Griffins Hunting for Conference’s Highest Honor
For several years now, the feeling in CHC’s Athletics Department is that the College is “close.” Close to breaking through in Division II — Close to winning their first-ever Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championship and establishing itself as a regional power.
Close, but as the proverbial saying goes, “no cigar.”
To this point, close has only amounted to a handful of championship appearances and a lot of heartbreak as the teams have reached the pinnacle only to suffer defeat in the end. But with each passing season, the programs get stronger, the rosters more talented and the coaching staffs continue to be built with strong and experienced leaders. There is a feeling of optimism that the College will win that first title and one has to look no further than this past fall season to believe that possibility could be a reality very soon.
In the fall of 2015, the Griffins put in, collectively, one of their best all-around seasons since becoming members of the CACC in 2007.
The men’s cross country team raced to a third-place finish at the Cougar Chase Invitational and recorded their first-ever first-place finish at the Bryn Athyn Invitational, before recording another program best, a fifth-place finish at the CACC Championship meet. Leading the way was CACC Runner of the Year, Giancarlo Martines ’18, who set a school record and personal best time with his first-place finish at the meet. Eric Barton ’17, who was also named an all-conference runner, placed ninth.
With a new coach, the women’s tennis team picked up right where they left off the season before, once again reaching the semifinals of the CACC Championship tournament. Unlike the prior year however, the Griffins won their semifinal match and returned to the finals to take on Concordia College for the third time in four years. The Griffins fell just short against their rivals but continued to show how formidable an opponent the women’s tennis team has become.
If ever there was a Cinderella story, it was this year’s men’s soccer team. With a simple pre-season goal of earning a home playoff game, the team did much more than that. Led by former player and new head coach, Julian Fernandez ’11, the Griffins recorded their first playoff victory and then their second, earning a place in the CACC Championship finals. The Griffins’ magical run, which consisted of two thrilling overtime victories, ended there, however as they lost to Bloomfield College — another surprise team — in the final game of the season.
And then there is sprint football. CHC’s new sprint football team had a successful first season, garnering accolades for individual players and winning the first annual CACC Bowl against conference rival Post University.
While none of these teams did manage the ultimate goal of achieving championship gold, their season was not one to be forgotten. In fact, due to the strong finishes of both men’s soccer and cross country, the Griffins earned their first top-three ranking on the Alfred R. Restaino Cup standings leaderboard to crown the top men’s team in CACC athletics.
Given annually to both the men’s and women’s programs of the CACC that finish highest in overall points standings, the Restaino Cup is a coveted trophy. Points are awarded based on finishes and take into account all CACC sponsored programs — cross country, soccer, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis and track & field for the men and cross country, soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, track & field and softball for the women.
Currently sitting in third, the Griffins are less than a full point behind Bloomfield and less than three points behind Wilmington University.
With men’s tennis and baseball still to be played — two programs in which the Griffins have consistently performed well, including reaching the championship last year — and the men’s basketball team fighting for a playoff spot, Chestnut Hill has a good shot of taking home the trophy.
“Our goal since joining the CACC in 2007 as a new Division II member has always been to be competitive within the conference across all of our athletic teams,” says Lynn Tubman, director of athletics and recreation. “This fall’s Restaino Cup standings are testament to us having made great strides toward reaching that goal.”
“I believe the momentum from the success of men’s soccer, men’s cross country and women’s tennis last fall will propel our winter and spring teams to even higher levels of success,” Tubman adds. “I believe the accomplishments of these teams are the first step to us winning our first CACC championship.”
The Restaino Cup standings will next be updated at the conclusion of the men’s and women’s basketball seasons.
For more on the CHC sports teams, visit Griffinathletics.
— Marilee Gallagher ’14