2016-17 Another Successful Year for the Foresters

2016-17 Another Successful Year for the Foresters

The Lake Forest College men's soccer team extended the athletic department's championship streak to nine years and several Forester teams came extremely close to claiming titles in 2016-17. Seven of the other 18 sports posted runner-up finishes in regular season or postseason play and eight more placed among the top four in their conference or association. Forester teams combined for a stellar .629 winning percentage in league play and Lake Forest athletes earned 50 all-conference honors, 10 all-region distinctions, and eight All-American accolades. Individual Foresters also garnered four conference player/diver of the year awards and three conference newcomer of the year selections while being named player/performer of the week in their respective leagues a school record 44 times. 

The performance of the College's student-athletes in the classroom in 2016-17 was equally impressive. The 16 Northern Collegiate Hockey Association All-Academic Team members between the men's and women's squads combined are the most in the history of the programs and the 15 sports that compete in the Midwest Conference are expected to surpass the school record for Academic All-MWC honorees when the league releases the list in July. Individual honors also include an Academic All-District® selection and a pair of MWC Elite 20 awards, given to the athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average at each sport's championship competition. In addition, a record-breaking 66 student-athletes were invited to the A-Team Dinner in April, which rewarded those Foresters who earned an A in all of their classes in either of the previous two semesters. The men's hockey team led the way with 13 honorees.

While the accomplishments of Forester teams and athletes in 2016-17 were numerous, the first honors of the year actually went to the venues where they train and complete. The Princeton Review ranked Lake Forest 18th in the nation in the "Best Athletic Facilities" category of its 25th Annual College Rankings in August. The College went on to host the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Soccer Showcase in September, the MWC Men's Soccer Tournament in November, and a semifinal series in the NCHA Slaats Cup Playoffs in February. In addition, annual events such as the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Sled Hockey event, Special Olympics Aquatic Meet, and National Girls and Women in Sports Day continue to be held on campus.

Another significant highlight of the year was the announcement that, beginning in 2017-18, the College will be including men's and women's distance track in its slate of varsity programs. With track and the 2014 addition of men's and women's golf, Lake Forest now offers 23 varsity sports. Finally, the department celebrated a milestone as one of its signature programs, the Forester Game Plan, reached its fifth and most successful year of preparing student-athletes for post-graduate success.

Fall Sports

MWC Offensive Player of the Year John Cappuccitti, MWC
Defensive Player of the Year Shari Jacobson, NCHA Player of
the Year Jack Lewis, and MWC Diver of the Year Heath Ogawa

A sport-by-sport account of the 2016-17 academic year begins with the men's soccer team's third MWC title in the last five years and the 17th in program history. Lake Forest was 11-8-0 overall with victories in eight of nine league games and outscored opponents 49-27 on the season. Junior forward John Cappuccitti was named MWC Offensive Player of the Year after leading the conference in points and goals per game and was joined on the All-MWC First Team and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-North Region Third Team by senior midfielder Ellis Rutili and junior defender Elyas Ingram. Senior defender Colin Jackson and sophomore forward Gaston Aubert were Second Team All-MWC selections and junior forward Nipun Chauhan earned the league's Elite 20 Award.

Academic All-District® selection Lindsay
Hartup and MWC Elite 20 Award Winners
Nipun Chauhan and Kat Beall

The Forester women's soccer team was tied for second place in the MWC with a league mark of 6-2-1 and finished the season 10-7-2 overall. Senior midfielder Katelyn Hronek and junior defender Shari Jacobson were named First Team All-MWC with Jacobson adding MWC Defensive Player of the Year honors. Senior defender Amy Sherman was a Second Team All-MWC selection. Senior goalkeeper Rachel Tenuta became the program's career leader in victories and finished her four seasons at 46-14-4 with 18 shutouts. The College Sports Information Directors of America made senior midfielder Lindsay Hartup the program's fifth Academic All-District® selection in the last seven years.

The fall was also highlighted by the football team's third 8-2 season in five years and the Foresters tied for third in the MWC standings with a league mark of 6-2. Among the 36 program records set or tied during the 2016 season were 10 each by senior wide receiver/kick returner Alex Pasiewicz and junior running back Joey Valdivia. Pasiewicz, whose five combined kickoff and punt return touchdowns led the country, also made history by becoming the first player in team history to be named First Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. He was joined by Valdivia, who led the nation in scoring with 30 touchdowns in 10 games, and junior safety/special teams standout R.J. Pompey, who led Lake Forest in tackles and blocked four kicks, on the D3football.com All-American teams. The 2016 Foresters were the highest-scoring team in school history and also set a single-season program record for total yards.

