During the 2011-2012 academic year, a plethora of records, wins, honors and awards were bestowed upon Stevens student athletes and coaches. From sports that have been Stevens traditions as long as the school’s history to those that have been in existence for only several years, the Ducks have proven themselves to be serious competitors in collegiate play.
As the fall season opened, the Ducks found themselves reaching various levels of success in almost all areas of competition. The men’s soccer team won its fifth consecutive Empire 8 conference championship and advanced to the Elite 8 of the NCAA tournament. Men’s lacrosse had the most successful season in Stevens’ 127-year history, winning its first Empire 8 title, breaking the school record for most wins and advancing onto the second round of NCAA tournament play. Junior midfielder Rich Dupres was named Empire 8 Player of the Year, and Coach Gene Peluso received Coach of the Year honors.
The Lady Ducks captured various honors as well. Women’s tennis reached the Empire 8 finals. Freshman Jessica Bourque received Empire 8 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors, while teammates Danielle Stewart and Lisa Tessitore were first team All-Empire 8. Junior Maggie Kowalska was named an All-American in women’s volleyball for the third year. In field hockey, senior Mallory Swanson earned Empire 8 Player of the Year and led the Ducks to second place in regular season finish. Equestrian tied for second in Zone 3 Region 3, with freshman Jessica Spanier and senior Michelle Plotzker finishing third in their respective IHSA zone 3 finals.
“Stevens is very happy with the year and its successes,” said Stevens Athletic Director Russell Rogers. “Every one of our teams qualified for its respective conference tournament. Only the top four teams can do this, so we are very proud.”
The Ducks kept the momentum going into the winter season. Both the women’s and men’s swim teams broke school records. The women’s swim team finished fifth in the nation, while the men’s finished 11th. Individually, freshman Brittany Geyer was an NCAA champion in the 200-yard breaststroke, and Joey Huyett, a sophomore Mechanical Engineering major with a 4.0 GPA, received the Elite 89 Award, which goes to the student athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the East Championship site.
In wrestling, juniors Joey Favia and Ryan Doormann won in conference championship play. Favia earned his third All-American honor, and Doorman advanced to the national level. Men’s volleyball finished second in the conference, and sophomore David Evans was named Conference Player of the Year at the United Volleyball Conference.
Fencing successes included the women’s team advancing to regionals, where junior Crystal Perkins finished 20th. On the men’s team, freshman Jorge Rojas finished 12th at NCAA regionals.
Ducks indoor track boasts a men’s second place conference championship finish. Junior Victor Serveto led the Ducks over the course of the year as pentathlon and heptathlon record-setter. Women’s indoor track freshman Amira Dardir also set new records for high jump and pentathlon.
On the basketball court, the Ducks had two outstanding members break both personal and school records. Senior Simon Smith is now the only Duck to have both 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Finishing with 1416 total points, Smith was also first in school history in rebounds and fourth in career points. He was named to the ECAC second team. On the girls’ team, senior Jillian Barrett crested 1,000 points with a career total of 1,196 points. She was named to the All-Metropolitan Basketball Association’s first team. Both Smith and Barrett were first team Empire 8.
“Overall, the winter sports at Stevens proved to be very successful,” notes Rogers. “It’s always a good sign when athletes are able to break both personal and school records.”
As the spring sports season opened, the Ducks continued to achieve new levels of competitiveness. The baseball team had a ten win improvement from last season, and coach Kristaps Aldwins was named Co-Coach of the Year. The team had two all-region selections, senior TJ Alcorn and sophomore Dan Allen.
The softball team, one of the newest athletic programs at Stevens, also finished well. In only its third year of existence, the team placed third in the highly competitive Empire 8 conference. Sophomore Danielle DeFeo received first team all-conference honors.
The men’s tennis team made it to the second round of NCAA play after capturing its third consecutive Empire 8 championship. Junior Chris Rosensteel was the Empire 8 Men’s Tennis Player of the Year for the second time. In addition to Rosensteel, sophomore Andrew Riggs and freshman Nicolas Rosasco were named to the all-conference first team. Coach Steve Gachko was named Coach of the Year.
As the Ducks took to track and field, more honors were received. The men’s team finished second in Empire 8 play. Junior Sebastian Luna was named Field Athlete of the Year and broke the school record by throwing javelin more than 200 feet. All conference finishers included junior Andrew Cramer (first team), sophomore Joele Okandel (second team), junior Victor Serito (first team in one event and second team in another) and junior Bill Hazen (second team). Lady Ducks team members Amira Dardir (second team), Maggie Cowalska (second team), Grace Python (second team) and Rebecca Tylock (second team) also received respective all-conference honors.
“Here, student athletes and teams continue to represent Stevens in a first class manner, both on and off the field,” said Rogers. “I think the most recent seasons show that all of our teams are competing at a high level and that we are building a successful athletic program across the board.
“On behalf of the entire department, we are very grateful for the university’s support of athletics and plans are well underway for the upcoming seasons,” he added.
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