Foresters Experience Unprecedented Success in 2018-19

Foresters Experience Unprecedented Success in 2018-19

While Lake Forest fans are used to their teams performing at a high level, several Foresters took their accomplishments to new heights in 2018-19.

Teams at the College continued to win at an impressive rate, combining for a .590 overall winning percentage and a stellar .694 mark in conference play. Softball and women's tennis captured regular season conference championships and joined men's basketball and men's golf with conference tournament titles as well. The softball team made its 10th trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament while men's basketball and women's tennis accomplished the feat for the first time. 

Diver Heath Ogawa repeated as Division III National Diver of the Year and Jorge Villanueva became the first cross country runner in school history to qualify for the NCAA Championship Meet. They were two of 59 Foresters to earn all-conference accolades and Lake Forest athletes were named conference player/performer of the week 29 times. There were also a pair of Northern Collegiate Hockey Association All-Freshman Team honorees, a Midwest Conference South Division Newcomer of the Year in football, a MWC Player of the Year in men's golf, and a sweep of the MWC Diver of the Year awards. Lake Forest athletes and teams combined to set or match 80 school records on the year.

Excellence was also displayed in the classroom with men's and women's hockey combining for 23 NCAA All-Academic Team awards and the rest of the teams expected to challenge the school record for Academic All-MWC honorees when the league releases the list in July. Individual honors also include a pair of MWC Elite 20 awards, given to the athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average at each sport's championship competition. In addition, a record-breaking 88 student-athletes were invited to the A-Team Dinner in April, which rewarded those Foresters who earned an A in all of their classes in either of the previous two semesters.

Lake Forest coaches were also recognized for their success with three MWC Coach of the Year honors and an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year award.

Fall

A sport-by-sport account of 2018-19 begins with the most successful year of women's tennis in school history. Raquel Vescovi was named MWC Coach of the Year after her Foresters won all nine of their conference matches in the fall and 77 of 81 individual singles and doubles points within those contests. They also turned in one of the most dominant performances in league history at the MWC Individual Tournaments, claiming eight titles with a runner-up finish at the other spot in the lineup. Lake Forest blanked St. Norbert College and Grinnell College 5-0 at the conference tournament in the spring to secure the program's first trip to the NCAA Tourney, where the team advanced to the second round to finish the year 22-4. Julie Lord '21 was the conference champion at the top of the singles and doubles lineups, Allison Watts '19 finished her career with the most singles (77) and doubles (89) victories in team history, and Emma Wang '21 posted a perfect 24-0 record in singles.

The Lake Forest football team was 6-4 overall and 4-1 in the MWC South, where the Foresters placed second in the divisional standings for the second year in a row. Quarterback Jagan Cleary '19 became the first signal-caller in school history to throw six touchdown passes in a game and he finished his four years as the program's career leader in completions, passing yards, touchdown passes, completion percentage, and efficiency rating. He was one of a dozen players on the team to earn All-MWC South honors, a list that includes eight First Team selections. Safety Anthony Reick '22 was named MWC South Newcomer of the Year playing for a defense that was led by Jordan McInerney '19, who racked up nine sacks and 23 tackles for loss.

After finishing fifth at the 2014 MWC Championship Tournament in its first year as a varsity sport, the Forester women's golf team climbed to fourth in the league in 2015 and placed third the next two years. The team moved up yet another spot to second in the standings at this year's championship tournament, thanks in large part to All-MWC (top 10) performances by Amanda Lee '21 and Faith Jung '21. Lee's 75 in round two of the conference tourney is the second-lowest score in program history and her scoring average of 86.69 ranks third in team annals.

The Forester men's soccer team finished 2018 with a 10-7-1 overall record and finished 6-3-0 in the league to qualify for the four-team MWC Tournament for the eighth year in row. Forward Lucas Geib '20 led the squad with 13 goals and six assists and was named First Team All-MWC and Second Team All-North Region. Lake Forest also had three Second Team All-MWC selections, including goalkeeper Tero Elias '19, who finished his career with a program record 28 victories.