The Lake Forest women's golf team won all four of its dual matches and continued its climb up the conference standings with a third-place finish at the 2016 MWC Championships. Senior Allie Girard finished third in the league as an individual and broke her own single-season program record for scoring average at 82.65. After improving by nearly 30 shots per round from the program's first year of varsity status to the second, the 2016-17 team dropped another 7.5 strokes per round in year three. The Foresters will be led in the future by Sean O'Malley, who took over as head coach in May.

MWC Newcomers of the Year
Leeza Bodnar, Nick Zazove, and Riley Frisbie

The 2016-17 season was the first at the College for tennis coach Raquel Allen, who led the women's team to a 6-3 record in league play in the fall as the Foresters qualified for the four-team MWC Tournament for the 17th time in the 18-year history of the event. Senior Lucia Stumbras posted a team-best 19-4 singles record on the year and was the league's runner-up at #3 singles. Conference coaches selected freshman Leeza Bodnar as the MWC Newcomer of the Year. She is the first Forester in any sport to earn the new award. The team also played eight matches in the spring and finished the year 10-10.

Both Forester cross country teams placed among the top half of teams at the MWC Championships for the third year in a row with the women taking home fourth place and the men fifth. Junior Cassie Lira's sixth-place finish at the league meet is the program's best in more than a decade and she turned in the highest finish in team history at the NCAA Division III Midwest Regional. Sophomore Jorge Villanueva and freshman Phillip Wilson earned All-MWC honors on the men's side by placing 15th and 20th, respectively, at the conference meet. The teams combined to make a dozen new entries on the lists of the program's top 25 women's 6K and men's 8K times.

Sophomore outside hitter Grace Larson led the league in aces and earned her second straight Second Team All-MWC selection in 2016, extending the Forester volleyball team's streak of having at least one all-conference player to 24 years. Lake Forest finished the season 7-17 overall and 3-6 in league play. Larson and senior outside hitter Paige Jespersen combined for 19 double-doubles on the year and senior middle blocker Brittany Avonts finished her career ranked third in program history in blocks and hitting percentage and ninth in kills.

Winter Sports

Four of the College's winter sports finished second in their respective conference or association's regular season or postseason, including the men's basketball team, which reached the championship game of the MWC Tournament for just the second time in program history. Lake Forest finished the season with an overall record of 14-11 and a league mark of 11-7 before ending MWC Tournament host St. Norbert College's 50-game home winning streak against conference opponents in the semifinal round. Senior forward Jim Schick was a First Team All-MWC selection after earning second team honors the last two seasons. He finished his career ranked 13th in program history with 1,204 points and eighth with 795 rebounds. Junior guard Eric Porter led the Foresters in scoring and his 72 three pointers on the year matched the second-highest total in team annals.

The Forester women's hockey team also reached a conference tournament final, advancing to the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Slaats Cup Championship Game for the third time in four seasons. Lake Forest won a program record 21 (games against just six losses and a tie) and was second in the NCHA regular season standings at 14-3-1. Junior Kayla Griffith was a Second Team West All-American as a defenseman and was joined on the All-NCHA Team by junior forward Olivia Spellmire, sophomore forward Amy Budde, freshman defenseman Julia Unterseher, and freshman goaltender Jacque Rogers. Unterseher, Rogers, and forwards Sydney Simone and Lexi Morgan made up two-thirds of the NCHA All-Freshman Team. The Foresters posted a team record 16-game unbeaten streak and their 40 power play goals on the year are also the most in program history.

All-Americans (top row) Leo Canales, Kayla Griffith,
Jack Lewis, Heath Ogawa, (bottom row) Alex Pasiewicz,
R.J. Pompey, Joey Valdivia, and Kyra Vidas

Lake Forest's men's swimming and diving team was the runner-up at the 2017 MWC Championships, extending the team's streak of finishing either first or second in the league to eight years. The Forester women moved up a spot in the standings to third place. Sophomore Heath Ogawa was named MWC Diver of the Year after setting league records in both events at the conference championship meet. He also went on to earn Honorable Mention All-American accolades off both boards at the NCAA Division III Championships. Lake Forest captured MWC titles in 13 events with senior Orion Huey leading the way with individual triumphs in the 200-IM and 200-backstroke to go with first-place finishes in each of his four relay appearances. Junior Lily McCarthy repeated as conference champion in the 1650-freestyle, giving the program 15 titles in the last 27 years in that event.

