The 2013/14 academic year proved to be an unprecedented banner time for sports at the College. Consider, in chronological order, just these three highlights:
- On December 8, 2013, the Vassar women’s rugby team – the first rugby team to reach the Final Four in the College’s history – clinched a third-place finish at the American Collegiate Rugby Association tournament.
- On the night of February 26, 2014, the Vassar women’s basketball team advanced to the league championship with a second-half come-from-behind victory – and then the Vassar men’s basketball team came from behind in the second half of their game to win and advance to their league championship finals, as well.
- On May 24, 2014, Aubree Piepmeier ’14 and Heather Ingraham ’15 became the first Vassar track stars ever to earn All-American status, at the NCAA Division III Track Championships. Ingraham was fourth in the 400-meter run, and Piepmeier finished fifth in the 5,000-meter run.
There was, inevitably, much more to each story. Women’s rugby finished with a season record of 13-4, after rebounding from a loss in the semifinals to defeat Kutztown State, 24-15. “We may be a small, liberal arts school, but now a lot of people know we have some wonderfully competitive athletes,” said the team’s coach, Tony Brown.
As for the women’s basketball team, after disposing of top-seeded St. Lawrence 64-60 to win their third Liberty League title in the last four years under head coach Candice Brown, the Brewers garnered their first-ever NCAA tournament win – a thrilling 76-75 victory over Williams – on March 7. The Brewers went on to lose a 72-71 heartbreaker to host Scranton the following day, but Vassar finished the season with a 23-6 record, the most wins in team history.
Since the 2009-10 season, the Vassar men’s basketball team had compiled an overall record of 21-79, and had won just nine of their 60 Liberty League games, finishing eighth every year. But under rookie head coach B.J. Dunne – at 26, the youngest head basketball coach in NCAA Division III – the men’s team tied for second in the Liberty League standings with a 10-6 record (19-8 overall – the most victories in its history) and reached the finals of the league playoffs for the first time ever. Vassar took top-seeded Hobart College into double overtime on March 1 before falling in the Liberty League championship game, 75-74.
Piepmeier’s All-America time of 16:41.93 – less than 24 hours before she received her Vassar diploma – was her personal best, and a Vassar record. Ingraham also posted her fastest time ever, 55.31. Piepmeier also earned Academic All-America honors, and was presented with the 2014 Frances D. Fergusson Coaches Award by head track coach James McCowan, who called her “the best of what Vassar has to offer.”