March 25, 2012

Sacred Heart Defeats #1 Fairleigh Dickinson to Claim Northeast Conference Championship

Northeast Conference Championship Headquarters

Reading, PA – The #8 SHU women's bowling team won its second NEC crown in three seasons with a dramatic 4-3 victory over #1 Fairleigh Dickinson Sunday afternoon.  SHU was able to hold off a furious FDU comeback as the Pioneers took the first three games of the best-of-seven only to go the distance before closing out the reigning champs.  Sacred Heart finished the tournament with a perfect 4-0 overall record, reaching the championship match with three wins yesterday.  The Knights survived an elimination match this morning by knocking off New Jersey City to reach the title tilt. 

"Everyone on the roster had a shining moment this weekend that helped the team win that game and eventually the match," said SHU head coach Becky Kregling.

Erin Weinmann (Temple, PA) started off the championship match on fire, converting six straight strike opportunities to start the day.  The entire lineup found a grove in the first three games as SHU eclipsed the 200 plateau each time en route to building a 3-0 lead.  However, no one expected the Knights to go quietly as the top ranked team in the nation.  Fairleigh Dickinson avoided the sweep with a 244 and continued to roll in the next two games to force a decisive game seven.

"In order to be victorious over FDU you need the entire team playing well," said Kregling.  "Two or three players bowling great will not get you there. You need four or five making quality shots."

 Sacred Heart (75-34) never lost focus and opened the contest with five straight pressure packed strikes.  The Pioneers were able to hold off FDU with room to spare at the end of ten frames to bring the 2012 NEC title back to Fairfield, CT with a 235-189 victory.

There are no automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, which the Pioneers have narrowly missed each of the last two seasons.  That means that Kregling's squad will have to anxiously wait to hear their names called on Wednesday at 4:00 pm during the selection show.  The NCAA Tournament consists of eight teams chosen at-large.  SHU was ranked eighth in the March edition of the NTCA Coaches' Poll.

"I am proud of the girls this weekend," commented Kregling.  "They were focused and intense while keeping an even composure throughout the tournament. They did what we knew we had to, to have a chance to be selected for the NCAA Tournament.

For now, Sacred Heart can celebrate another Northeast Conference crown.

"Winning the NEC Championship has been our goal from the start of our season," said Kregling. "They worked extremely hard, especially in the last month. It is nice to have that work and dedication pay off."

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