June 29, 2004
The 2003-2004 athletic season will certainly be remembered as one in which Siena put itself on the national map, and in some cases off it. Siena's student-athletes went to some amazing places this past year.
Some spent their summer vacation spiking volleyballs in the sand of beautiful Trinidad, while others were slamming basketballs on the shores of the Mayan Riviera in Cancun. From the Atlantic Ocean in Maine and Miami in the fall, to Mailbu, California atop the cliffs on the Pacific, and many points in between, Siena athletics was there this past year.
Spring break was spent in the foothills of the Oldest Mountains in the United States in Historic Virginia for some of Siena's student-athletes, while others competed among the commotion of Daytona Beach. Several were even lucky enough to play baseball against the backdrop of Mardis Gras in New Orleans, where the Saints earned an upset victory over one of the top pitching prospects in the country. Or luckier still, others hopped a flight with their head coach back to her home state of Hawai'i in early March.
Conference championships were held at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in both the fall and spring, where the Siena women's golf team captured its fourth consecutive championship.
And while all this might all sound like one heck of a vacation, in every instance Siena's student athletes represented the College in a first class matter, and in most cases left the locals with an impression of Siena athletics they will not soon forget. Perhaps it was an unexpected victory, but in most cases it was a realization of the type of people Siena produces, the type of student athletes we strive to recruit here. And to that end there can be no doubt this season was one full of successes.
For a comprehensive review of the 2003-2004 season, a brief summary of ache team's season follows:
Women's Basketball (17-11/13-5 MAAC; T 1st)
The 2003-2004 season was one of extremes, and one that firmly established the Siena women's basketball program as a modern day dynasty in the MAAC. The surging Saints won seven of their last eight games, and closed the season on a six-game winning streak marked with enthused play and enhanced team chemistry. The Saints rallied around their senior leadership and when all was said and done another MAAC Championship was added to the rafters in the Alumni Recreation Center. It was year in which heart and desire had an answer for all questions and doubts, and the word Champion took on a new meaning. We were all inspired and reminded of what can be achieved when belief, effort and teamwork come together.
Women's Volleyball (5-21/2-7 MAAC; 9th)
The Saints enjoyed many individual accolades during an otherwise challenging 2003 season under first year Head Coach Garvey Pierre. Christie Gustafson and Katie Borrett book ended the season with MAAC Rookie of the Week honors, and Lauren Weber was named to the MAAC Second Team. Weber finished her career as the school's all-time leader in digs and finishing second in kills, the only player in school history to rank in the top three in each category.
Men's Lacrosse (4-9/2-6 MAAC; 7th)
The 2004 season was met with much anticipation, and the 4-9 record was not indicative of what strides the program has made. The team finished the season with two wins and six losses in the MAAC, beating Wagner and VMI. The highlight of the year came in a four game winning streak to end the season; the program's longest since 1997. The run began with a shocking 7-6 upset of 2004 American East Champion, Binghamton-ranked in the top 30 nationally. To conclude the season on senior day in front of 400 fans, the Saints finished with an overtime triumph over VMI; in a game that won't soon be forgotten. In summation, Olympic Champion Sprinter Wilma Rudolph once said "Its not how you start the race but rather how you finish" GREAT finish Men's Lacrosse.
Women's Soccer (9-7-1/5-3-1 MAAC; 5th)
The senior laden women's soccer team enjoyed its second winning season in the past three years. The Saints opened the season with a 2-1 overtime loss to Central Conn., which ultimately advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. That setback was followed up with a narrow 3-2 loss to regional power St. John's before wins over Temple and Lafayette. The team ended the season with a 5-1-1 record in its last 7 games and just missed out on a MAAC Tournament bid.
Men's Tennis (6-12/3-4 MAAC; 5th)
Five was the number for the men's tennis team, as the Saints posted five Wins and five losses against MAAC competition and finished 5th at the MAAC Championships. The fifth place finish tied the program's best in the 14 years it has competed in the MAAC, matching the mark set by the 1992-93 team. In addition, 5 players made the MAAC All-Academic team, the highest number of any MAAC team
Baseball (27-26/13-12 MAAC; 6th)
The Siena baseball team posted just its first winning season since 1999, with a strong out of conference showing. The Saints won five games against southern powers, taking the series from South Alabama and UNC-Charlotte and beating a potential first round draft pick in a win at the University of New Orleans. The team was is in the thick of the MAAC race until the final day of the season, just missing out on a trip to the conference tournament. Legendary Head Coach Tony Rossi completed his 35th season coaching the Saints-far and away the longest streak by any coach in any sport in school history. Senior pitcher Ryan Bitter was drafted following the season by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 22nd Round. Classmate Blake Hanan signed a professional contract with the Baltimore Orioles.
Women's Golf (MAAC Champions)
The women's golf team equaled women's volleyball's seven-year old school record with its fourth consecutive MAAC Championship. The success was a major result of the efforts of the two senior members of this year's team, Shawna Carroll and Bridgette Palin. Earlier this season in the Lehigh tournament victory, Carroll finished the last four holes one under par allowing the Saints to beat Hofstra by 6 strokes. Palin set her career low, firing a 77 in the Northern Illinois Tournament in Sebring, Fla. and teammate Megan Angis also earned the best score of her career with a 79. At the Tournament, the team also set a program record with a tournament low score of 316.In a testament to the team's balance, Jillian Blanchard led the way with a 72 at the Bryan Invitational.