The men's handball team also turned in a runner-up finish by earning the second-most points at the United States Handball Association National Collegiate Championships at Arizona State University. The Forester women placed fourth and Lake Forest was third in the combined team standings. Despite entering the event as the seventh-seeded player, junior Leo Canales advanced all the way to the Men's Open Singles final. Classmate Kyra Vidas finished as one of the top four U.S. players in Women's Open Singles to join Canales as All-American honorees.

The Forester men's hockey team posted a 16-10-0 overall record and tied a program record with a dozen conference wins against eight losses. The team closed out the regular with seven straight victories to place third in the NCHA South Division standings and qualify for the six-team NCHA Harris Cup Playoffs. Senior forward Jack Lewis led the squad with 17 goals and 15 assists en route to earning NCHA Player of the Year and First Team West All-American honors. Defenseman Connor Duncan tied Lewis for the team lead in assists and was named to the NCHA All-Freshman Team. A dozen Foresters reached double figures in points, matching the team's highest total since the 1999-2000 season. Lewis and defensemen Mark Esshaki and Travis Hill also gained experience playing at the professional level after the completion of their senior season.

A young Lake Forest women's basketball team completed its 2016-17 season with an overall record of 6-17 and a conference mark of 5-13. Sophomore guard Bridget Bilek, who missed almost all of the 2015-16 season due to injury, returned and was named Second Team All-MWC. The Foresters have now had at least one player named to an all-conference team every year since 1986. Eleven different players led the squad in points or rebounds in at least one game and just one senior ranked among the top eight on the team in points.

Spring Sports

The 14-11 Forester men's tennis team came together at the right time and nearly claimed the program's first conference title since 1999. After placing third in the MWC standings with a league record of 6-2, Lake Forest routed second-place Cornell College 5-1 in the semifinals of the MWC Tournament before falling 5-3 to Grinnell College in the championship match. Sophomore Trevor Allen successfully defended his conference title at #2 singles and freshman Nick Zazove, the MWC Newcomer of the Year, won the championship at #3. Allen and senior Ellis Lora-Arceo added a first-place finish at #2 doubles to give the Foresters three conference crowns for the first time in five years. In addition, Lora-Arceo and fellow senior Dragan Trivanovic became the eighth and ninth players in program history to surpass 100 career victories in singles and doubles play combined.

Lake Forest's seventh runner-up finish of the year was turned in by the men's golf team, which completed the three-day MWC Championship Tournament just three strokes off of first place. Junior Davis DeKorte was the league's individual champion by just one shot after posting back-to-back-to-back rounds of 77. The Foresters were the only team in the MWC with four all-conference players as sophomore Ricky Schmidt finished in a tie for fifth place, junior Durham Ghelfi tied for seventh, and freshman Jacob Krugman placed 10th. Krugman matched the third-best round in program history with a 69 earlier in the year and his scoring average of 77.16 is a new school record.

While the Forester softball team's bid for a fourth consecutive conference title fell just short, the team posted a 22-16 overall record in 2016 and qualified for the four-team MWC Tournament for the 18th straight season with a league mark of 12-5. Sophomore centerfielder Maria Zepeda set program records with 51 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. Freshman first baseman joined Zepeda as a First Team All-MWC and All-Great Lakes Region selection and was named MWC Newcomer of the Year after belting a league-high nine home runs, more than the total posted by seven of the other nine teams in the conference. Junior second baseman Jillian Rashid, sophomore third baseman Alyssa Grimm, and freshman catcher Sydney Wyatt were named Second Team All-MWC and junior shortstop Kat Beall repeated as the MWC Elite 20 Award recipient.

Senior Scholar/Athlete Award Winner Lindsay Hartup and
Nicholas J. Wasylik Senior Athletic Award Recipient
Virgil Thomas

The final awards of the year were handed out at the Senior Honors Convocation on May 12. Women's soccer player Lindsay Hartup, who finished her four years with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, was presented with the Senior Scholar/Athlete Award and swimmer Virgil Thomas received the Nicholas J. Wasylik Senior Athletic Award, which is given to the senior athlete who best emulates the positive, outgoing attitude as well as the drive and determination of the College's Athletic Director from 1959-73.