Reading, Pa. - In the first-ever edition of the East Coast Conference bowling championship, Adelphi University defied the odds and defeated the top two seeds -- including a pair of victories over top-seeded Kutztown University on Saturday -- to claim the inaugural conference crown on Saturday, March 26.
The ECC championship is the second-ever conference title for the Adelphi bowling program, as the Panthers claimed the Northeast Conference title in 2013.
"In our first team meeting of preseason, we set out with two goals in mind," Head Coach Dennis Kearney stated. "One was to improve ourselves on the lanes as one cohesive team, and the other was, no matter what happened from day one until today, to prepare to win an ECC Championship."
On the first day of play on Friday, Adelphi began its tournament by knocking off Daemen College by a 1,032-655 pin margin, as the Panthers were anchored by three scores over 200, including a 244 by Jackie Castelli. In round two, the Panthers dropped their next match to Franklin Pierce (900-874) to fall to 1-1 on the day, but bounced back to knock off Molloy by over 300 pins, 1,011-701, and then defeated Felician 934-882. In match three against Molloy, Castelli totaled a 216 score and Erica Novak posted a 213, while Sorrentino (206) and Laura Zaugg (202) paced Adelphi in the win over Felician. In the final match of the round robin, all five of Kutztown's bowlers posted scores of 190 or better, pushing Adelphi down into third place with a 1021-893 defeat.
At the close of round robin, Castelli had the third-highest pinfall for the tournament with a 983, while Sorrentino tied for fourth (975) and Zaugg (940) and Rebecca Gotterbarn (932) rounded out the top 10. As a team, Adelphi totaled the second-highest pinfall of 4,744 behind only Kutztown (4,944).
From there, the Panthers entered into the double elimination bracket, looking to keep their hopes of advancing to Saturday's final four alive and joining Kutztown and Franklin Pierce. In the first match, the Panthers put in another strong performance against the Daemen Wildcats, knocking them off by a 4-0 margin, before securing their spot in the final four with a 4-1 victory over Felician. With losses to both Daemen and Felician, Molloy was eliminated at the close of the first day of play.
The Panthers received a bye through the third round of double elimination which kicked off Saturday's play, and Felician posted a 4-1 victory over Daemen to round out the final four and eliminate the Wildcats. In the first round of the final four as double elimination continued, the Panthers exacted a measure of revenge on Franklin Pierce, winning 4-1, and Kutztown, upsetting the top seeds with a 4-2 victory in the winners bracket and move into the title match.
"The team battled back from losing two matches yesterday to go on an unimaginable run and prove to everyone that they deserved to be champions as long as they believed in their teammates around them," said Kearney. "After every match, we came together as a team and discussed what it means to believe in ourselves as a team and in one another, and it showed."
Kutztown turned in a 4-0 win over Felician in the ECC semifinals, and needed to defeat the Panthers twice to come away with the championship victory after dropping the earlier match. However, the Panthers stayed strong until the finish and posted a 4-1 win to defeat the Golden Bears for the second time on the day and win the ECC title.
"This was a great team win that included every member of this team at every moment this season," concluded Kearney. "I couldn't be more proud of them as a coach."
At the close of the first day of the tournament, both Gotterbarn and Sorrentino were named to the inaugural ECC All-Conference First Team, while Zaugg earned a spot on the All-ECC Second Team. The trio also earned spots on the All-Tournament team, while Gotterbarn earned Most Outstanding Bowler honors for the tournament. Also landing on the All-Tournament team were Kutztown's Jenn Fitts, Taylor Strothmann and Lauren Stamm and Jessica Davies of Franklin Pierce.
Provided by the Adelphi Sports Information Department.