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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best Ever?

We're now completely finished with the fall sports seasons and what did we learn?

We learned that our fall sports teams had a pretty good fall, that's what we learned.  O.k., an understatement for sure, as pretty good doesn't do what just happened justice.  At all.

Old news to many of you, but just to reiterate - the Maverick football team just completed its most-successful season ever.  13 straight wins to start with.  A Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Southern Division title.  A Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference overall title.  A berth in the NCAA Division II tournament.  A bye in the first round as a result of being the #1 seed.  Win over Northwest Missouri State in a second round game and a vanquishing of Missouri Western in a national quarterfinal game with both games played at historic Blakeslee Stadium. Then a national semi-final game at The Blake with Valdosta State traveling from Georgia to take on the Mavericks.  Crazy to think about it, but MSU hosted three NCAA football tournament games in 2012 and two of those games were in December.  IN DECEMBER! While the Mavericks may have lost to Valdosta to finish 13-1 for the year (Valdosta ended up winning the national title, by the way), the season was anything but unforgettable and certainly unprecedented.

The Maverick women's soccer team, meanwhile also entered uncharted waters by advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight after capturing its first-ever regional championship.  MSU also claimed its first-ever NSIC regular-season title and including a #1-ranking for two weeks in October, was ranked in the top 25 of every poll in 2012.  The Mavericks finished the year with a 17-1-5 overall record. Nicole Dooher was the league's Offensive Player of the Year, Lauren Sommers the NSIC Defensive Player of the Year, Caitlin Graboskie the conference Newcomer of the Year and Peter McGahey the NSIC Coach of the Year. It had never happened before, but this year the Mavericks swept the NSIC postseason individual awards. MSU led the NSIC in virtually every statistical category and set 21 team or individual school records along the way.

The Maverick men's cross country team returned to the NCAA national meet for the first time since 2008 and posted a 20th place finish.  And although the women's cross country team didn't make it to the NCAA meet (they finished seventh at the regional meet after placing 13th at the same meet the year before), at one point they were rated #20 in the nation.

The question has come up as to whether or not this is the best-ever start for the Maverick Department of Athletics. The Directors' Cup standings, which awards points to schools based on how they finish in NCAA competition in order to determine the top athletic departments in the nation, have the Mavericks in sixth place following the completion of the fall sports season. The Maverick football team finished third nationally and women's soccer placed fifth. Throw in men's cross country and MSU had three teams score points nationally this fall.  Since the inception of the Directors' Cup in 1995-96, the previous best for MSU following the fall was a seventh-place rating in 1995-96 (women's cross country was fourth nationally that year and men's cross country was fifth).

MSU has had other great falls prior to 1995-96, when the Directors' Cup standings were inaugurated.  For example, in 1987-88 the men's cross country team finished second and the football team played in a NCAA quarterfinal game.  Based on the system used by the Directors' Cup folks, MSU would have received 160 points in 1987-88, placing it 17th in this year's standings. MSU has been credited with 210 points this year, based on the national finishes of football, women's soccer and men's cross country.  The next-best point total of 164 points for the Mavericks was in 2007-08 when men's cross country was fifth, women's soccer was ninth and women's volleyball was 33rd. MSU was rated 14th following the fall that year based on those 164 points.  You heard it here - a case can be made that this is the best fall ever for Minnesota State Athletics.

It is interesting to note that when the Mavericks finished second in the final Directors' Cup standings in 2008-09 (our best final finish ever), MSU stood 22nd after the fall.

Have a great Holiday Season everyone!  It's great to be a Maverick!

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