PRINCESS ANNE, Md. — Ninth-ranked Sacred Heart continued to boost its 2011 win total, registering a 9-3 record at the UMES Hawk Classic. The Pioneers’ weekend was highlighted by victories against a pair of programs ranked in the top-three of the latest NTCA poll. Jacqueline Willy paced the Pioneers with a 194 average, good for a 10th place finish, as SHU claimed the sixth position in the event’s final team standings.
Sacred Heart (28-6) got off to a rocky start on day one, splitting its first two matches with a win against Howard before a narrow 13-pin loss to No. 17 Norfolk State. However, the Pioneers would run the table during the rest of day one, picking up three more victories. SHU routed North Carolina A&T and immediately went on to pick up its third victory of the season against defending national champion, and tournament host, No. 2 Maryland-Eastern Shore. The Pioneers closed day one with a 4-1 record on the strength of a 736-661 pasting of Morgan State.
The Pioneers kicked-off day two of the tournament with another high profile win, knocking off third-ranked Central Missouri in a dramatic 895-892 decision. Sacred Heart moved its win streak to six in a row after convincingly downing both Hampton and Delaware State. However, the day would end on a down note as after an entire traditional team game the Pioneers found themselves deadlocked with No. 11 Valparaiso at 761-761. The match went down as a loss for SHU after the Crusaders got the better end of a five frame modified baker roll-off.
Sacred Heart matched up with Northeast Conference rival and sixth-ranked New Jersey City in the first round of the tournament bracket. The Pioneers dispatched the Gothic Knights by winning the deciding game seven in a best-of-seven baker game series. SHU moved to 2-0 on day three with a second-round triumph against No. 14 Delaware State 4-2. However, the Pioneers would have to settle for sixth place in the tournament as third-ranked Central Missouri got a measure of revenge in the final match of the tournament by upending Sacred Heart 4-1.
The Pioneers 9-3 match-play mark at the event was the second best record at the UMES Classic, bettered only by top-ranked Fairleigh Dickinson’s 9-2 performance.