Welcome to the SHUPirates.com countdown of the top 15 moments from the 2008-09 athletic season. Check back every weekday to relive your favorite memories on the way to number one!
#7 “Pirates of the Caribbean” November 20, 2008
Far from their New Jersey home, the Seton Hall men’s basketball team proved that the Caribbean is a perfect place for a Pirate. The Hall erased a 15-point halftime deficit to shock #19 USC, 63-61, in the quarterfinal round of the 2008 O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-off. Sophomore Jeremy Hazell hit a game-winning three-pointer with 1:20 remaining in regulation.
Down 43-28 at intermission, the Pirates came roaring out of the gate in the second half with a 10-0 run in the first three minutes. Junior Eugene Harvey connected on one of two fouls shots with 7:32 left to bring Seton Hall to within one point, 53-52, and a free throw by sophomore Mike Davis tied the game at 55 with 4:14 remaining. The contest was even at 59 when Hazell connected on the decisive bucket from downtown.
After falling to #12 Memphis in the semifinals, the Hall regrouped to claim third place by defeating Virginia Tech, 77-73, on the tournament’s final day.
Coming Friday - #6 “Exorcising the Demons”
#8 “All That Matters” October 25, 2008
Undoubtedly one of the top volleyball players to ever don the blue and white, junior Allie Matters cemented her place in the records books when Seton Hall took on DePaul at Walsh Gymnasium this past fall.
Matters set the school single-season dig record in the first set, breaking the previous mark of 415 set by Jessica Pompei in 2006. Amazingly, the Pirates had seven games remaining on the schedule, allowing Matters to establish a new record of 576.
Matters set a BIG EAST record with eight matches where she recorded 20 or more digs, while also becoming just the fourth player since 2001 to total double-digit digs in every conference match. A Second Team All-BIG EAST selection, she led the conference in digs per set.
#9 “Felling The Favorites” March 20-22, 27-28, 2009
The Seton Hall baseball team kicked off conference play with a pair of tough matchups. First up was a three-game set at Notre Dame, followed the next weekend by a visit from Louisville, the preseason BIG EAST favorite.
After dropping game one to the Fighting Irish, who were picked third in the preseason BIG EAST poll, the Pirates rebounded to win the final two games of the series. Senior Keith Cantwell and sophomore Joe DiRocco were tough on the hill while picking up the wins, and the offense proved clutch the entire weekend, batting .440 and scoring 19 runs with two out.
Back home to face the Cardinals, junior Sean Black went the distance on the mound and sophomore Frank Esposito ripped a three-run triple in a 5-3 victory in game one. The teams reconvened for a doubleheader the following day, and Louisville scratched out an 8-6 win in an epic 17-inning affair to begin the day. But the Pirates proved resilient, cruising to a 6-0 victory in the nightcap behind DiRocco’s complete game effort and junior Bobby Abreu’s two RBI singles. The Cardinals went on to win the BIG EAST Championship and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals.
#10 “An XL-ent Performance” March 6, 2009
Despite coming into the BIG EAST Championship as the #15 seed, the Seton Hall women’s basketball team had reason to feel confident. The Pirates first round opponent at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., would be the #10 seed Georgetown, a team they had beaten four days earlier, 64-54.
Down one point at halftime, the Hall overwhelmed the Hoyas in the second half on its way to a 70-45 triumph. The 25-point margin of victory was the largest in history for the Pirates in the BIG EAST Championship, and it was their first win in the conference tournament since 2003.
Sophomore Ebonie Williams led four Pirates in double figures with 15 points. The senior duo of Noteisha Womack and Jadis Rhodin each netted 13 points, as did freshman Kandice Green. The Seton Hall defense was the story of the contest, as the Hoyas were limited to 25.9 percent shooting from the floor and just 9.1 percent from 3-point territory. The Pirates shot a season high 43 free throws, connecting on 29. The Hall also dominated the glass, 46-33, behind nine boards from Womack and eight from Green.
#11 “Fantastic Five” April 3-4, 2009
The Seton Hall track and field program enjoyed a standout performance at the Colonial Relays in Williamsburg, Va., with numerous athletes and relay teams qualifying for postseason events. The efforts of one runner, however, proved most notable as junior Jernail Hayes came away with five victories on the weekend.
