WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- As it has every season,Eastern Connecticut State University challenged seriously to annex the Little East Conference Commissioner's Cup, finishing second in the race in the 2007/08 standings.
The Commissioner's Cup is awarded to the institution deemed the most successful over the course of the season in the conference, which is comprised of eight state-supported institutions in New England. Institutions are awarded points based on their place in final conference standings in each sport, and receive bonus points for winning a conference tournament.
Eastern was the winningest athletic program in the conference in the spring season, and its second-semester rush landed it in the No. 2 spot in the final tabulations. Eastern averaged 6.1565 points in the 17 championships in which it competed, behind champion Keene State College (6.8522). The University of Southern Maine (5.8596) was the only other program to average better than 5.0 points.
In the eight seasons in which the Commissioner's Cup has been contested, Eastern has finished among the top three institutions all but one time. This year, only one institution won more than Eastern's four conference playoff championships. In 2005/06, Eastern led all conference institutions with six conference playoff championships, and the Warriors shared the top spot in 2006/07 with five titles.
This past year, six programs earned NCAA Division III tournament bids, and six combined to win a total of eight Little East Conference regular-season and/or post-season championships. Eastern won three titles in the fall, one in the winter, and four in the spring.
The men's soccer, women's volleyball, women's basketball, and women's lacrosse programs all earned automatic entrance into the NCAA tournament by winning conference tournament championships. Additionally, the fastpitch softball and baseball programs received at-large invitations to the NCAA tournament. In addition to capturing conference post-season championships, men's soccer and women's lacrosse won their respective regular-season conference titles. Men's lacrosse also claimed its regular-season championship, and softball shared the regular-season title.
As the No. 5 seed, women's volleyball won its third straight LEC playoff title. The post-season title was the third (first in 12 seasons) for women's basketball and third (in four years) for women's lacrosse. Men's soccer won its first post-season match and title in the nine-year history of the championship and softball its first regular-season championship in the 13-year history of that championship.
In 20 head-to-head matchups, Eastern and Commissioner's Cup champion Keene battled on even terms during the season. Each program won nine times, and there were two ties (in men's soccer, Eastern was named conference tournament champion on the basis of a penalty-kick shootout win over Keene in the championship match, which is officially recorded as a tie).
Not including the men's soccer tie, the other four conference playoffs games between Eastern and Keene resulted in a one-goal, one run, or one-game victory for one program, with Eastern winning twice. The Warriors won 3-games-to-2 over the Owls in the semifinals of the women's volleyball tournament, and 1-0 in overtime in the semifinals of the women's soccer playoffs.
In the regular season, Eastern defeated Keene 2-0 in women's soccer, 75-60 and 69-58 in women's basketball, 11-10 in three overtimes in men's lacrosse and 13-12 in women's lacrosse. Also, the baseball team downed Keene 7-4 in the first game of a regular-season doubleheader, and the softball team claimed a 2-1, nine-inning victory in the nightcap of its doubleheader against Keene. Both of Keene's baseball and softball wins over Eastern in the regular season were decided by one run.