Harry Rafferty '17 (#22, photo by SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com) hit six of his 10 three-point tries on his way to a game-high and career-best 26 points in leading homestanding Wesleyan to a 76-54 win over Emmanuel Thurs., Nov. 20. The win upped the Cardinals' record against the Saints to 9-1 all-time. Wesleyan is back in action Sat., Nov. 22, hosting Little Three rival Williams in a non-conference tilt. The game will have a webcast and LiveStats. Twice during his rookie season, when he led the Cardinals in scoring with a 12.8 PPG mark, Rafferty cracked the 20-point plateau, netting 21 points vs. Dickinson and 20 against Curry.
Upping the amount of all-NESCAC football honorees from last year's record number of 12 to 13 in 2014, Wesleyan also has the unique pleasure of harboring both the Offensive Player of the Year in QB Jesse Warren '15 (#2, left side photo) and the Defensive Player of the Year in DB Jake Bussani '14 (#1, right side photo). This is the first year since 2008, when Trinity claimed both major honors after an 8-0 season, that one team secured offensive and defensive POTY honors. It is Wesleyan first-ever such honors in football. Bussani, a four-year first-team all-NESCAC performer, led the NESCAC in interceptions with seven, returning them for 108 yards and two TDs. Bussani picked off a Wesleyan-record 18 passes over his four seasons. He made 30 tackles in 2014, upping his career total to 118, and had five PBs, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery this year. Warren, named Co-Offensive POTY, was a three-year starter and celebrated another outstanding season as he led the NESCAC in passing efficiency with a 152.56 mark. He ranked second in passing TDs with 15 and passing yards with 1,513 while completing a league-best 65.8 percent of his attempts. He also threw a league-low two interceptions.
Getting a game-high 24 points along with 13 rebounds from tournament MVP Joseph Kuo '17 (#1, right in photo), Wesleyan trailed for only 1:03 during the title game of the Herb Kenny Tip-Off Tournament hosted by the Cardinals Sun., Nov. 16 in securing a tight 61-60 victory over Worcester St. It was the first-ever meeting of the colleges in men's basketball action. The Cardinals also got 10 points and a game-best 17 caroms from Rashid Epps '16 (#00, left in photo), who was chosen for the all-tournament team for the second year in a row. The Cardinals reined their spot in the title game by making short work of its first-ever meeting with Sarah Lawrence, scoring 13 straight points to extend an early 13-8 margin to 26-8 and never looking back en route to a 100-51 first-round win Sat., Nov. 15. The Cardinals led 59-22 at halftime. Wesleyan shot a brisk 8-for-10 on three-pointers in the first half, led by Jack Mackey '16 and BJ Davis '16 with two each as six different Cardinals hit a trey.
Wesleyan avenged a season-opening home loss to Little Three and NESCAC rival Williams, 3-1, Sat., Nov. 15 by defeating the Ephs, 5-0, in the rematch Sun., Nov. 16. For the Cardinals, the victory represented the largest margin against Williams since a 6-0 triumph in Middletown Feb. 16, 1994, spanning more than 20 years. Wesleyan and Williams have now split their last four NESCAC series, all at the start of the year. Williams entered the weekend ranked 11th nationally in the most recent USCHO.com poll and is the defending NESCAC tournament champion. Wesleyan moved ahead 1-0 on Mackenzie McPike's '15 (#14, photo upper right) first of two goals on the afternoon as she followed up a shot by Jess Brennan '17, scoring high on the left side at 7:26 of the first period. Wesleyan added a pair of markers in both the second and third periods while keeper Laura Corcoran '16 (#30, main photo) was brilliant in making 28 saves for her fourth career shutout in 18 starts.
Getting her Wesleyan career off to a sizzling start, Laila Samy '18 (photo) swept each of her five opponents at #1 while yielding no more than seven points in any game to help the Cardinals go 3-2 during the Wesleyan Round Robin Sat.-Sun., Nov. 15-16. Included among her victories was an 11-7, 11-3, 11-7 triumph over last year's #31-ranked nationally top player from Bates. Wesleyan defeated Tufts, 9-0; William Smith, 8-1; and Mount Holyoke, 9-0; while coming up short against Middlebury, 8-1, and Bates, 6-3. At last season's NESCAC Championship, Bates, currently ranked 14th nationally, took second place and Middlebury, ranked 15th, took third. Wesleyan holds the #21 spot in the country at present.
