2011-12 Coker Athletics Year in Review

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – It has been just a few months since the Coker Cobra athletic teams completed their 2011-12 campaigns, but already the coaches, staff and student-athletes are hard at work preparing for the next season. But before we begin next season, let’s take a look back at what an outstanding year the Cobras had in 2011-12 with a year in review.

Overall, it was an amazing year in Coker Athletics. We captured two Conference Carolinas Championships (men’s soccer & men’s golf), we advanced to the NCAA Tournament in two sports (men’s soccer & men’s golf), we had four players named Academic All-Americans, 20 student-athletes were named All-Conference, 16 were named Academic All-Conference, we had 10 Conference Carolinas Players of the Week, a Conference Carolinas Coach and Player of the Year, five All-Region selections and an NSCAA All-American.

MEN’S SOCCER

The Cobras captured their second Conference Carolinas Tournament title in the last three years and their first regular season championship in 2011. They advanced to and hosted the NCAA Southeast Regional, a first on both accounts at Coker. They finished the year with a record of 18-3 overall and 10-1 in conference play. They finished the season ranked No. 18 in the nation, but they were ranked has high as No. 5 during the season.

They cleaned house at the Conference Carolinas awards ceremony, as seven players received All-Conference honors. Juniors Carlos Recinos, Rommel Fondin and James Sweeney, along with sophomore Atticus Lum and freshman Fernando Bedoya were named first team all-conference. Sophomore Stephen Scrivens was a second team all-conference selection and Carlos Recinos was named Conference Carolinas Player of the Year and head coach Paul Leese was named Coach of the Year.

Juniors Alan Cuevas and Noah Lascell, along with sophomores Niko Tirkonen, Tyler Staub and Brendan McCarron were named to the Conference Carolinas All-Tournament Team and Lascell was the tournament’s most valuable player.

In addition to their conference accolades several players received regional and national recognition. Recinos, Bedoya and Sweeney were named to the Daktronics All-Southeast Region first team. Recinos, Bedoya, Sweeney, along with Fondin and Lum were named to the NSCAA All-Southeast Region first team.

Bedoya was also selected as an NSCAA/Continental Tire Third Team All-American.

In addition to their on the field accolades, these boys were scholars in the classroom. Sweeney, Staub, Lascell and David Pent were academic all-conference selections. Sweeney and Staub were also named to the Capital One Academic All-District Team, and Sweeney was named to the Capital One Academic All-American First Team and was named the Conference Carolinas Men’s Soccer Scholar Athlete of the Year.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

It was a difficult season for the Cobras, but the future looks very bright for this young group of women. Under the direction of first-year head coach Dan Muns, the Cobras had two players named academic all-conference, juniors Morgan Hartline and Sarah Kinsey. They also had a third team all-conference selection, junior Sarah Rountree. As a team these young women received an especially high honor, they were named a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Team Academic Award winner for having a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or higher.

On the field they were 1-16-1 with a 2-1 overtime win against North Greenville and a double OT tie against Barton. They lost five matches by one goal.

CROSS COUNTRY

Starting with the women’s team; the Cobras had a successful season as they finished in the top 10 in four meets. They were named a Division II All-Academic Team by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and senior Robyn Risher was named academic all-conference.

The Cobra men, like their female counterparts had a successful year. They placed in the top 10 in five meets, including two top 5 finishes. Freshman Brandon Cain was named all-conference and was the Conference Carolinas Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for the week Sept. 21.

Freshman Dylan Bates was named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic Division II Cross Country Team and junior Thad Sulek was named academic all-conference.

VOLLEYBALL

In their second year under the direction of head coach Todd Caughlin, the Cobras made some big improvements finishing the year with a record of 9-19 overall and 6-11 in conference. They finished fifth in the East Division.

Their season included a 4-0 start to begin the year, as well as several big conference wins, including a pair of 3-2 wins over North Greenville and Pfeiffer, as well as a 3-0 win over Mount Olive.

Junior Taylor Willis was named third team all-conference.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Led by head coach Jenny Finora in her second year, the Cobras finished the season winning 11 of their final 15 games, advancing to the Conference tournament for the first time since 2009.

They finished the season fifth in the conference and third in the East Division, with a record of 11-6 in conference and an 11-16 overall record.

