MILLSBORO, Del. -- The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) claimed their third Hawk Classic championship on Sunday, defeating Fairleigh Dickinson 4-0 in the championship match.
"It's definitely a little different competing as a head coach than as a player," said first-year head coach Kayla Bandy. "The girls bowled superbly and their practice showed on the lanes. It felt great to have things fall into place this weekend. The pins fell when we needed them to."
The Hawks opened the day seeded first and drew second-seed FDU right off the bat. UMES quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead with wins of 199-173 and 159-137. FDU got their ship settled and sailed to two wins of their own, tying the match at two apiece, 183-156 and 169-163. The Hawks quickly rebounded in Game 5 getting a 20-pin win 197-177. Game six was all UMES, 225-176. While the format gave UMES a 4-2 win, the pinfall was also substantial as the Hawks out bowled the Knights by 84 pins, 1099-1015.
Seven Hawks had a hand in the win as Megan Buja, Valerie Riggin, Justyne Falbo, Sara Pelayo and Mariana Alvarado started the match. Victoria Jones and Tatiana Munoz both subbed into the match to help secure the win.
With the win, UMES secured a place in the championship match and would wait another round to see who they would face. In the meantime the 16-team bracket left the loser of the 15 vs. 16 match without a team to play. Unfortunately for New Jersey City, they were defeated in that match and had to play the hot rolling Hawks.
Buja, Falbo, Munoz, Riggin and Alvarado made quick work of the Gothic Knights 4-0 (197-132, 177-100, 220-125, 174-112). UMES won the pins as well, 768-469.
While UMES was busy topping FDU in Round 1, Kutztown upset Central Missouri. Kutztown drew the defeated FDU Knights in Round 2 but they were looking for revenge against the Hawks and held on to defeat the Golden Bears 4-3, setting up the rematch between two of the top teams in the Northeast Region.
The Hawks however were not even entertaining the thought of FDU's revenge. UMES dominated game one 204-181 and then took Game 2 259-179, jumping out on the Knights after they opened with a pair of open frames. The Hawks tossed five strikes in a row to stretch the lead to a healthy 80 pins.
Game 3 saw the Hawks start a little slow while FDU closed frames. The Hawks caught up however due to four strikes in a row and then went back and forth with the Knights, coming out ahead 233-225 and taking a huge 3-0 lead in the match.
Game 4 was a slugfest. FDU was trying to stay alive and UMES was bowling for a title. Frame after frame the two region heavyweights threw strikes and spares but in the end it was UMES up 222-216, clinching it in the 10th frame on a pair of Alvarado strikes.
"We faced some tough competition this weekend and the team came to win and did! I am so proud of them," said Bandy.
Megan Buja finished second overall in the team games and was named to the All-Tournament Team in her last Hawk Classic. Alvarado earned the tournament high game award with her 279 from Saturday. More importantly, the team took the trophy home to Princess Anne.
"This is my first home tournament and there could have been so many distractions with the organization and work going into it and it being senior day for Megan [Buja]," Bandy said. "But the team focused and the staff at Millsboro Lanes and the staff from UMES Athletics made the event a huge success. I am proud of the team and grateful for the help with the event."