WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – The documented Little East Conference leader on the academic side in recent years, Eastern Connecticut State University has risen to the very top in the athletic arena in 2016-17, as well.
A serious challenger for top athletic honors throughout the first 16 years of the Commissioner’s Cup – finishing second nine times and third three times in the previous 14 years – Eastern ascended to the top in 2016-17 on the strength of five first-place finishes in regular-season play this past year in winning its first cup championship.
“This isn’t an honor reflecting only performances this year, it is another example of the tradition of excellence in Eastern athletics,” said Lori Runksmeier, who recently completed her second year as director of athletics at Eastern. “I am proud of the hard work our coaches and student-athletes put into everything they do and by winning the Little East Conference’s Presidents’ Cup (highest departmental GPA) in each of the past two years (2014-15 and 2015-16), and now winning the Commissioner’s Cup makes it a great day to be a Warrior.”
The Commissioner’s Cup measures the overall performance of the league’s eight primary institutions in the LEC’s 19 sponsored sports. For sports in which the conference conducts in-season play (baseball, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball), points are determined by the ranked order of finish in the final regular season standings. For sports that do not conduct in-season play (cross country, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, swimming and diving), points are awarded based on the order of finish in the conference championship meet.
“Congratulations to the Eastern Connecticut State University administration, coaches and student-athletes on earning their first Commissioner's Cup (the LEC's highest athletic award),” said Little East Commissioner Cora H. Brumley. “The Warriors exemplify the NCAA Division III philosophy by excelling both on and off the field of play and are ushering in a new era of competitiveness in the LEC!”
Eastern and its student-athletes experienced consistent success throughout the entire 2016-17 season, with the overall consistency among all of its athletic programs ensured the Warriors their first cup.
In regular-season conference play, Eastern posted a record of 67-33-1 for a winning percentage just under 67 percent (66.9). Neither women’s lacrosse (6-0) nor women’s soccer (6-0-1) lost a match en route to regular-season LEC titles and were joined by regular-season champion men’s (11-3) and women’s (12-2) basketball, with softball (8-6) gaining a share of first place in the regular season. Nine of ten programs were seeded fourth or higher in LEC post-season play.
This past year, nine Eastern individuals received major LEC awards. Player-of-the-Year and Defensive Player-of-the-Year honors went to senior men’s basketball All-America Hugh Lindo (Enfield); Defensive Player-of-the-Year recognition went to seniors Emmanuel Caicedo (Manchester) and Devyne Doran (South Kingstown, RI) in men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse, respectively; and senior All-America Alex Zachary (Enfield) was named Player-of-the-Year in baseball. In addition, freshmen Carlos Gonzalez (Springfield, MA) and Mya Villard (Cromwell) were each selected Rookie-of-the-Year in men’s and women’s basketball, respectively; and head coaches Christine Hutchison and Bill Geitner were each tabbed as Coach-of-the-Year in women’s lacrosse and men’s basketball, respectively.
The historic competitive success the LEC has achieved throughout the 30 years, beginning as a basketball only conference in 1986 and expanding into today’s 19-Championship Sport Conference, will continue to make academic and athletic strides as the LEC continues to be the premier Division III conference of the New England region.
The Little East Conference was formed in 1986 when six public institutions gathered to create a single sport athletic conference and has expanded into what is now New England’s premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. The LEC features 19 Championship Sports and sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes while following the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.
2016-17 COMMISSIONER’S CUP STANDINGS
(Average points in parentheses)
1. EASTERN CONNECTICUT (5.735)
2. Keene State College (5.500)
3. UMass Boston (5.000)
4. UMass Dartmouth (4.842)
5. Southern Maine (4.833
6. Plymouth State (4.583
7. Western Connecticut (4.269
8. Rhode Island College (4.000)