Alas, summer has arrived!

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By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

So it’s Tuesday, but there’s definitely a different feel today.  Of course yesterday was Memorial Day so starting the week on a Tuesday is always different, but there’s more to it than that.

Memorial Day always helps to signal the unofficial beginning of summer, but I always think of summer when the first week begins following graduation — now that is a different feel.  The students are gone.  Many of the professors and administration are taking much-needed breaks and the parking deck is wide open every morning.  Ahh yes, it’s summer and as much as I love being around the students and the W&L community as a whole, it’s always nice to come to work and know that the phone probably won’t ring, that my e-mail inbox will be a little less cluttered and to know that I have all the time in the world to accomplish my summer list of tasks.  But, before I get around to accomplishing them, I figured I would reminisce a little and give you my most memorable moments from the 2009-10 school year:

10. The Athletics Awards Ceremony – This is always the most memorable event of the year for me.  Plus it sort of unofficially marks the end of another year and signals the time for a bit of a respite.

9. Women’s Lax vs. Elizabethtown – This NCAA Tournament contest was set to begin at 4:30 pm and got pushed back to 8:00 pm.  Lightning then struck with 17:30 left in the game causing a delay that lasted well over an hour and forced the game to last until just after 11:00 pm.  In the end, the Generals dropped a 13-12 decision when a furious rally fell just short.  The worst part was sleeping on the couch in the office because of the late finish.  Now that was memorable. 🙂

8. Women’s Basketball vs. Virginia Wesleyan at home – The Generals dropped a 48-47 decision to Virginia Wesleyan at the Warner Center back on January 5 when the Marlins hit a shot at the buzzer (or at least the refs said so) to defeat W&L by a single point.  The Generals held VWC to just 18.5 percent shooting in the second half and that total would have been even lower if not for the shot that was counted by the zebras following an offensive rebound with less than one second remaining.  The shot could have definitely beat the buzzer, but it just as easily might have still been in her hand when the horn sounded.  As usual, the Generals didn’t get the call on their home court.  That’s okay cause it set up the No. 2 most memorable moment.

7. Alston James homers to beat Hampden-Sydney – The Generals knocked off Hampden-Sydney by a score of 3-2 in the ODAC baseball tournament on April 24.  The Tigers tied the game at 2-1 in the seventh inning, but James gave W&L the win with a solo shot in the top of the ninth inning, just his second home run of the season.  It could be higher on the list, but I wasn’t there to see it so it sits at No. 7.

6. W&L vs. Lynchburg field hockey game – The Generals led the 14th-ranked Hornets 2-1, but surrendered a pair of goals in the final 3:40 of the game to fall by a score of 3-2.  Jordan Warrington found the cage with the equalizer at 66:20 and Allie Weir banged home the game-winner with just two minutes remaining to stick the dagger in W&L’s hearts.  This one makes the list just because it was such a gut-wrenching loss.

5. Men’s tennis downs H-SC for the ODAC Title – This one was about as exciting as an ODAC tennis match will ever get (partially because ODAC tennis matches and exciting don’t really go together given the Generals’ dominance of the league over time).  The Tigers were the favorite heading into this one having defeated W&L in the 2009 title contest and the 2010 regular season meeting.  The Generals trailed 2-1 following doubles, but things started to look pretty good when W&L won matches at 2, 3 and 4 singles to go up 3-2.  Then, rookie Hayden White knocked off 4-time ODAC Player of the Year Will Moss at No. 1 singles for a 4-2 lead.  Word has it that it was the only legitimate ODAC loss of Moss’ career (he had one loss, but it was an injury default).  Not long after that, Will Hall won at No. 5 singles to close out the match.  Pretty intense day.

4. Women’s soccer wins ODAC title – The Generals hadn’t won the ODAC crown since 2003 and the ODAC was stacked again last fall with W&L, VWC and LC all ranked among the nation’s elite.  W&L felled the mighty Hornets, 1-0, in the semifinals and then advanced on PK’s over the Marlins, 3-2.  Ainsley Daigle scored the winning PK as All-America keeper Emily Leary held the Marlins at bay during the extra session.  Leary posted eight saves on the day in claiming ODAC Player of the Year honors.

3. Men’s basketball wins at Randolph-Macon – There are streaks and then … there was the mother of all streaks.  The Generals had not won at Randolph-Macon in men’s basketball since the 1958-59 season.  To put it into perspective, the Generals schedule that season also featured the likes of Virginia, Virginia Tech, George Washington, Richmond, Davidson and William & Mary.  On January 27, that streak came to an end with a 65-57 win over the ninth-ranked Yellow Jackets.  What made it even better was that the Yellow Jackets went on to advance to the Division III Final Four last season.  A great way to end a streak and one of the most satisfying game stories I have ever written following a game.  I only wish I had been there to see it after all the absolutely miserable defeats I had watched in that gym (including an 81-44 loss I witnessed in 1999 when the Generals were down 38-9 at halftime).

2. Women’s basketball wins the ODAC title – The entire run through the ODAC Tournament could count I suppose.  The semifinal win over EMU was pretty sweet.   Combine that with the fact that the Generals erased a nine-point halftime deficit by shooting 66.7 percent in the second half against the Marlins, and you have pure memories.  W&L ended up defeating VWC 64-56 and I then truly believed it was possible for W&L to win a conference title in basketball. After the game I stood on the court and watched the Generals cut down the nets and realized that I had never witnessed a team cut down the nets before.  That was pretty cool and will no doubt fuel the program to do it again.

1. I probably shouldn’t dig up old skeletons, but if I’m honest, it is without a doubt the most memorable moment of the 2009-10 season for me.  It is the Generals’ 35-34 overtime loss to Bridgewater in football.  I don’t really think I can elaborate except to say that the Generals stole defeat from the jaws of victory that day.  You can read about it here: http://generalssports.com/sports/fball/2009-10/releases/bwater10.31.

So there you have it.  The 10 most memorable moments from the 2009-10 school year.  I’ll be posting some blogs about once a week throughout the summer, but if you don’t make it back to read “From the Sidelines” until the fall, I hope you have a relaxing and enjoyable summer everyone. 🙂

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