OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — The on-field success during NYIT's inaugural season of women's lacrosse was matched by its performance in the classroom.
The Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association on Wednesday recognized NYIT as a Zag Sports Academic Honor Squad for achieving at least a 3.0 team GPA during the 2016-17 academic year.
Additionally, the IWLCA recognized three NYIT women's lacrosse student-athletes — Angelina Cuevas, Alyssa Milano and Trisha Serras — on its Division II Academic Honor Roll for achieving at least a 3.5 GPA.
On the field, the inaugural season of women's lacrosse at NYIT could not have been scripted much better. Buoyed by 14 former members of the defunct Dowling College program, the Bears came within one goal of earning the East Coast Conference regular-season title, peaked at No. 11 in the IWLCA national coaches poll, produced an 11-game winning streak and earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. The Bears completed the season with a 15-4 overall record.
The student-athletes' story of transferring en masse to NYIT also generated significant positive media coverage for the university, with profiles in the New York Times and Newsday, as well as on WABC, WCBS and News 12 Long Island.
In the first game in program history, the Bears won at Georgian Court, 12-7, on Feb. 25. Katie Meinecke scored the first goal in program history 99 seconds into the game. Milano had six goals, Karie Znaniecki tallied three goals and three assists and Meinecke had two goals and three assists in the program's historic win.
From there, the Bears dominated the East Coast Conference, winning their first seven league games. In their final regular-season game, the first-year squad lost a 12-11 overtime heartbreaker to LIU Post to come up just short of the ECC regular-season title. Just 13 days later, the Bears would lose to the same team, 12-5, in the NCAA Tournament.
The team was widely honored for its accomplishments. Erin Smith earned the ECC Defensive Player of the Year award, while eight of her teammates also received league honors. Smith will go on to run cross country in the fall for NYIT after using all four years of NCAA eligibility in women's lacrosse between Dowling and NYIT.
Joining Smith as first-team All-ECC were Meinecke, Milano, Znaniecki and Taylor Davide. Brooke Basso, Serras, Kelly McQuail and Lauren Young all earned second-team All-ECC honors.
Milano also earned CoSIDA Academic All-American first-team honors, while Smith and Znaniecki were named IWLCA second-team All-Americans and first-team All-Region.