CLEVELAND – The University of New Hampshire amassed 133 points in the final fall Division I Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings to rank 41st of 148 teams that earned points (314 Div. I schools overall). UNH is the highest ranked team in the America East conference as well as fourth best among both FCS and New England schools.
New Hampshire recorded points in three of a possible eight fall sports with NCAA tournament appearances in field hockey, football and volleyball. The Wildcats earned 83 points by virtue of third place in FCS football as well as 25 points in both field hockey (ninth place) and volleyball (33rd place).
UNH, under the direction of 15th-year head coach Sean McDonnell, capped its nation-leading 10th consecutive appearance in the FCS championship tournament by advancing to the semifinals for the first time in program history and ending the year ranked No. 5 in the nation. The Wildcats won six consecutive games, including four against nationally-ranked teams, as part of a 10-5 overall season. The postseason run was comprised of victories against Lafayette (45-7), Maine (41-27) and Southeastern Louisiana (20-17) and a loss to eventual champion North Dakota State.
The field hockey team – led by the conference Defensive Player of the Year (All-America First Team selection Megan Bozek; Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), Goalkeeper of the Year (Carlie Tarbell; Wakefield, Mass.) and Coaching Staff of the Year (head coach Robin Balducci) – won the America East Championship for the second time in three years to become one of just 19 teams to advance to the 2013 NCAA tournament. UNH, which also captured the conference regular-season title for the fourth consecutive year, was defeated by Duke University in an NCAA first round game to end the year with a 15-7 overall record and No. 16 ranking.
The volleyball team, led by the conference Player of the Year Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) and Coaching Staff of the Year (head coach Jill Hirschinger), swept the America East regular-season and tournament titles to advance to the 2013 NCAA tourney. UNH entered the NCAAs on a season-high nine-match win streak but was defeated by sixth-ranked University of Southern California in the first round to end the year with a 20-13 overall record that included 12-2 in conference play.
Reigning champion Stanford University sits atop the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup leaderboard with 461.25 points. Michigan State (382.50 points), Florida State (351.5), North Carolina (333) and Virginia (323) complete the top five.
Providence College (20th; 208.5 points), University of Connecticut (29th; 173) and Boston College (36th; 151) are the three New England schools higher than UNH. The three FCS schools ahead of the ‘Cats are Georgetown University (18th; 216), Princeton University (35th; 156) and Coastal Carolina (40th; 134).
The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in up to 20 sports – 10 women and 10 men.
The first Division I winter standings will be released March 27.
Learfield Sports has developed relationships with some of the most revered institutions and associations in the world of college athletics and that includes UNH. Learfield’s rights encompass all athletic department media and sponsorships components, including stadium signage and numerous content distribution platforms such as radio, television and digital networks. This marks the sixth consecutive year for the company to title the prestigious Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup.