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July 2011 Archives

Hall of Fame: All-America Sligo Named

 Defenseman will be first player inducted from program on October 30

shannon sligo old head72dpi.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. -   Two-time men's lacrosse All-America defenseman Shannon Sligo has been selected as the first player in program history to the Eastern Connecticut State University E-Club Hall of Fame. The announcement was made by selection committee co-chairmen Dr. David G. Yeo and Scott Smith.

A native of South Hadley, MA, Sligo was the most instrumental player in the immediate rise of the program to national prominence. A 6-foot, 180 pound defenseman, Sligo joined the program in its second season on the intercollegiate level in 1997. He keyed the Warriors to their first two post-season tournament appearances by earning USILA Division III All-America honorable mention accolades as both a junior in 1999 and as a senior in 2000.

The 18th E-Club Hall of Fame Reception and Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, October 30 at noon at the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center. Tickets are priced at $45 and must be reserved in advance by contacting Dr. Yeo at 860-465-5166 or at or Scott Smith at 860-465-4326 or at

sligoaction72dpi_2470.jpgSligo is the only four-time All-New England pick and first All-America in the program's 16-year history and was the first player in program history to compete in the prestigious USILA national North-South Game in 2000.  He was the team's MVP each season and a three-time team captain and ground ball award-winner.

Sligo is one of six members of the Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Previously announced for induction was Joe Funaro (1992-95), the first four-time All-New England recipient in the history of the Eastern baseball program who led the Warriors to two regional championships in his four-year career.

As a four-time Pilgrim League all-star, Sligo sparked the Warriors to a 29-1 league record (22-0 regular season, 7-1 playoffs), four regular-season titles and three playoff championships. In all, Eastern was 55-10 (84.6 percent) in Sligo's career. In his junior season in 1999, Eastern was chosen to its first ECAC New England Division III tournament, and the following year, won its first ECAC tournament match with a 21-6 first-round rout of Tufts University (which would in later years go on to win the NCAA Division III national championship) before falling in overtime in the tournament semifinals three days later.

Sligo appeared in all possible 65 matches in his career, starting every one after his freshman season.  He graduated as the program's all-time leader in appearances, starts (61) and ground ball balls (282). Sligo still holds two of the top ten season marks for ground balls and among defensemen, remains the program's career leader in ground balls.

With Sligo, Eastern's defense won the national statistical championship in least goals allowed in both 1997 (5.94) and 2000 (4.78) and was never rated lower than a tie for 12th in that department. The team's final winning percentage was never ranked lower than a tie for eighth in a season. In Sligo's senior season - only the fifth season on the intercollegiate level -- Eastern earned its highest ranking ever (to that point) with a regional ranking of No. 3 and national ranking of No. 15.

Late in Sligo's sophomore season, the Warriors initiated a home winning streak at Nevers Field that culminated at 37 in May of 2003.  Sligo's teams never lost as many as two straight matches, and formed winning streaks of  ten, nine and seven (twice) during his career.

Sligo becomes the second individual  associated with the program to gain E-Club Hall of Fame induction, following program founder and first head coach Rick McCarthy (2008), who served as Sligo's head coach throughout Sligo's career.

After spending four seasons as assistant men's lacrosse coach at Amherst College, Sligo was selected as fulltime head coach at American International College in the fall of 2006. In his third season in the spring of 2010 (the 2007 season had been cancelled in order to initiate a rebuilding process), Sligo was named New England Division II and Northeast-10 Coach-of-the-Year.

Sligo holds a  B.S. Degree in Sociology and resides in Belchertown, MA with wife Sarah, son Ryan, 4, and daughter Hazel, 2.

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E-Club Hall of Fame: Joe Funaro Tabbed

Baseball program's first four-time All-NE selection headlines Class of '11


WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The first player in Eastern Connecticut State University baseball history to be named to the All-New England team as many as four times, Joe Funaro has been selected for induction into the E-Club Hall of Fame. The announcement was made by selection committee co-chairmen Dr. David G. Yeo and Scott Smith.

A three-time team MVP and batting leader from Hamden, the 5-foot-9 inch, 175-pound right-handed hitting shortstop twice led the Warriors to New England championships and berths in NCAA Division III national tournaments.

The 18th E-Club Hall of Fame Reception and Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, October 30 at noon at the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center. Tickets are priced at $45 and must be reserved in advance by contacting Dr. Yeo at 860-465-5166 or at or Scott Smith at 860-465-4326 or at

Between 1992 and 1995, Funaro earned countless honors as the team's four-year starter at shortstop in becoming the first player from that four-year span to earn Hall of Fame honors. In addition to becoming the first player and one of only two players in program history to be named All-New England as many as four times (three times as a first-team choice), Funaro was selected first-team All-America - the first shortstop in program history thus honored -- and ECAC Player-of-the-Year when he hit safely in the final 31 games of his career as a senior in 1995. That year, he was named MVP of the New England Regional Tournament (9-for-17, 8 RBI) and was the starting shortstop in the New England College All-Star Game at Fenway Park, where he singled twice in his third season of participation.


At left: Joe Funaro (far left) participated in the New England All-Star Game at Fenway Park three times during his four-year Eastern career.

The 1995 season was the only truly injury-free one in the 132-game career (131 starts) of Funaro, who started all 40 games as a senior and led all Eastern players in 13 individual categories. He batted over .400 (.433) for the second straight year in 1995 with 24 stolen bases, 68 hits and what was then a season record 20 doubles. He struck out only six times all season (once every 26.2 at-bats) - the fifth-best ratio in a season in program history. In the final official at-bat of his career (he walked in his final plate appearance), Funaro homered in an elimination game of the NCAA Division III national tournament.

During his record 31-game hitting streak in 1995 - the longest in Division III that year and equaling the fourth-longest in NCAA Division III history - Funaro batted .468 with 18 doubles and 36 RBI. He had two or more hits in 20 of those games, extended the streak in his first plate appearance nine times, and only once prolonged the streak in his final plate appearance.

With the exception of the 1994 season when he was limited to 23 games due to an assortment of injuries, Funaro led the team in batting average and runs scored every season. He topped all Eastern players in on-base percentage all four years and in stolen base, slugging, and assists twice.

Sixteen seasons following graduation, Funaro still shares the program record with his 31-game hitting streak and is fifth in career batting (.396), sixth in doubles (50) and eighth in assists (344).Funaro's career total of 197 hits ranks him in a tie for 20th all-time with E-Club Hall of Fame shortstop Stan Harris. At the time of graduation, he held the career and season record for doubles and career mark for assists and was third in career batting average. He remains the only player in program history to be named the outright team MVP as many as three times.

Funaro was drafted in the 21st round of the 1995 First Year Player Draft by the Florida Marlins. During his six-year minor league career, Funaro advanced up the organizational ladder each season, reaching the Triple A level in 2000.A league all-star at every stop, Funaro compiled a .314 average in parts of three Double A seasons. At Double A Portland, Maine in 1999, Funaro batted a career-high .366 with 19 doubles and 40 RBI.

Funaro holds a B.S. Degree in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice and has been employed at the Yale University Police Department for the past ten years. He resides in New London and has two children, Jace, 11, and Katie, 9.






Men's Soccer: Youth Clinic Concludes


msoc_camp_2011 72DPI3995.jpgaction72dpi_2333.jpgMore than 100 boys and girls participated in the Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer program's CWSA Summer Clinic, which concluded Friday. Under the direction of Eastern head coach Greg DeVito and assistant coach Adam Phaiah, the clinic involved boys and girls aged 5 to 14 and ran from Monday through Friday betwen 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and was staged on the Eastern campus.  Eastern's current and former players served as clinicians for the clinic, which focused on dribbling, passing, receiving, shooting and heading. All proceeds from the clinic support the Eastern men's soccer program, which finished with a 14-4-3 record last year and qualified for post-season play for the fourth straight season. (Tara Hurt photo)

Baseball: Kukucka, Schult Re-United

In pitching debut with New York Tuesday, Schult gets no decision

schultNEIBA72dpi_1990.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Former Eastern Connecticut State University baseball teammates James Kukucka (Vernon) and Jim Schult (Wappingers Falls, NY) have been re-united on the pitching staff of the New York Federals of the New York State League.

At left: Jim Schult

Both four-year members of the Eastern baseball program, Kukucka (2006-2009) and Schult (2008-2011) are both starting right-handed pitchers for the Federals, who compete in the independent eight-team CanAm League which has franchises in the Northeast and Canada. The modern-day NYSL was founded in 2006 and is a lower level independent baseball league and serves as the official development league of the CanAm League. The Federals are a traveling team which is comprised of former NYSL players and plays all road games.

Schult, the NCAA Division III Player-of-the-Year this past spring as a pitcher and designated hitter, signed recently with the Federals after being overlooked in the First Year Player Draft last month and failing to sign a free-agent contract with a MLB organization.

In his debut Tuesday night against the Newark (NJ) Bears at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium, Schult departed after five innings with the score tied at 4-4 and did not figure in the decision of a game won by Newark, 11-4. Schult, who was 19-2 as a pitcher with a .371batting average at Eastern, allowed five hits against the Bears, walking five and strikeout out two.

kukucka 72dpi_8953.jpgAfter surrendering two runs in the first inning - walking former big-leaguer Tim Raines Jr. on a 3-2 pitch to open the game - Schult pitched three scoreless innings. He was touched for two unearned runs when Newark tied the game in the fifth, striking out two in the inning.

At left: James Kukucka

Kukucka was traded by Quebec to the Federals for future considerations last February 9 after helping Les Capitales to their second straight CanAm playoff title in 2010. Despite spending a month on the disabled list, Kukucka was 2-2 with a 6.37 ERA in 29 2/3 innings with Quebec last year.

Kukucka is currently 2-2 with a 5.06 ERA in 37 1/3 innings with the Federals. Kukucka won his second game of the season ten days ago in a 9-7 win over the New Jersey Jackals. Kukucka pitched into the sixth inning of that game, allowing four runs with five strikeouts. In his last start three days ago, he dropped a 6-4 decision against the Brockton (MA) Rox. Kukucka was staked to 2-0 and 3-2 leads in that game but left with the bases loaded and none out with the score tied in the sixth.

Teams in the CanAm League play a 94-game split regular season beginning May 26 and ending Sept. 5, with the first half of play ending Saturday. The league playoffs get underway Sept. 7. The Federals  have lost eight straight and are last in the league with an 8-35 record.

Schult and Kukucka were teammates at Eastern during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, both of which culminated in NCAA Division III tournament appearances.  Kukucka was 9-3 with two saves and a 3.63 ERA in three varsity seasons at Eastern.

The Federals play seven games in seven days in New England beginning Thursday. They play a three-game set against the Worcester Tornadoes before moving on to face Brockton for four games.

Women's Soccer: HS Clinic Aug. 15-18

andover youth WEB_1461.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn.  - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer program will stage its annual Girls' High School Pre-Season Clinic  August 15-18 on the turf field at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

The clinic runs Monday-through-Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon each day, and is open to girls aged 14-18. The clinic includes instruction in technical skills and small-side games, speed and agility training, plyometrics, interval training and goalkeeper training. Each session will include a guest speaker who will address nutrition, athletic training and college preparation.

The clinic is under the direction of 12th-year Eastern head coach Chris D'Ambrosio -- last year's New England and Little East Conference Coach-of-the-Year and the winningest coach in the program's 25-year history - and 11th-year head coach Ken Goodale.  Each coach has earned an  NSCAA an Advanced National Diploma.  Current and past players will also serve as instructors.

Last fall, Eastern was undefeated through two rounds of the NCAA tournament, finishing the regular season ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 8 nationally and with a final record of 16-1-5.

Cost of the four-day clinic is $100 per participant, and deadline for registering is August 1. More information and a registration form can be found at
or by contacting Chris D'Ambrosio at 860-465-0175 or at

Softball: Coaching Staff Repeats Honor

Named NFCA Coaching Staff-of-the-Year again by vote of coaches

pepinCSOY72dpi_4082.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University softball coaching staff - led by tenth-year head coach Diana Pepin - has been voted as the New England Region Coaching Staff-of-the-Year for the second straight year by the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) in a balloting of the region's head coaches.

At left: Head Coach Diana Pepin

Under the leadership of Pepin and assistants Peter Maneggia and Tammy Schondelmayer and student-assistant coaches Bill Mullins and Ashley Sullivan, the Warriors won their 14th regional championship in 2011en route to a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Division III national softball tournament at Salem, VA.

The regional championship was the second straight under Pepin for Eastern, which qualified for its fourth straight NCAA tournament after winning its second straight Little East Conference tournament title. The team won its first seven games of the year and its first 17 games up north en route to a 19-1 regular-season northern record  and final overall record of 35-7. The Warriors won at least 80 percent of their games in two straight seasons for the first time since 1989.

  Pepin has coached more games (398) than any other coach in the program's 35-year history, assuming that honor in the opening round of the NCAA Division III national tournament May 20.  A 1992 Eastern graduate and member of four NCAA regional and one NCAA national championship teams, Pepin is second all-time in program history with 242 coaching wins and third by averaging 24.2 wins per season. She has lost 155 and tied one for an overall 61.0 winning percentage.

Maneggia concluded his fourth season with the staff in 2011. He has contributed more than 20 years of coaching experience, with previous head softball coaching jobs at Division I College of Holy Cross and Division III St. Joseph's College of Hartford.. He also was an assistant at Division I Central Connecticut State University and at Division III Trinity College and served for one year as assistant at Eastern under former head softball coach Tom York.

Schondelmayer joined the staff this season. The 2009 E-Club Hall of Fame inductee enjoyed a four-year playing career at Eastern which included four straight regional championships, two berths in the NCAA Division III national championship round and the 1986 national title. Schondelmayer has started more games at shortstop than any other individual in program history.

A Lebanon native, Mullins is in his second season, having joined the coaching staff after transferring from the University of Connecticut, where he served in a similar capacity with its softball program. Sullivan is a Trumbull native and former four-year member of the program. The former all-region centerfielder led last year's team to a program-tying 39 wins and its first regional championship since 1992.

A Willimantic native and a player on the 1990 national championship team, Pepin was named sixth permanent head coach in program history in 2002. Seven of her last eight seasons have produced at least 20 wins. Over the last six years, the Warriors have won 67 of 84 LEC regular-season games (.798 percent), including successive 13-1 LEC campaigns and regular-season and tournament titles.  The Warriors have been the No. 1 seed in the LEC tournament three of the last four years.

In 2011, Eastern swept four games in the LEC tournament -- outscoring its opponents by a 26-7 count - and survived a fourth-round loss in the NCAA  Division III Providence, R.I. regional to clinch its second straight title with a 4-1 victory over host Rhode Island College. The Warriors won one game in the national tournament  before being eliminated by eventual national champion Linfield College.

Eastern was ranked second in New England this year from start to finish behind the U.S. Coast Guard Academy - which the Warriors defeated to claim the 2010 regional championship - and appeared in all 14 NFCA Division III Top 25 national polls. The Warriors opened at No. 2, were rated No.. 9 after winning the conference tournament title, and concluded at No. 5 at the end of post-season competition.

A team which rebuilt its nucleus with first-year catchers, middle infielders and centerfielders this season, Eastern featured one All-America, five All-New England Region and two all-conference selections. Junior righty pitcher Molly Rathbun (Hebron) repeated as a first-team All-America and was joined on the all-region team by junior outfielder Priscilla Alicea (Stratford), sophomore third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic), senior catcher Rachel Soychak (Mahopac, NY) and freshman shortstop Megan Godwin (Manchester) and on the all-conference team by Alicea. Rathbun (24-2-5, 1.26 ERA), also the team's leading hitter with a .426 average, ranked third nationally in strikeouts and saves and among the Top 10 in four additional pitching categories.

The coaching staff at national champion Linfield was named NFCA national and West Region Coaching Staff-of-the-Year after defeating Christopher Newport University twice in the championship round of the national tournament to complete a run through the losers' bracket. The Wildcats won 35 straight games during the season, were ranked No. 1 nationally all season long, and finished with a record of 51-3.

In addition to Eastern, the coaching staffs at Christopher Newport (Atlantic Region), DePauw University (Central), and Luther College (Midwest) repeated as their respective region's Coaching Staff-of-the-Year. All four of these programs repeated as national tournament qualifiers this year.







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