It was an exciting year for Saint Joseph's athletics in 2017. From conference championships and NCAA appearances to awards and wins piling up all year long, there were dozens of nominees to choose from, but in the end, here are the top 10 stories from the past year in Saint Joseph's athletics.
10. Muffet McGraw Enshrined into Basketball Hall of Fame, Receives Distinguished Alumni Award – It was a memorable year for former Saint Joseph's student-athlete Muffet McGraw as the 1977 graduate was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September and was honored with Saint Joseph's University's Alumni Professional Achievement Award in November.
One of the founding members of Saint Joseph's women's basketball program, McGraw (nee O'Brien) guided the Hawks' offense from 1973-77 as they began play as a Division I team. Following her stellar playing career, McGraw served as head coach at Archbishop Carroll High School for two years before taking an assistant coaching spot on Hawk Hill from 1980-82 under Jim Foster. She was named head coach at Lehigh in 1982 and posted an 88-41 record over five seasons before taking over the reigns at Notre Dame.
The winningest single-sport coach Fighting Irish history, McGraw is one of six men's or women's basketball coaches in NCAA Division I history with 800 wins, seven Final Fours, and five NCAA title game appearances. In her 30 seasons at Notre Dame, McGraw has compiled a 765-227 record, qualified for the past 22 NCAA tournaments, and brought the NCAA Championship title to South Bend, Indiana, in 2001.
9. Individual Honors Pour In – It wasn't just Hawk teams that found success in 2017, as a number of Saint Joseph's student-athletes earned individual awards or All-America honors:
- Chris Blewitt (Men's Lacrosse) – Northeast Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year
- Nathaniela Bourdeau (Women's Track and Field) – Atlantic 10 Most Outstanding Outdoor Track Performer
- Kyle Chalmers (Men's Tennis) – Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Men's Tennis Performer of the Year
- Adashia Franklyn (Women's Basketball) – Big 5 Most Improved Player
- Victoria Kammerinke (Field Hockey) – NFCHA Third Team All-America, ECAC Defensive Player of the Year, Atlantic 10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year
- Quinn Maguire (Field Hockey) – Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year
- Alyssa Monaghan (Women's Basketball) – HERO Sports WBB Best Atlantic 10 Underclassman Guard
- Anna Willocks (Field Hockey) – NFCHA Second Team All-America, Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year, Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Field Hockey Performer of the Year
- Chelsea Woods (Women's Basketball) – Atlantic 10 Sixth Woman of the Year
8. Chalmers Ties Men's Tennis Career Singles Victories Mark – Senior Kyle Chalmers wrapped up a stellar career in 2017, winning 34 matches across both singles and doubles play. On April 23, Chalmers topped Ivan Knezevic of Saint Peter's, 6-3, 7-5, for his 73rd career singles victory, tying him with Antonio Aniello '06 for the program's all-time record for singles wins.
Chalmers finished his career with a pair of Philadelphia Inquirer Academic All-Area Performer of the Year honors, two All-Atlantic 10 Second Team performances, and CoSIDA Academic All-District At-Large First Team accolades. He was inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society as well.
7. Baseball's Stafford, Men's Lacrosse's Joaquim Go Pro – Catcher Deon Stafford, Jr., was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on June 13. The Pittsburgh Pirates chose Stafford with the 148th overall selection, making him Saint Joseph's highest draft selection since John DelMonte was picked in the fourth round in 1979.
Stafford was a three-time All-Atlantic 10 selection and was the league's Player of the Year in 2016, just the second Hawk to earn that honor in program history. He is the 26th Hawk to be drafted by a Major League club and the sixth to be selected during Fritz Hamburg's tenure.
Former Saint Joseph's short stick defensive midfielder Anthony Joaquim ‘17 was selected in the first round, eighth overall, by the New England Black Wolves of the National Lacrosse League, the top indoor lacrosse league in the world, in September. Joaquim is the third Hawk to be drafted by the NLL, joining Hawk greats Marc Shaffer and Randy McNeil.
6. Women's Lacrosse Sets Single-Season Program Record for Wins, Returns to A-10 Postseason – The Saint Joseph's women's lacrosse program returned to the postseason for the second consecutive season this year, marking the first time in program history that the Hawks had made back-to-back postseason appearances. After a loss to Massachusetts in the team's first Atlantic 10 game of the season, the Hawks won six of their next seven games, finishing at 7-2 in league play and tied for second in the Atlantic 10 for the second year in a row. With their 15-12 win over George Washington in the regular-season finale, the Hawks reached 11 wins, a new program record for victories in a single season. SJU faced Richmond in the A-10 Championship semifinal, battling to a hard-fought, 15-11 loss.
