colin Bennie ’18, and Martin Hehir ’15, G’16, just as it was all season. Knight crossed the finish line in fourth, covering the 10-kilometer course in 29:46.1, followed by Bennie in eighth (29:55.9), and Hehir in ninth (29:59.5). Phil Germano ’18 (39th) and Joel Hubbard ’17 (47th) capped off SU’s scoring, with Dan Lennon ’16 (65th) and Joe Kush ’16 (123rd) also competing. Knight, Bennie, Hehir, and Germano earned All-America honors for their performances. “They ran like men. They took control at the beginning and never let it go,” Fox told Cuse.com. “They put themselves in a dominant position and said come get me. It was an incredible day…”    —Jay Cox



SU Men's Soccer Reaches First NCAA College Cup

The Syracuse University men’s soccer team journeyed further than any previous soccer team in school history, advancing to the NCAA College Cup (national semifinals) before a heartbreaking loss to Clemson at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, on December 11.

The sixth-seeded Orange and second-seeded Clemson played through a scoreless regulation and two 10-minute sudden-victory overtime sessions, but SU came up short, 4-1, in a penalty kick shootout that gave the win to the Tigers. Eighth-seeded Stanford, which advanced to the final with an 8-7 penalty kick win over Akron, captured the NCAA title two days later with a 4-0 victory over Clemson.

Coach Ian McIntyre’s squad finished the season with a 16-5-4 record and claimed its first ACC championship. In the NCAA tourney, the Orange picked up wins at SU Soccer Stadium over Dartmouth (2-1), Seattle (3-1), and Boston College (1-0) to advance to Kansas City.

Among individual honors, midfielder Julian Buescher ’18 was voted to the College Cup All-Tournament Team as well as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America Second Team. Buescher, who led the team in assists (11) and ranked seventh nationally, was also an All-ACC First Team and ACC All-Tournament Team selection. In addition, he was a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, the highest honor in collegiate soccer, and was named to the NSCAA All-South Region First Team along with forward Ben Polk ’17.

“I think we’re a pretty good team and I think we’ve had a wonderful season," McIntyre said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”



Babers to Lead Orange Football

Former Bowling Green State University head football coach Dino Babers has been named the 30th head coach at Syracuse University. Babers has 30 years of coaching experience and has served as head coach at Eastern Illinois University (2012-13), where he was twice selected as the Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year; and at BGSU (2014-15), where he guided the squad to two Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division titles, the 2015 MAC championship crown, and two straight bowl berths. As a head coach, he has compiled a 37-16 record.

Prior to becoming a head coach, Babers held various coaching positions at a number of institutions, including Baylor, UCLA, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Arizona, San Diego State, Purdue, Northern Arizona, UNLV, Arizona State, and Hawaii, his alma mater, where he played football for four years. Most notably, he coached under Art Briles at Baylor for four seasons (2008-11), where he learned and helped execute the up-tempo spread offense that has become a trademark of Baylor’s rise in the national rankings. Babers instituted the high-powered offense at EIU and BGSU in turning around both programs.


“It is a true honor to have been selected to lead Syracuse University football, a program steeped in rich tradition, excellence, and success, both on and off the field,” Babers said. “There were many coaching opportunities out there, but none more attractive or exciting than this one. I’ve always admired Syracuse football’s scrappy demeanor, grit, and winning mentality, but what attracted me to this position even more is the University’s intense focus on preparing its student-athletes for a lifetime of success. This is an incredible opportunity and one I am thrilled to have been offered.”



Sports Notes

After guiding the Orange men’s cross country team to the NCAA title, head coach Chris Fox was named Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Cross country runner Margo Malone ’16 led the Orange women at the NCAA championship race in Louisville, finishing 52nd in the 6K course with a time of 20:32.6.

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Syracuse field hockey coach Ange Bradley was selected National Coach of the Year by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) in January. Bradley led the Orange women to their first national title in the sport, and the first national crown for a women's program at SU. The NFHCA also named her Coach of the Year in 2008 after leading the field hockey team to its first national semifinal appearance.

Along with Bradley's post-season accolades, several SU field hockey players were recognized as All-Americans by the NFHCA and SynapseSports.com: midfielder Alyssa Manley '16 (first team, NFHCA and Synapsesports.com); back Roos Weers '19 (first team, SynapseSports); forward Alma Fenne '16 (first team, SynapseSports); forward Emma Russell '16 (first team, NFHCA; second team, SynapseSports); midfielder Laura Hurff '18 (first team, NFHCA).

The NCAA champion field hockey team also collected all four major Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) awards: midfielder Alma Fenne ’16, Offensive Player of the Year; midfielder Alyssa Manley '16, Defensive Player of the Year; back Roos Weers ’19, Rookie of the Year; Ange Bradley, Coach of the Year. In addition, three other players were named to the All-ACC Second Team: goalkeeper Jess Jecko ’16, forward Emma Russell ’16, and midfielder Laura Hurff ’18.

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Orange tennis player Anna Shkudun G’16 defeated teammate Valeria Salazar ’17, 6-2, 0-6, 7-5, in the Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional singles championship at Dartmouth College in October. Gabriella Knutson ’19 joined the pair in advancing to the semifinals. Shkudun and Salazar teamed up for a final four finish in the doubles competition.

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The Syracuse men’s basketball team won the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, with a 74-67 victory over No. 25 Texas A&M in the tourney final on November 27. Michael Gbinijie ’15, G’16 scored 20 points in the championship game and was named tournament MVP. Gbinijie was joined on the all-tournament team by Trevor Cooney ’15, G’16. The Orange, unranked at the time, defeated Charlotte (83-70) and No. 18 UConn (79-76) en route to the title game.

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Quentin Hillsman registered his 200th victory as head coach of the SU women's basketball team when the Orange women rolled past 12th-ranked Duke, 86-50, in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener on January 3 in the Carrier Dome.

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The SU football team closed out its 2015 season with a 20-17 victory over Boston College in the Carrier Dome. It was head coach Scott Shafer’s final game with the Orange, which finished the season with a 4-8 record.

Three SU football players were named to the 2015 All-Atlantic Coast Conference football teams. Punter Riley Dixon ’16 was selected to the All-ACC First Team, while wide receiver Brisly Estime ’17 was named to the third team as a return specialist, along with defensive end Ron Thompson ’17.