Ice hockey conference tournament sweeps, Grit Games debut, Maroon & Gold Challenge fundraising record highlight busy year
The year 2020 will go down as one of the strangest years in Norwich University’s 100-year-plus varsity athletic history. From the men’s and women’s hockey teams losing out on the chance to compete for national championships, the spring sports season being called off shortly after it started, to the entire first-semester schedule for fall and winter sports being wiped out, it was a far different year than anyone could have anticipated.
Despite those challenges, Norwich still achieved remarkable athletic success during 2020. There were conference championships, major national award honors and new competitions created to allow our student-athletes to compete. Norwich’s teams also broke fundraising records, bringing in money to directly improve the student-athlete experience.
Here’s a chronological list of some of 2020’s top athletic achievements:
March 7: Men’s and women’s hockey sweep New England Hockey Conference titles at Kreitzberg Arena
For the second consecutive year, the Norwich University men’s and women’s hockey teams swept the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Tournament titles at Kreitzberg Arena.
The women rallied from a 2-1 deficit midway through the second period to score eight straight goals and defeat Suffolk University 9-2 for their fourth straight NEHC Tournament title and 10th overall. Amanda Conway ’20 was named the NEHC Tournament MVP for the second time in her career; Julia Masotta ’23, Ann-Frederique Guay ’23, Alexa Berg ’22 and Samantha Benoit ’21 were named to the All-Tournament team for the Cadets.
The men followed later that night with 3-0 shutout of Hobart College to win their record 14th NEHC Tournament title. Jordan Hall ’20 scored twice, while Tom Aubrun ’20 stopped all 29 shots he faced to record his ninth consecutive shutout and set an NCAA record with 13 shutouts in a single season.
Gabriel Chicoine ’21, Brett Ouderkirk ’22, and Hall were named to the NEHC All-Tournament team; Aubrun was named the NEHC Tournament MVP for the second year in a row.
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March 12-13: Baseball/softball teams complete spring break trips, post best season starts since early 2000s
Both the Norwich University baseball and softball teams completed their spring break trips right before the remainder of the spring season was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The baseball team went 4-4 in Florida and sat at 6-6 through 12 games, the program’s best start since 2004.
The softball team went 6-2 in its spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The Cadets capped their final game March 13 with a 9-1 walk-off win over Iowa Wesleyan. The start was the program’s best since 2003.
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March 25: Amanda Conway becomes second Laura Hurd Award winner in program history
Senior forward Amanda Conway ’20 of the Norwich University women’s ice hockey team was awarded the 2020 Laura Hurd Award, given annually to the nation’s best Division III women’s ice hockey player.
Conway was the second Norwich women's ice hockey player to win the Hurd Award in its 21-year history. Julie Fortier ’12 was the only other recipient in 2012 after she concluded her career as Norwich’s then-all-time leading scorer.
Conway broke nearly all of Fortier’s scoring records in her remarkable four-year career in the Maroon & Gold.
Conway was the first three-time New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Player of the Year in the league’s history. She ranks third all-time in NCAA Division III goals scored with 116 goals in 111 career games. Only Laura Hurd and Plattsburgh State’s Elizabeth Gibson, each with 120 goals, have scored more in NCAA Division III women's hockey history.
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March 27: Cam Ellsworth wins Ed Jeremiah National Division II-III Coach of the Year Award
Norwich University head men's hockey coach Cam Ellsworth was named the 2020 Ed Jeremiah Award winner, given annually to the nation's top Division III coach, as voted on by his peers in the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA).
Ellsworth’s first-time win marks a record seventh time a Norwich University men’s ice hockey coach has received the Edward Jeremiah Award, which is named in honor of the great Dartmouth College head coach and was first presented in 1970.
Current Norwich University Athletic Director Tony Mariano was the first Norwich winner in 1987; Mike McShane won it a record five times, in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2010 and 2017.
Norwich broke nine individual and team NCAA Division III records during the 2019-20 season under Ellsworth’s leadership. He also guided the Cadets to a 24-2-2 overall record and their second straight New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Tournament title.
Read the story and see the video here.
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March 27: Tom Aubrun named Sid Watson Award winner, National Division II-III Player of the Year
Tom Aubrun ’20 of the Norwich University men’s ice hockey team won the 2020 Sid Watson Award, given annually to the nation’s best Division III men’s ice hockey player.
Aubrun is the third Norwich University men's ice hockey player to win the Sid Watson Award in its 28-year history. He joins Keith Aucoin ’01 and Kurtis McLean ’05 as previous NU winners. Aucoin and McLean went on to play in the National Hockey League and enjoy long professional careers.
The only two men’s hockey programs with more Sid Watson award winners are St. Norbert and Middlebury, each with four.
