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Muhlenberg College

Friday, May 30, 2008

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2007-08 year in review

The 2007-08 year was another successful one at Muhlenberg: two conference championships, three teams and three individuals participating in NCAA Championships, eight teams earning national and/or regional rankings, five All-Americans, one Academic All-American, 11 all-region picks, one Centennial Conference player of the year, 25 first-team All-CC athletes, 22 CC Sportsmanship Team honorees, 10 Academic All-District selections and 78 CC Academic Honor Roll members.

Here are the top 10 events (one from each of 10 teams) from the recently concluded year.

1. Football • Nov. 3 • Mules 31, Ursinus 7  How to pick one game from an incredible season filled with incredible moments? This one clinched the outright Centennial Conference championship for the Mules, and the 2007 CC Football Champions rest — a 35-7 win against Moravian to wrap up the first undefeated regular season in program history, a 31-21 win against Salisbury in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, a final national ranking in the top 10 — was just icing on the cake.

Muhlenberg entered the game 8-0 and ranked 12th in Division III, but Ursinus, the preseason favorite to win the CC title, had homefield advantage, was ranked ninth in the region and would have claimed the championship with victories in its last two games. The Mules made sure that didn’t happen, outgaining the Bears, 405-96, and taking an early 14-0 lead with two first-quarter touchdowns.

Muhlenberg went on to finish with an 11-1 record and was ranked eighth in the final D3football.com poll.


2. Women’s Basketball • March 1 • Mules 54, Dickinson 47  This game didn’t decide the Centennial Conference championship; that came the next day, when the Mules beat Gettysburg, 80-65, to capture their fourth CC title. But this 2008 CC Women's Basketball Champions CC semifinal contest had all the intensity and emotion of a championship game, making the actual final seem almost anticlimactic.

Dickinson and its pressure defense had been a giant thorn in Muhlenberg’s side since the previous season. The Red Devils allowed only 34, 42, 35 and 49 points in four straight meetings, the third of which ended the Mules’ 2006-07 season in the CC semifinals. Muhlenberg scored 68 points in winning a regular-season game a week before the playoffs, but the offense struggled again in the playoff meeting, turning the ball over 31 times (more than twice the Mules’ average). Trailing 47-44 with about two minutes left, Muhlenberg used its defense to close the game out on a 10-0 run.

After beating Gettysburg, the Mules fell to DeSales in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to end the season with a 21-7 record.


3. Men’s Lacrosse • April 26 • Mules 9, Ursinus 8  When the top three teams in your conference are all ranked in the top 10 in Division III, finishing fourth is a big deal. It also is if you’re only in your sixth year as a varsity program and went winless in the conference just three years ago.

That was the scenario for Muhlenberg in a regular-season finale that amounted to a first-round playoff game: The winner would qualify for the Centennial Conference playoffs as the fourth seed, and the loser would be out of the playoffs. The game lived up to its billing. The Mules broke a 7-all tie by scoring the first two goals of the fourth quarter, then held off a late Ursinus charge to secure the first playoff berth in program history. The game was played just a short distance from the field on which the Muhlenberg football team dashed Ursinus’ hopes four months earler.

Although the Mules lost to third-ranked Gettysburg in the first round of the CC playoffs, they ended their best season ever with a 10-5 record.


4. Field Hockey • Oct. 26 • Mules 2, Gettysburg 1 (ot)  Senior Night, Family Weekend, a nationally ranked opponent, last game of the regular season, playoff positioning at stake ... the setting couldn’s have been better. Well, except for the rain that poured into Scotty Wood Stadium all night. And the fact that the Mules had lost their last three Centennial Conference games to nationally ranked teams.

Muhlenberg came through with the storybook ending, though, erasing a 1-0 halftime deficit to the 19th-ranked Bullets and winning on a goal 57 seconds into overtime. Combined with other results, the victory gave the Mules the third seed in the CC playoffs, where they lost a tough 2-1 decision to eighth-ranked Johns Hopkins.


5. Men’s Soccer • Oct. 24 • Mules 1, Swarthmore 0 (2ot)  Wind and rain made for a sloppy show in a game between two regionally ranked teams, and the lone goal came when a long shot curled into the top corner of the net with 6:35 left in the second overtime. The victory was the Mules’ first at Swarthmore since 2002 and clinched them a Centennial Conference playoff berth. They would go on to tie for the CC regular-season title and earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.


6. Baseball • April 6 • Mules 8, Johns Hopkins 5  This was a big win at the time: Johns Hopkins came in ranked ninth in Division III and had won its first six Centennial Conference games by a combined 82-13 margin. But it got even bigger when the Blue Jays came within one strike of winning the national championship. The loss, in the second game of a doubleheader, was one of only two suffered by Hopkins in a 32-game span between Spring Break and the NCAA Regionals. For Muhlenberg, the win was a highlight of a 20-20 season that included a trip to the CC playoffs for the first time since 2003.


7. Cross Country • Nov. 12 • NCAA Mideast Regional  Junior David Chorney knew he had qualified for the NCAA Championships after finishing 14th at the Mideast Regional, which Muhlenberg hosted on Saturday, Nov. 10, but classmate Timothy Van Syckle and senior Sara Gearin had to wait until Monday, when the team bids were announced. All three ultimately qualified for the field, marking the first time the Mules sent runners from both genders to the national meet.


8. Women’s Lacrosse • March 22 • Mules 13, Ursinus 8  An early game between Muhlenberg (0-2 in the Centennial Conference coming in) and Ursinus (0-0) proved to be of utmost importance later in the season, when it was the difference in the Mules earning their first CC playoff berth and the Bears being left out of the playoffs for the first time. It was the first win for Muhlenberg in 19 all-time meetings with Ursinus.


9. Women’s Tennis • April 18 • Mules 5, Washington 4  Muhlenberg clinched the third seed in the Centennial Conference playoffs by edging Washington in the last match of the regular season. The Shorewomen led 4-3 with two matches on the court, but the Mules won in three sets at No. 6 singles and in two sets in a grueling No. 5 singles match to end the four-hour marathon.


10. Men’s Golf • Oct. 3 • Messiah Falcon Classic  Muhlenberg outshot the host school by 11 strokes to win the Messiah Falcon Classic for its first tournament title since 2004. The Mules would go on to win two more tournaments during the year and finish second at the Centennial Conference Championships.


Honorable mention
Men’s Basketball • Nov. 16 • Mules 107, Philadelphia Biblical 37
Wrestling • Dec. 1 • Petrofes Invitational
Softball • March 2 • Mules 4, Wartburg 3
Men’s Track & Field • March 8 • ECAC Championships

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