That Championship Season
What an unbelievable year for Saint Mary’s athletics! With three conference championships to their credit this season, the Gaels achieved success at a rate never before seen on the beautiful Moraga campus. In the first 55 seasons of the West Coast Conference, Saint Mary’s won a total of eight league titles. In the last three years, Gaels sports teams have won five WCC championships, including three this year.
“It has been a great year for Saint Mary’s athletics,” said Director of Athletics Mark Orr. “It is extremely satisfying to see the hard work, dedication and commitment of our student-athletes, coaches and staff rewarded with success. The trophy cases in McKeon Pavilion are filling up quickly!”
Last fall, the SMC men’s soccer team went on an historic run to the program’s first-ever West Coast Conference title and the NCAA Elite Eight, winning more NCAA Tournament games than any team in school history. Four months later, the men’s basketball team earned both the WCC regular-season and tournament championships for the first time in program history and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time since 2005. Junior Matthew Dellavedova was named WCC Player of the Year and became the first male athlete at Saint Mary’s to earn first-team Capital One® Academic All-America honors.
During the recent spring season, Scott Hardy ’98 guided the Gaels’ golf team to the program’s first-ever WCC title, and junior Ben Geyer became just the fourth Saint Mary’s player to take home medalist honors in the tournament’s 41-year history. A native of Arbuckle, Calif., Geyer made a long birdie putt from just off the 18th green on the final hole of the tournament to clinch the title in one of the more dramatic moments in the school’s athletic history.
The Gael rugby team also had a sterling year. After beating No.1 ranked Cal 20 –18 in Moraga in April, the team went on to finish the regular season undefeated in the Pacific Coast Conference and ranked No. 2 in the country. In May, they defeated Utah 25 –15 in the D1-A quarterfinals before falling to Arkansas State in the semifinals, which were held at Saint Mary’s.
SMC’s women’s sports teams also had a strong year. Although none won their conference championships, the softball team earned a spot in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference championships, the women’s basketball team appeared in the WNIT, and the women’s tennis team earned a spot in the NCAA, becoming only the second team in Saint Mary’s history to advance to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.