Cardinals Soar in Spring Conference Competitions

Editorial StaffMay 22, 20248min
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By Maxx McNall

The spring season brings many things—blooming flowers, temperatures fit for a Frisbee toss with a friend on Andrus Field, and, more recently, final exams. For five of Wesleyan’s athletic programs, it’s brought something else. Championships. And lots of them.

Two programs—Women’s Tennis and Men’s Crew—have gone undefeated and are amid deep postseason runs. Three won NESCAC championships and five took home the Little Three Championship. 2024 was truly title time for Wesleyan’s spring programs.

Women’s Tennis

The University’s Women’s Tennis is  undefeated for the second time in three seasons and on the way to its fifth consecutive NESCAC Championship and Little Three Championship. The 20-0 Cardinals beat 15 nationally ranked teams this season. The team won each of its matches by a 6 to 3 score line or better. Caitlyn Ferrante ’24 was named NESCAC Player of the Year, marking the third time a Cardinal has won the honor. Jackie Soloveychik ’27 was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year, a second in program history. Women’s Tennis is now set to compete in the NCAA Final against No. 3 University of Chicago on May 23. This will be the third time in program history that Wesleyan will play for a national title.

“The success that we’ve had as a team this year is largely attributable to every individual team member’s commitment to our culture of toughness, camaraderie, and support,” said Mike Fried, head coach of Wesleyan Women’s Tennis. “Their hard work, on and off the court, and their willingness — even excitement — to put the team first, had made this a really special year.”

Women’s Lacrosse

Led by 50-goal seasons from Laura Baine ’24 and Olivia Lai ’23, the No. 2 Women’s Lacrosse team enjoyed one of its best seasons in team history. The team won a program-record straight 10 games during the season and won the Little Three for the fourth straight year. Women’s Lacrosse won its first-ever NESCAC Semi-Final game, advancing to the NESCAC Finals before succumbing to Middlebury in the championship game. The Cardinals defeated four teams ranked in the top five nationally, with two wins over Tufts, a win away against Salisbury, and one at home versus William Smith. The team had five All-NESCAC selections, which is a single-season team record.

“Our 2024 team and season was a special one,” said Kim Williams, head coach of Wesleyan Women’s Lacrosse. “We had a really resilient and strong group who embraced every challenge we faced this season. Our mantra this year was Fearless Together and the team truly embraced that mindset every step of the way.”

Men’s Lacrosse
Cardinals advance to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in team history. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin Photography)

Men’s Lacrosse bounced back in a big way from a disappointing campaign in 2023 that saw the team miss the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. The Cardinals won 16 games in 2024, capturing the Little Three title for the first time since 2018 and winning the NESCAC Championship for the third time in team history—it also won in 2005 and 2017. During the regular season, Wesleyan defeated Tufts in Medford, becoming the first NESCAC team to beat the Jumbos in Medford since 2018. John Raba and his staff were named the NESCAC Coaching Staff of the Year.

“This spring, our lacrosse team’s triumph wasn’t solely about winning the NESCAC championship; it was also about the unity, resilience, and selflessness displayed by every player,” said John Raba, head coach of the Wesleyan Men’s Lacrosse team. “Together, we achieved some incredible goals, showcasing that when individuals unite as a team, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.”

Men’s Crew

Men’s Crew has been ranked No. 1 nationally for most of the season, as the Cardinals’ lead boat hasn’t lost a race in six regattas. Wesleyan’s top boat captured a Little Three title as well as the New England Championship for the fifth time in team history—with wins in 1967, 1987, 2004, 2019, and now 2024. For the first time ever, it won the NESCAC and National Invitational Rowing Championship (NIRC). The reigning national runners-up look to take home their first-ever Division III National Championship in June. Six rowers were named to the All-NESCAC team, a team record, and Head Coach Phil Carney was named NESCAC Coach of the Year for the second time—he also won in 2016.

“This year’s team has been a pleasure to work with,” Carney said. “We have a large and competitive squad, and each person on the roster has made valuable contributions to our success. We will take our first two crews to the IRA National Championship this month, and everyone in these boats has worked extremely hard over the past year. The chemistry in the crews has been the biggest intangible, and our varsity eight has relied on their trust and training to achieve some truly historical results. We hope to continue this success in NJ at the IRA on June 1.”

Women’s Crew

Women’s Crew won the Little Three title, defeating Williams, and have placed third at both the New England and National Invitational Championship. The Cardinals earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Division III Championship, making an appearance at NCAA’s for the 10th time in team history (eighth since 2014). The third-place finish for Wesleyan at NIRC is the best showing for the team at the regatta since 2000.

“This team has been really fun to work with and has taken nothing for granted this year,” said Pat Tynan, Wesleyan Women’s Crew head coach. “After a successful fall and very productive spring break training trip to Florida, the team hit the racing season firing on all cylinders. Regardless of who we are racing, we just focus on doing what it takes to make our boats go as fast as possible. Keeping our practice environment fun, energetic and making sure we’re seeing improvement has been key. Every athlete of the team has shown a real commitment to the process and to their teammates. That has led to strong results on race day.”

Mike Mavredakis contributed to this story.