|All-Americans Michelle Greeneway, Christina Pekar, Sam Freedberg, Leo Podolsky, Dan Cordova, and C.J. Laffey|
With two new varsity programs (men's and women's golf), three conference titles, five teams placing in NCAA Division III play, another sweep of the national handball titles, and a school record number of victories, 2014-15 was an extremely successful year for Forester Athletics.
Lake Forest teams combined to post a 95-41-5 record in conference play on the year, good for an impressive .691 winning percentage. The Foresters were also 168-114-10 (.592) in all contests, surpassing the previous school record for overall wins by four.
Athletic success at the College was not limited to the conference level. With contributions from softball, women's soccer, women's hockey, and both swimming and diving teams, Lake Forest had its highest finish in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, placing among the top 20 percent of NCAA Division III institutions. The Directors' Cup measures schools' performance in NCAA Championship Tournaments and Meets.
The first conference title of the year was turned in by the Forester women's soccer team, which rattled off 21 consecutive victories to start the season, including two at home to win the Midwest Conference Tournament and one more on Farwell Field in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Another MWC championship was claimed by the men's swimming & diving team, which outscored the rest the league for the second straight season. The swimming and diving program's success continued at the NCAA Championships, where Lake Forest appeared in both the men's and women's team standings for the first time since 2000. The NCAA Championships were also a destination for the women's hockey team, which came out on top in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Slaats Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row to earn one of just eight bids to the national tournament. Saving the College's best performance on the national stage for last, the Forester softball team claimed a second straight MWC championship before hosting and eliminating three nationally-ranked teams en route to a NCAA Regional Tournament title.
There were also many highlights outside of NCAA postseason competition, beginning in the fall with the debut of the Forester women's golf team, which won all four of its dual matches and placed fifth at the MWC Championships. The football team won its final two games of the season while the volleyball and men's soccer teams combined for a 13-5-2 league record and qualified for their respective four-team MWC Tournaments. The men's cross country team had its highest finish (third) at the MWC Championships while the women were just one place off their top finish in fifth.
In winter the Forester handball program and head coach Mike Dau '58 brought home their 47th, 48th, and 49th national championships. Lake Forest swept the men's, women's, and combined team titles for the fifth time in the last seven years and the seventh time overall. At 15-7-5, the men's hockey team had its best season in more than a decade and its school record 15-game unbeaten streak, which began in November and ended in February, was the longest in the nation this season. In basketball, the women won eight of their last 10 games while the men averaged 78.3 points per contest, the program's highest mark in 26 years. The women's swimming & diving team was the runner-up at the MWC Championships for the third year in a row.
The Forester men's golf team competed as a varsity sport for the first time since 1970 and had 10 different players post team-best scores in at least one round. Lake Forest was represented in the both the men's and women's four-team MWC Tennis Tournaments in the spring and the men were the league's runners-up.
As you would expect, individual accolades accompanied the Foresters' team success throughout 2014-15. MWC Coach of the Year honors went out to a pair of Lake Forest alumni who led their teams to league titles. T.R. Bell '96 earned the award in women's soccer for the fourth time in his career and Vadim Tashlitsky '00 is now a two-time honoree in men's swimming & diving (also has four such awards on the women's side). Among the College's 49 all-conference selections were MWC Women's Soccer Offensive Player of the Year Michelle Greeneway and Defensive Player of the Year Ellen Rogers. Lake Forest also swept the league's annual awards in women's swimming & diving with Victoria Karker claiming the MWC Swimmer of the Year honor and Christina Pekar earning her third straight Diver of the Year award. Leo Podolsky was the NCHA Player of the Year and Sam Freedberg the MWC Men's Swimmer of the Year in the winter while Jessi Werner's performance in the circle this spring earned her MWC Pitcher of the Year accolades.
Greeneway became the College's career leader in goals in both women's soccer and hockey and earned All-American honors in both sports. Pekar (top eight in both diving events) and Freedberg (15th in 400-IM) were All-Americans in swimming & diving while Podolsky earned the honor in men's hockey. Handball All-America honors went to Dan Cordova, who claimed the national Open Singles title after three straight runner-up finishes, and C.J. Laffey, who teamed with Cordova for a runner-up finish in Open Doubles.
While 2014-15 was a banner year for Forester Athletics, the future looks just as bright. Just nine of the College's all-conference performers were seniors and more than half (26 of 49) still have at least two more years of eligibility. Lake Forest teams should continue to contend for conference titles and more in 2015-16.