After a difficult start to the season, the women's soccer team blanked four consecutive opponents, its longest shutout streak in 15 years, and finished 8-9-1 overall and 4-4-1 in MWC play. The Foresters led the league in goals against average during conference play and defenders Molly Major '19 and Hiwa Brown '22 were Second Team All-MWC selections. Led by Morgan Henrichs '21 with 15 points, 15 players on the team had at least one goal or assist.

The volleyball team closed out the season with an overall record of 12-15 and the Foresters' 5-4 mark in conference play was the team's best since 2014. Outside hitter Grace Larson '19 was named First Team All-MWC after earning Second Team honors each of the last three years. She is just the sixth player in program history to make an all-conference list four times. Heather Noll left the College after seven years as head coach and was replaced in the spring by Katie Rueffer.

The fall sports season was extended this year by Jorge Villanueva '19, who became the first Forester cross country runner to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championship Meet. After becoming the program's first four-time All-MWC honoree with a third-place finish at the conference meet, Villanueva was 29th at the NCAA Midwest Regional to earn a spot in the national championship field. The Lake Forest men (3rd) and women (5th) matched their best collective finish in the MWC and, individually, Yaneli Guajardo '21 was the runner-up in the women's race while Philip Wilson '20 (10th) and Christian Aldana '19 (15th) joined Villanueva with All-MWC status on the men's side.

Winter

First-time appearances in NCAA postseason play continued in the winter when the Forester men's basketball team defeated Grinnell College 99-77 and host St. Norbert College 68-64 to win the MWC Tournament for the first time. Lake Forest was third in the MWC standings at 12-6 in league play and the team's NCAA Tourney loss to the eventual national champions ended its season at 18-10. The highest-scoring team in program history was led by First Team All-MWC guard Sean Espinosa '21 with 18.2 points per game and Second Team forward Danny Sotos '19 finished his four years ranked tied-for-seventh in team history with 1,364 points. In April the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association recognized Lake Forest Head Coach Ken Davis as one of its Coaches of the Year.

Thanks to victories in four of the last five regular season games, the women's basketball team finished 13-13 and was also third in the standings at 12-6 in the MWC, its best league record in more than a decade. Versatile guard Kelsey Burton '21 was named First Team All-MWC after leading the conference in three-point shooting and ranking among the top 10 in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game. Forward Hannah Hiland '19 was a Second Team honoree and fellow forward Molly Schoenlein '20 became the program's career leader in blocked shots after just three seasons at the College. Forward Hannah O'Day earned the MWC Elite 20 Award and is Lake Forest's 2019 representative to the NCAA Woman of the Year Program.

January was the key month for the men's hockey team, which began the new year with a seven-game unbeaten streak. Lake Forest finished the season with a 12-10-6 overall record and finished second in the NCHA South Division at 9-5-4 in the league. The Foresters advanced to the semifinals of the NCHA Harris Cup Playoffs after a dramatic, come-from-behind, 2-1 triumph in the 20-minute minigame that decided the quarterfinal series against Aurora University. Forward Josh Giacomin '22 was named to the NCHA All-Freshman Team and goaltender Louis-Philippe De Courcy '19 finished with the best career goals against average and save percentage in team history. De Courcy was also one of the team's league-best 18 NCHA All-Academic Team honorees.

Women's hockey also posted a seven-game unbeaten streak in 2019 and finished the season 16-7-5 overall and in third place in the NCHA with a league mark of 11-3-4. All-NCHA and Second Team West All-American forward Amy Budde '19 scored a conference-high 21 goals and finished her career ranked fifth in team history with 131 points on 61 goals and 70 assists. While Budde paced the offense, goaltender Jacque Rogers '20 kept opponents off the scoreboard with a school record .952 save percentage and became the program's career leader in victories after just three seasons. Defenseman Olyvia Opsahl '22 was named to the NCHA All-Freshman Team, giving the Foresters at least one of the best rookies in the conference for the fifth year in a row.

The Forester handball program proved once again that it is one of the best in the country, placing fourth in the combined team standings at the United States Handball Association National Collegiate Championships at the University of Minnesota. Anthony Sullivan '21 qualified to compete in the Men's Open Singles Division (top 16 players) while Riley Frisbie '20 accomplished the same feat on the women's side. Frisbie was the singles and doubles champion at the Circle City Tournament in Indianapolis earlier in the season.