Hayes and the squad of Alexandra McCoy, Toneisha Friday and Clarisse Moh blew away the competition with a 3:39.59 performance en route to punching a ticket to the regionals for the third straight year in the 4x400-meter relay. Hayes and Friday were also on the victorious 4x100-meter relay squad with Shameeka Speed and Adama Pitts who earned the right to compete at the ECAC’s with a 46.18 performance. In the 4x100-meter shuttle hurdles, Speed and Hayes joined Alexandra Hehn and Charisse Bryant to set a facility record in the event after crossing the tape in 1:01.00.
Hayes also had a strong weekend individually, winning both the 400-meter hurdles and 200-meter dash while qualifying for the ECAC Championships in both races. Hayes hit a mark of 1:01.61 in the hurdles, and ran a 24.18 in the 200.
#12 “A Rarity On The Rubber” March 6, 2009
On a day when the Seton Hall softball team pushed across 11 runs against Fairleigh Dickinson, junior pitcher Ashley Forsyth would have been content with just one Pirate touching home safely. Forsyth fired a no-hitter over five innings, recording nine of the 15 outs via strikeout, before the mercy rule was invoked. She walked three while also hitting three batters as control proved to be her only obstacle on the day.
Forsyth became just the eighth pitcher in school history to toss a no-hitter, and the first to do so since 2006 when Ashley Arnett blanked LaSalle.
#13 “Turn Back The Clock” April 24-26, 2009
With a three-game weekend series looming against BIG EAST rival Georgetown, the Seton Hall baseball team welcomed back members of the 1974 and 1975 squads that reached the College World Series. Former major leaguer Rick Cerone highlighted a group of 16 returning players set to be honored during the final game of the set.
In game one, junior Sean Black hurled eight shutout innings, striking out six along the way, and a two-run single by senior Chris Affinito was the difference in the Pirates’ 2-0 victory. Senior Keith Cantwell was even better in game two, tossing his third complete game of the year and striking out six as the Hall cruised to a 6-0 win. In game three, played on a beautiful Sunday afternoon before the former Pirate greats, Seton Hall completed the sweep behind seven strong innings from sophomore Joe DiRocco and a two-run triple by Affinito in a 6-5 win. It was the perfect ending to the weekend’s celebration of the blue and white baseball tradition.
#14 “A Smashing Success” September 13-14, 2008
In its first tournament of the fall season, the Seton Hall tennis team captured two individual and one doubles championship at the Hofstra Tournament, led by senior Danielle Viola and sophomore Belfin Sunbul. Viola, playing in the #4 singles bracket, and Sunbul, who participated in the #5 singles bracket, did not lose a set en route to their respective tournament wins. The two also teamed up to take the #3 doubles bracket crown, winning three matches to secure the championship. On the final day of competition, Viola topped the Pride’s Morganne Downing in straight sets, 6-3 and 6-0, while Sunbul was equally dominant in her 6-0, 6-3 triumph over Radford’s Antonietta Iosue. Viola and Sunbul then rolled past Faifield’s duo of Alyssa Ruiz and Caitlin Savoy to seal the #3 double’s bracket title.
Viola and Sunbul were the Pirates’ top two individual players on the season, with Viola compiling nine singles wins and Sunbul racking up a team-best 16-3 individual mark. As a doubles pair, they were ranked #54 in the East Region by the ITA prior to the spring season.
#15 “Overtime Magic” September 14, 2008
With less than three minutes remaining in the second overtime, the Seton Hall women’s soccer team found itself tied with Columbia in the final game of the St. John’s NYC Nike Classic. The Pirates, just a goal away from the tournament championship, summoned the energy for a decisive final rush. Sophomore midfielder Nicki Gross took a pass from junior midfielder Kaitlyn Rogers and found the back of the net to give the Hall a 3-2 victory and its fourth win in five games. Gross’ clutch score earned her the Most Valuable Player Award.
Gross would remain one of the Pirates’ top offensive threats throughout the season, finishing second on the team in both goals with four and points with 10. Rogers was right behind in both categories, checking in with three goals and seven points.