5. Track Standouts, Men's Rowing Hit the Big Stage – The Saint Joseph's men's track and field program sent a pair of Hawks to the NCAA East Regional Preliminary Rounds in Lexington, Kentucky, in May. Torey Doaty advanced out of the first round and reached the quarterfinals of the 400m hurdles, while Dan Savage raced the quarterfinals of the 3000m steeplechase.
Meanwhile, the men's rowing team received an at-large bid to the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship, the first time under the IRA's current format that Saint Joseph's was selected to participate. The event was held in Sacramento, California, where the Hawks placed 19th in the final team standings.
4. Women's Basketball, Softball, and Women's Soccer Reach Semifinals of Atlantic 10 Championships – The Saint Joseph's women's basketball team, softball team and women's soccer team all advanced to the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Championship in their respective sports in 2017.
• Picked to finish eighth in the A-10, the women's basketball team proved voters wrong and finished third in the conference and advanced to the semifinals, helping the Hawks eventually secure a WNIT berth.
• Battling back for a walk-off victory to open the A-10 Championship, the SJU softball team battled its way to the semifinals behind All-Tournament selection Ashley Ventura.
• Making its fourth consecutive A-10 Championship appearance, the women's soccer team fought through early-season injuries and captured the seventh seed. Traveling to second-seeded Saint Louis for a quarterfinal match, the Hawks pulled the upset as they handed the Billikens their only home loss of the season, 1-0, behind a Michaela Finneyfrock goal and stellar play in goal from Grace Bendon.
3. Men's Cross Country Places Second at Atlantic 10 Championship, Third at IC4A Championship – Led by the All-Conference and All-East efforts of graduate student Dan Savage and sophomore Zach Michon, the Hawks' men's cross country team turned in a pair of outstanding finishes at championship meets this fall. The Hawks put four in the top 20 to earn a second-place team finish in a field of 14 at the Atlantic 10 Championship, now finishing as one of the top-three teams in the Atlantic 10 seven times in the last nine years.
Three weekends later, all five of SJU's scorers placed in the top 40 to lead SJU to a third-place team finish in a field of 25 at the IC4A Championship. The men's cross country program has now earned a top-three IC4A finish four times in the last five years.
2. Men's and Women's Rowing Medal at Dad Vail Regatta – The Hawks won five medals at the 2017 Dad Vail Regatta, with the men's team earning three and the women's side two in collegiate rowing's largest regatta.
The men finished third in the team standings, taking home gold in both the Second and Third Varsity 8 races and silver in the Varsity 8, while the women claimed gold in the Freshman 8 and bronze in the Varsity 8 en route to a second-place team finish. Combined, the Hawks ranked third in the overall team standings.
1. Field Hockey Wins Atlantic 10 Regular Season and Tournament Championships, Reaches NCAA Tournament First Round – Led by the league's three-time Offensive Player of the Year, Anna Willocks, Co-Defensive Player of the Year Victoria Kammerinke, Rookie of the Year Quinn Maguire, and two-time Coach of the Year Lynn Farquhar, the Saint Joseph's field hockey team clinched its second consecutive outright Atlantic 10 regular season title with a win over Davidson on October 28. A week later, the top-seeded Hawks fell behind early in the semifinals but stormed back with seven unanswered goals to rout fourth-seeded Richmond, 7-2, avenging their only Atlantic 10 defeat of the season and setting up a rematch of last season's championship game with second-seeded tournament host Massachusetts.
As the clock ticked down below six minutes remaining in the second overtime period, Willocks fired a shot toward the cage. Emily Peters was there to tip it home and give the Hawks their first Atlantic 10 tournament title in 22 years and send Saint Joseph's to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. With her role in the game-winner, Willocks also became the Hawks' all-time leader in assists.
In the NCAA Tournament First Round, the Hawks headed to Charlottesville, Virginia, for a meeting with fourth-ranked North Carolina. The Hawks ultimately fell to the Tar Heels, who would go on to reach the national semifinals.
Saint Joseph's concluded its season for the ages with a school record 18 wins and a #15 ranking in the final National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll, the highest national ranking in program history. Willocks and Kammerinke would go on to be named to the NFHCA Second and Third Team All-America squads, respectively.