Swimming and diving continued to rank near the top of the conference standings in 2018-19, claiming nine titles at the MWC Championships and finishing as the runner-up in the men's team standings and third on the women's side. Max Rowland '21 won the 500-freestyle and 400-IM and helped the men's 200-freestyle relay team finish first in the league while three-time MWC Diver of the Year Heath Ogawa '19 swept the diving competition. Lizzie Johns '20 prevailed in 1-meter diving and was MWC Diver of the Year on the women's side while Susan Guo '21 defended her title in the 100-butterfly. Ogawa qualified for his fourth trip to the NCAA Division III Championships, where he capped off an incredible career by being crowned National Diver of the Year for the second straight season after winning the 1-meter event and placing fourth off the 3-meter board.

Spring

The busiest athletes on campus are the distance runners, who after completing the cross country season in the fall, continue their year with indoor and outdoor track during the spring semester. Despite competing in only distance events, the Lake Forest women finished tied-for-seventh and the men were ninth at the MWC Indoor Championships in late February. Guajardo carried the load on the women's side, capturing the first indoor title in program history in the 3000m run after posting runner-up finishes in the mile and 800 earlier in the meet. Villanueva and Emily Staufer '21 were also named All-MWC after finishing second in the men's 5000 and women's 3000, respectively. Villanueva was second again in the 10,000 and Guajardo placed third in the 1500 at the MWC Outdoor Championships in May.

Despite losing three of its top four players from the previous season, the Forester men's tennis team finished 12-10 overall and qualified for the four-team MWC Tournament for the fifth year in a row with a league mark of 6-2 in 2019. Chase Garber '20 owned the best record on the team at 24-11 in singles and doubles combined and, along with Aidan Burke '21, was the runner-up at #2 singles and the MWC Individual Tournaments at the end of the year. Matt Kacyn '19 played atop the Foresters' singles and doubles lineups and reached the semifinals doubles with Joe Bove '19. Bove was also one of three Forester semifinalists in singles.

May 4 was an exciting day in Forester Athletics as two different sports posted dramatic come-from-behind performances to win MWC Tournaments. The Lake Forest men's golf team entered the third and final round of the conference championships in third place and trailing St. Norbert College, the leader, by five strokes. Behind even-par 72s by Ricky Schmidt '19 and Jacob Krugman '20 and a 76 from Parker Hill '19, the Foresters won by six shots and claimed their second straight conference title. Schmidt, who finished second in the individual standings at the tournament, was voted MWC Player of the Year and was joined as All-MWC honorees by Krugman (tied-for-3rd) and Hill (8th). Lake Forest's Brian Bruha '02 was named MWC Coach of the Year for the second time in the last four seasons.

While the men's golf team was surpassing St. Norbert to win one title, softball was doing the same to the Green Knights to claim another. After repeating as the regular season champion with a 14-4 record during league play, Lake Forest hosted the four-team MWC Tournament and won twice on day one to advance to the championship round. The Foresters trailed St. Norbert 4-0 before scoring two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, and two more on a two-out walk-off homer by second baseman Shaye Gauthier '21 in the bottom of the seventh. Making the team's fifth NCAA Tournament apearance in the last six seasons, Lake Forest reached the regional final before falling to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and finished the year 26-17. Centerfielder Maria Zepeda '19 and first baseman Riley Frisbie '20 were named First Team All-MWC and Gauthier was one of the team's three Second Team honorees, as well as the MWC Elite 20 Award recipient. Head Coach Joe Kinsella, who earned his 400th career victory overall on April 6 and his 300th with the Foresters on May 10, was voted MWC Coach of the Year for the fourth time.

Louis-Philippe
De Courcy
Amy Budde

Additional awards were handed out at the annual Senior Honors Convocation at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest on May 10. De Courcy was presented with the Senior Scholar/Athlete Award, which goes to the graduating senior with the highest grade point average during the last three semesters. Meanwhile, Budde received the Nicholas J. Wasylik Senior Athletic Award, which is given to the senior athlete who best emulates the positive, outgoing attitude as well as the drive and determination of the College's Athletic Director from 1959-73.

The 2018-19 Academic All-MWC honorees will be announced in July and several sport-specific academic awards will also be handed out by coaches associations during the summer.