Aubrun authored one of the most historic seasons in NCAA hockey history as he backstopped the Cadets to their 14th NEHC Tournament title and the No. 1 ranking in the USCHO.com national rankings before the season ended abruptly because of COVID-19 public health safety. He also earned USCHO National Player of the Year honors.
Aubrun set new NCAA Division III all-time records for consecutive shutouts (nine), shutout minutes (572:31) and most shutouts in a single season (13). His consecutive shutouts and consecutive shutout minute streak are NCAA ice hockey records at every level and gender.
Read the story and see the video here.
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May 4: Norwich Athletics launches “Reveille” podcast
Norwich University’s Athletic Communications department launched its official podcast May 4. The podcast, hosted by the voice of Norwich athletics, Tanner Acebo, is named “Reveille” (pronounced REV-il-lee) after the early morning bugle call signaling the first military formation of the day.
The inaugural episode featured men’s soccer head coach Adam Pfeifer, who talked about coaching philosophies and his journey to Northfield and shared interesting personal recollections.
“Reveille” has so far featured 18 episodes, earning more than 4,500 listens from across the country and around the world. Norwich University President Mark C. Anarumo is the most recent guest; with two appearances, he is the first recurring “Reveille’ guest.
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June 25 – Andrew Bracy signs professional contract with Major League Lacrosse’s New York Lizards
The New York Lizards of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) added Norwich alumnus Andrew Bracy ’15 to the team's active roster as a faceoff specialist.
Bracy will wear No. 31 with the LIzards, the same jersey number he wore during a phenomenal four-year career with the Maroon & Gold. He will be one of three players on the roster hailing from an NCAA Division III program, joining teammates Joey Panariello (State University of New York, Cortland) and Rock Stewart (Williams College).
Bracy, one of the greatest faceoff specialists in Norwich men’s lacrosse history, returns to the MLL after appearing in one game for the Ohio Machine in 2018.
In 2015, his senior season at Norwich, Bracy posted a .743 faceoff winning percentage becoming the NCAA Division III faceoff champion, a mark that ranks 14th all-time in the NCAA Division III record books.
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Oct. 3: Fall varsity sports teams compete in inaugural Grit Games on Homecoming Weekend
Norwich University’s eight fall varsity athletic teams competed in the inaugural Grit Games on Oct. 3 as part of “From the Hill to Your Home” virtual Homecoming 2020.
The Grit Games were created with help from Norwich University’s Semper Fidelis Society and took place on the U.S. Marine Corps Obstacle Course near the Vermont National Guard building on campus.
Women's soccer sophomore Eduarda Da Silva ’23 was the female individual champion; senior Jonah Faneuf ’21 and junior Jack Tellifson ’22 of the men's rugby team split the men’s individual title.
The men’s rugby team dominated the team competition, sweeping the top three times for the lowest possible team score of six. The women’s soccer team edged out the women’s rugby team by one point with 12 points to 13 to claim the women's team title.
See the story and video here.
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Nov. 6: Nikky Ansley ’23 breaks 50-meter breaststroke school record in virtual meet
Norwich sophomore Nikky Ansley shattered a 32-year-old school record in a virtual meet for the 50-meter breaststroke with a 25.76, besting Lynn Kucera’s time of 26.68 from 1988.
Ansley’s time was the sixth-fastest time in the country across Division I, II and III that week. She ranked 17th in all of NCAA Division III in the 50 breaststroke on the season at the time.
Ansley, who’s from Berlin, Germany, was the highest-ranking rookie and second overall highest individual scorer at the 2020 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship. She took first place in 50-yard freestyle 24.91 and 50-yard butterfly 26.75, which also set a GNAC record. Ansley completed her individual events by taking second in the 100-yard freestyle 55.23. Ansley earned GNAC Rookie of the Week honors three times this season and was twice named the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association Swimmer of the Week.
See the video here.
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Nov. 10: Third annual Maroon & Gold Challenge raises more than $64,000 for Norwich student-athletes
For the third consecutive year, Norwich University athletics supporters exceeded the target-donor goal for the Maroon & Gold Challenge.
During the five-day campaign, which concluded Nov. 6, 903 donors gave $64,849 that will go directly to each team’s fundraising account and support student-athletes’ quest for success. The total donor count nearly doubled the goal of 500; the money-raised total set a Maroon & Gold challenge record, topping the $50,881 raised a year ago.
This year’s campaign exceeded the 722 donors and $47,502 raised during the inaugural challenge in 2018. In total, the Maroon & Gold Challenge has raised over $160,000 in support of Norwich University student-athletes the last three years.
For the third consecutive year, the men’s lacrosse team generated the most donors and the most money — 207 donors gave $12,189. The money will go toward purchasing new biometric feedback equipment.
Sixteen of Norwich’s 20 varsity athletic programs raised more than $1,000. Twelve reached the individual sport goal of having 25 donors each; three more had 24 donors each.
Read the story here.
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