DANBURY, Conn. – Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Commissioner Dr. Kevin T. McGinniss announced today the formation of a Division II ECAC Field Hockey League featuring Bellarmine University, Limestone College, Lindenwood University, and Newberry College. All four previously independent programs will play a traditional home-and-home conference schedule with each other this season.
“It is with great satisfaction that the ECAC announces the formation of a Division II Field Hockey League,” said McGinniss. “I believe the inception of this league will provide a foundation for the four charter members as they develop their programs, enhance their student-athletes’ experience, and ultimately help grow the sport. There is great potential for expansion in the future and we look forward to being a part of it all.”
Bellarmine started its field hockey program in 1986. The Knights’ two most successful seasons came in 2010 and 2011 when they combined to go 28-7 over back-to-back years. Bellarmine will open up the 2014 campaign on September 5th at American International College.
“Bellarmine Field Hockey is very excited to join an outstanding conference in the ECAC,” said Bellarmine Head Field Hockey Coach Mark Blankenbaker. “Bellarmine Athletics has had a great working relationship with the ECAC in the past and we look forward to this exciting next step for our field hockey program. Our players and coaches have worked hard to get our program to the national level, and the affiliation with the ECAC will help in our next goal of competing for the NCAA Division II National Championship.”
Limestone began field hockey in 2009 and enjoyed its most successful season in program history in 2013, going 15-5. The program record for wins included a season sweep of its new conference foes. The Saints defeated both Newberry and Lindenwood on the way to the 2013 ECAC Division II Field Hockey Invitational Tournament. In addition to the ECAC success, the Saints completed the year being ranked every week of the regular season.
“I couldn’t be more excited for the ECAC to create this conference for Division II field hockey,” said Limestone Field Hockey Head Coach Lindsay Jackson. “This is such an important and impactful decision not only for the immediate teams involved but also for the sport of field hockey and growth and recognition of Division II. This is going to have a tremendous impact on the overall experience for our student athletes and that’s the best part about this, we are making it better for them.”
Newberry began field hockey last season, playing its first-ever game on September 5th, 2013 against Limestone in front of a NCAA Division II Field Hockey record crowd. Returning a team of all sophomores, the Wolves will open the 2014 season at Limestone on September 4th.
“On behalf of Newberry College I would like to say how fortunate the Newberry College Field Hockey program feels to officially be a member of the ECAC,” said Newberry Head Field Hockey Coach Catherine Somits. “Given our field hockey program is only going into our second season, this membership absolutely provides us with the support we need to thrive in Division II. I truly believe it also opens another door to spread the game of field hockey at the collegiate level. I am grateful for Lindenwood, Bellermine and Limestone for being a support to Newberry in this process and I look forward to this inaugural season with these fellow member teams.”
Lindenwood field hockey moved to NCAA Division II in 2010 after spending over 40 years as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The 2013 season marked the first time in program history that the Lady Lions could compete for a national championship, as the NAIA did not sponsor a championship for field hockey. Last season, the Lady Lions finished 8-9 after winning five of their last six games. Lindenwood is the largest NCAA Division II program, offering 27 NCAA sponsored sports.
“We are thrilled to be a member of the ECAC Division II Field Hockey League,” said Lindenwood Field Hockey Head Coach Sarah Johnson. “This is a positive step forward, not only for all of our individual programs, but also D-II field hockey overall. We are very thankful to our Athletics Department and the ECAC for their support, and we are very excited for the future of this league.”
About the ECAC
In the 75 years since its inception, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) has emerged as the nation's largest Conference. The ECAC has grown considerably from its charter membership of 58, currently boasting over 300 member schools in Divisions I, II and III, ranging in location from Maine to South Carolina, and westerly to Missouri. In the 2014-15 academic year, the ECAC will host nearly 100 championships in 37 men's and women's sports as the sponsors of over 5,800 varsity teams and 111,000 male and female athletes. For more information, visit www.ecacsports.com.