Roma McLaughlin in action for the Blue Devils.
By John Manley
When the women’s basketball team of St. Joseph’s University of Philadelphia took to the court in New York to face off against Columbia in the season opener for both teams last Thursday their future begged definition, a theme. By evening’s end, all indications were that the next four years will probably go down in school lore as the Claire Melia era.
The 6-3 freshman out of Monasterevin, Co. Kildare took immediate aim on the school records set some 20 years prior by County Offaly’s Susan Moran, who now serves the program on the bench as Associate Head Coach, where she goes by her married name of Susan Lavin. In a 71-57 Hawks win, Melia scorched the twine for a game-high 23 points, hitting seven of nine field goal attempts, including both flyers from Amsterdam Avenue, as well as seven of eight free throws. She also recorded a game-high four assists, along with two blocked shots and one steal.
“We won as a team, and now we move on to the next game,” Melia said. “I don’t care about the points. I just went out there and enjoyed myself.”
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The women’s cross country team from Adams State is keeping the pedal to the floor. After sweeping the top five spots in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference race two weeks ago, they placed five runners in the top 10 in the South Central Regional in Range Canyon, Texas to easily qualify for the NCAA Division 2 championship race next Saturday in Sacramento. Leading the way once again for the Grizzlies was Stephanie Cotter. The sophomore out of Cork broke the tape in 20:53.5 for 6,000 meters. Next in at 21:01.8 was teammate Eilish Flanagan, a senior from Gortin, Co. Tyrone.
Both the men’s and women’s teams of St. Leo University qualified for Sacramento at the South Regional in Lakeland, Florida. A St. Leo trio of men finished in tandem in 14th, 15th and 16th places to help the Lions secure the third and final qualifying spot out of this region. Tadgh McGinty, a junior from Swinford, Co. Mayo, finished 14th in 32:48.9, just ahead of Shawn Bell, with another Mayo junior, Foxford’s Shane Bracken, along in 32:49.8. Benedict’s Mathew Chesum led the field home in 31:48.9, more than half a minute ahead of the runner-up.
St. Leo’s women also took third place in their race, helped by Aoife Mahony, a sophomore from Listowel, Co. Kerry, who got 43rd place with a time of 23:42.3. Celine Ritter of Lee University ran a winning 21:41.9.
Meanwhile, in the Southeast Regional in Wingate, North Carolina, Carson-Newman’s Conal McCambridge got 35th place. The grad student from Glengormley, Co. Antrim was caught in 33:18.2. He was the first one home for the Eagles, who finished 14th among teams.
Mick D’Arcy interviewed.
BLUE DEVILS PHOTOS BY STEVE MCLAUGHLIN
Roma McLoughlin knocked in the only goal of the match to lift Central Connecticut State to a 1-0 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson in the championship tilt of the Northeast Conference tournament in New Britain, Connecticut on Sunday. McLoughlin, a sophomore from Greencastle, Co. Donegal, scored her 10th goal of the season in the 18th minute of the match. Amanda McQuillan, a sophomore from Johnstown, Co. Meath, was in goal for the Blue Devils and made one diving save to preserve the victory.
“It’s a fantastic feeling,” said Mick D’Arcy, a Dublin native who was raised in Naas, Co. Kildare, now in his 20th season as Head Coach of the Blue Devils. “They worked hard for this and we knew that if we could get [the championship match] back here on campus, we’d have a great chance. We had a stutter at the beginning [of the season], but then went on a fantastic run. The odds were against us hosting after the first couple games, but seven wins in a row to get it back here was great.”
CCSU (12-4-4) advances to the NCAA Division 1 tournament, beginning with an appointment against Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey on Friday evening.
Jenny Nagle scored the first goal of the match and that held up as the winning tally as Cardinal Stritch defeated Holy Cross of Indiana, 5-0, in semifinal action of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference in Milwaukee on Friday. Nagle is a junior from Mallow, Co. Cork. Stritch is now 13-5-1.
David Coffey saving a penalty kick.
David Coffey stopped two shots in the penalty round to send Lindsey Wilson College on to the finals of the Mid-South Conference tournament. The Blue Raiders and the University of the Cumberlands finished Sunday’s semifinal match tied at 2 after two overtime periods. Coffey, a junior from Cork, had stopped two Patriots shots prior to the penalty phase, which LWC won, 2-0. Next up for the Blue Raiders (12-3-1) is Life University in Saturday’s title match in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Nathan Clifford iced the cake in Chowan’s 5-0 win over Lees-McRae at home on Saturday in first-round action in the Conference Carolinas tournament. The goal, which came in the 80th minute, was the first of the season for the junior from Dublin. The Hawks (11-4-1) next face Limestone on Friday.
As time was running down in regulation, Adam Kennedy scored the final goal of the match for Coker in a 5-1 road triumph over Carson-Newman in quarterfinal play of the South Atlantic Conference tournament on Saturday. He is a junior from Crumlin, Co. Antrim. The Cobras bring a 10-7 mark into Friday’s semifinal match at Anderson.
Senan Gilcreest scored his first goal of the season late in the match to keep Wheeling from getting whitewashed. The Cardinals got their wings clipped, 3-1, by Notre Dame of Ohio last Monday in a road contest. Gilcreest is a senior from County Cavan. Wheeling, coached by Belfast native Jim Regan, finished the season with a 2-1 victory over West Liberty on Sunday to wrap up a 3-15 campaign.
Dylan O’Kane sent a corner kick into the box that was finished off by a teammate for the final goal in Wingate’s 7-0 win over Catawba at home last Wednesday. O’Kane, a senior from Bangor, Co. Down, has two assists on the season for the Bulldogs (11-2-3).
Aaron Molloy got credit for an assist on Penn State’s second goal of the match as the Nittany Lions advanced in the Big 10 tournament with a 3-0 victory at home over Wisconsin on Sunday. Molloy is a senior from Dublin. Next up for Penn State (12-2-3) is Michigan on Friday in College Park, Maryland.
A corner kick from Jesse Stafford Lacey was headed in by teammate Ethan Garvey for the first goal of the match in Evansville’s 2-1 road loss to Bradley on Saturday. That was the second assist of the season for Stafford Lacey, a senior from Banna, Co. Kerry. The Purple Aces (2-14-1) and Bradley meet up again on Wednesday in first-round action of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
Brian McGivern, a junior from Dublin, set up the fourth goal for Bridgeport in the Purple Knights’ 5-0 home win over Roberts Wesleyan on Saturday. The two squads will meet again on Wednesday in semifinal action of the East Coast Conference tournament. Bridgeport is 10-5-1.
Yasmin Pratt scored two goals to lead Monmouth past California, 4-3, in first-round action of the America East Conference tournament in West Long Branch, New Jersey on Friday. Kate O’Hogan was in goal for the Hawks and the Dublin sophomore registered three saves. Despite 10 saves from O’Hogan in Sunday’s title tilt against Stanford, the Hawks fell, 2-1, to the Cardinals. Both O’Hogan and Pratt earned America East All-Championship team honors for their play in this tournament. Monmouth finished the season with a 14-5 record.