They set a new record for most points in a game with 114 against St. Andrews on Jan. 10 and they had two players named to all-conference teams, junior Amber Lau was a first team selection and junior Jessica Cohen was a third team selection.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

This season the Cobra men’s basketball team was successful once again finishing with a record of 14-13 overall and 8-8 in conference play.

They were sixth in the conference and fourth in the East Division. They closed out the year winning six of their last seven games.

They had two players named third team all-conference; juniors Sharod Williams and Andrew Morris. While, junior Jonathon Gardener was named academic all-conference.

WOMEN’S TENNIS

Led by first-year head coach Tom Simpson, the Cobra women finished 9-12 overall, and were fifth in the conference with a record of 7-4.

Senior Alyssa Blanchard and sophomore Cora Berna both earned first team all-conference honors. Blanchard finished out her career as the winningest women’s tennis player at Coker. She compiled a record of 9-2 in singles and 7-3 in doubles during her senior campaign.

Berna had an outstanding season, going 10-1 in conference singles play. In addition to her first team all-conference award, she received the Coker women’s tennis coaches award.

MEN’S TENNIS

Also led by first-year head coach Tom Simpson, the Coker men’s team also had a very good season. They placed fifth in the conference standings and finished third at the conference tournament. They had a record of 9-14 overall and were 6-4 in conference.

Sophomore Manel Estruga was named second team all-conference with a record of 10-1 in Conference Carolinas singles play. He was also named to the Conference Carolinas All-Tournament team.

Guillermo Aylon was named Conference Player of the Week and Leonardo Lima was also named to the Conference Carolinas All-Tournament team.

WOMEN’S GOLF

In their second season, the women’s golf team made some huge strides on the course. They finished in the top 10 in five tournaments and they finished in the top 15 in nine tournaments.

The women were led by freshman Sara Allen. She led the team with the lowest stroke average for the year and her scores were counted in nearly every round. Allen finished in the top five at the Mount Olive Spring Invitational and was a top 10 finisher at Anderson Invitational during the season.

MEN’S GOLF

Led by head coach Tommy Baker, the Cobras captured their first Conference Carolinas Championship since 2006. Not only did they win the conference championship, but they also won it in dramatic fashion, coming back from an 18-stroke deficit in the last round to win.

With their victory at the conference tournament Coker advanced to the NCAA South/Southeast Regional for the first time since 2009.

The men finished in the top five in six tournaments in 2011-12 and they completed their season with an 11th place finish at the NCAA regional.

Junior Jake Murphy was named first team all-conference and senior Jared Crane received second team all-conference honors. Freshman Christopher Fuga and sophomore Josh Clay were named to the all-tournament team, while senior Diego Polo and sophomore Matt Kreider received academic all-conference honors.

SOFTBALL

In his 20th year leading the Cobras, head coach David Hanna reached a career milestone this season, win No. 700. His 700th win came on Feb. 10 with a 9-0 win over future South Atlantic Conference opponent, Mars Hill.

This season the women finished 19-24 overall and were 10-11 in conference play. They finished in seventh place overall in the conference and they were third in the East division.

The team had several academic and athletic accomplishments this season. They had three all-conference performers with Sydney Weatherford receiving first team all-conference Honors and Bryant McLendon and Stacy Burr were named second team all-conference. Jaclin Poole was named to the all-tournament team. They had three NFCA All-America Scholars, Burr, Katie McElveen and Poole. Burr, McElveen and Jenny Sanborn were also named to the academic all-conference team.

LACROSSE

In their very first season of competition the Cobras finished the season with a record of 2-14 overall.

They were fifth in the conference with a record of 1-4.

Led by head coach Tony Smith, the Cobras won the first-ever lacrosse game at Coker, a 14-7 victory over Shorter on Feb. 10. They also defeated Lees-McRae College 10-4.

Freshman midfielder Keith LaClair was named third team all-conference. He scored 31 goals and had nine assists.

BASEBALL

This year the baseball team finished with an even 23-23 record, going 13-14 in conference play, finishing seventh in the conference and third in the East Division.

They had a seven game winning streak from Feb. 21 – March 5 and they won four games with walk-off hits. Coker also had a pair of wins over nationally ranked No. 8 UNC Pembroke.

Individually, seniors Brenden Burns and Matt Bowman, along with junior Frank Suarez were named academic all-conference. Sophomore Andrew Goot was named Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week, as well as National Pitcher of the Week and junior Chad Nader received Conference Carolinas Player of the Week honors.