Hitting the road for its opening NESCAC series of the year, Wesleyan got off to a solid start at Tufts Sat., Nov. 15, taking the lead on the first goal in the career of Marty Rubin '18 just 5:32 into the game and holding the lead the rest of the way en route to a 5-2 victory. Jay Matthews '16 (#12, main photo) lit the lamp twice in the contest, netting the next two Cardinal markers including the lone goal of the second period that lifted Wesleyan's advantage to 3-1 at the time, proving to be the eventual game-winner. James Kline '17 (#25, photo insert upper right) chipped in with a goal and an assist to support the cause. The final Wesleyan tally came from Cole Morrissette '17 in the final minute into an empty net. James Albrecht '15 came up with a pair of assists as the third Cardinal with a two-point night. In goal, Dawson Springings '17 made 31 saves for a .939 save percentage on the evening.
Facing some stiff competition to begin the year, Wesleyan got a 3-0 effort at #7 from David Sneed '17 (photo) to pace the Cardinals during a 1-2 team result during the Wesleyan Round Robin Sat.-Sun., Nov. 15-16. Drawing the teams that placed third and fourth in last year's NESCAC Championship, Bates and Middlebury, respectively, as well as Tufts, the Cardinals made short work of the Jumbos with a 9-0 shellacking but then fell by a 6-3 count to both the Panthers and Bobcats. Bates is currently ranked 13th in the country while Middlebury is 19th. Wesleyan sits 20th in the latest national rankings. Sneed downed his Tufts rival, 3-0, the produced hard-fought 3-1 victories against Middlebury and Bates.
Averaging more points and rebounds after the opening two games than any other two Cardinals combined, Brenna Diggins '17 (#32, photo) was named to the all-tournament team at the Eastern Conn. Tip-Off Tournament Sat.-Sun., Nov. 15-16 as Wesleyan dropped its first-round matchup with Framingham St., 55-38, but came back to capture the consolation battle with Newbury, 72-35. Coincidentally, Newbury will be Wesleyan's next opponent as the Cardinals and Nighthawks will be first-round rivals during the upcoming Courtyard by Marriott Tournament hosted by Wesleyan Fri.-Sat., Nov. 21-22. The Friday night game will have a webcast and LiveStats. Diggins had a solid double-double during the consolation win with 15 points and 15 rebounds after collecting 12 points and eight boards in the setback to Framingham. As a result, she averages 13.5 points and 11.5 rebounds a game. Wesleyan took control of the game vs. Newbury with a 12-0 run over six minutes of the first half to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 15-4 lead.
Isaiah Bellamy '18 (photo by Amber Dimitroff '16) went 4-1 at 197 pounds to take second place in leading the Cardinals to a fifth-place team finish among 12 teams at the Roger Williams Invitational Sat., Nov. 15. Wesleyan entered 21 grapplers and five of them placed among the top-six in their respective weight class. Bellamy posted three tight decisions on his way to the semifinals. He then came up with a second-period pin to earn a spot in the finals. There he fell by a 14-5 score to David Welch of Roger Williams, who earned All-America honors last March with a seventh-place finish at 184 pounds at the NCAA Division III Championships. Wesleyan had a trio of fourth-place finishers with Taran Carr '16 going 5-2 at 165 pounds; Ryan Sblendorio '15 posting a 3-2 mark at 174 pounds; and Matt Pelton '17 going 3-1 at 141 pounds to secure their fourth-place laurels.
Taking all 16 events, led by Liyan Yao '16 (photo), who won both the 100 and 200 backstroke as well as the 200 individual medley, the Cardinals rolled to a 220-70 victory against Brandeis to open the campaign. Up next for the team is a visit from Bates Sat., Nov. 22 for a meet slated for a webcast. Yao was the only Cardinal to take three individual titles, but three Wesleyan swimmers won two crowns while also supporting a relay or two to a first-place finish. Angela Slevin '15 captured both the 200 and 500 free and started the Cardinals to a triumph in the 200 medley relay while helping the 200 free relay to a win. Rachel Hirsch '15 was the winner of the 100 and 200 breaststroke and was part of the victorous 200 medley relay. Serena Zalkowitz '17 took titles in the 50 and 100 free and anchored the 200 free relay to its three-second triumph. Also with a pair of wins for Wesleyan was diver Natasha Cucullo '15.