Women's Tennis (10-7/3-4 MAAC; 5th)
The Women's Tennis team finished in the middle of the MAAC this year, posting an overall winning record. The highlights of the year were the trip to the "Big Green Invitational" at Dartmouth in the fall where Siena was well represented against the best teams and players in the region. The team also finished the season the right way, winning their last two matches of the season at the MAAC Tournament.
Women's Lacrosse (5-12/3-3 MAAC; T 3rd)
Siena Women's Lacrosse finished with a 5-12 record and a 3-3 mark in conference play. Siena finished the season in a third place tie in the MAAC standings, but lost out on a four-way tiebreaker, falling short of qualifying for the conference championships. It was the program's best finish in its eight years of existence and the most victories by the Siena women's lacrosse team ever. Two Saints were selected to the All-MAAC team, including senior Stephanie Petrucelli who made her second straight appearance on an All-MAAC team after becoming the program's all-time leading scorer. In addition, Five Saints were selected to the All-Academic Team.
Softball (14-33/5-11 MAAC; 9th)
The softball season was filled with its up and downs, as key injuries have played a role in the team coming up short of a repeat trip to the MAAC Championships. Sophomore sensation Tara Campbell was named MAAC and ECAC Pitcher of the Week, and tossed a no-hitter at Iona. Senior captain Veronica Arredondo was selected All-MAAC.
Men's Bassketball (14-16/9-9 MAAC; 6th)
The 2003-2004 season tested the resolve of everyone involved with the Siena men's basketball program. If success is measured purely by wins and losses, one might be quick to write off the year as a disappointment. A season that began with an 11-day excursion to Mexico and started with three promising wins, seemed to take an irreversible turn for the worse with a 10-game losing streak that spanned 35 days. But when the character of the Program was tested, the team responded with an inspired finish that left us cheering as they left the court for the last time following the MAAC semifinals. It was a finish that allowed this year's senior class to finish of their remarkable careers the right way.
Men's Soccer (6-12-1/5-3-1 MAAC; 4th)
The men's soccer team enjoyed a successful season in which they were in the hunt for the MAAC regular-season championship until the final week of the season. The Saints finished fourth in the MAAC posting a 5-3-1 conference record. After dropping its first five games of the season, the team earned its first victory over Buffalo and after dropping a contest to Vermont, went onto win five of its first six MAAC games. Siena led all MAAC schools with six members placed on the conference All-Academic Team and two players earned Second Team All-MAAC honors.
Water Polo (2-11/0-5 MAAC; 6th)
Water Polo continued to make strides in its third year of existence, winning two games, and competing admirably against the MAAC's best. The highlight of the season came in a home-opening demolition of Utica, which preceded a narrow one-goal loss to rival Marist. The Saints just missed out on qualifying for the conference championships, but appear on the verge of making that next step in the near future.
Field Hockey (3-13/2-3 NEC)
The Siena field hockey team broke through in the fall, advancing to the NEC Tournament for the first time in program history. Paced by the program's second all-time leading scorer Lacee Iselo advanced to the field of four with key league wins over St. Francis and Monmouth. The program's most successful senior class ever graduated, but the future looks bright for this upstart team.
Cross Country (Women: 3rd/10; Men: 7th/10)
Another program on the move, is the ever-improving cross country team coached by Jim Bowles. This season, the Saints enjoyed great success, as the women raced to a third place finish in the MAAC Championships, while the men placed seventh. Along the way, the women earned the top score at the Fairfield Invitational, defeating highly regarded Sacred Heart for the first time in program history. Led by Pat Gaffney, the men made great strides as well this year, knocking off several seconds from their individual bests. Both the men and women also earned recognition as an Academic All-American Team, the women claiming the honor with distinction.
Football (0-11/0-5 MAAC; 6th)
Easily the most difficult decision regarding Siena athletics this past season was the move to discontinue the football program. Clearly the decision was in no way a reflection of the hard work and commitment of the members of this year's team, which endured key injuries and a challenging schedule.
Women's Swimming and Diving (6-4 overall; 4th MAAC Championships* *= Disqualified)
The Saints continued to make waves in just the program's fourth year of existence. The women's swimming and diving program placed fourth at this year's MAAC Championships despite having a limited roster. The women on the team competed with the MAAC's best, as Siena's swimmers will be found at or near the top of many of the conference's top times this past season. Led by sophomore Dana Golino's who claimed the MAAC title in the 100, the women racked up five victories this season, and with a solid core returning the climb up the MAAC standings figures to continue.
Men's Golf (MAAC Runner-Up)
Last, but certainly not least, the men's golf team enjoyed arguably its most successful season ever. Three Saints placed in the top-10 individually at the MAAC Championships as Siena placed second among the 10 MAAC members. Other highlights included second places finishes at Lafayette and Hofstra and a Tournament Championship at the LeHigh Invitational in the Fall. The team also was the runner-up at the Ft. Lauderdale Classic in late March.