Ephs stand fifth in Directors’ Cup rankings

As of Dec. 23, the College sits in fifth place overall amid Div. III schools in the running for the U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup, awarded annually to the best all-around athletic program in each of the three NCAA divisions. The College, which claimed its 12th consecutive Directors’ Cup with last year’s win, has tallied 236 points this season, 100 points fewer than leader Washington University. NESCAC rival Middlebury currently stands in third with 325 points.

This time last season, the College led second-place Calvin by nearly 20 points with a total of 367 points.

Outstanding fall results, such as women’s cross country’s fifth-place finish in the NCAAs, have bolstered the Ephs. Other disappointing performances, however, have left the College behind the pack at the end of the fall season. Women’s soccer, usually a powerhouse, put up a strong fight but fell just short in the NCAA Quarterfinals, while Babson ousted men’s soccer in the second round of NCAAs. Neither field hockey nor volleyball was able to advance to the postseason this year. Football is ineligible to earn the College any points toward the Cup because the men do not compete in NCAAs.

Interim Athletic Director Lisa Melendy, however, is still optimistic about the College’s prospects this season. “In 2006, we were in sixth place after the fall, so [our fifth-place standing] doesn’t mean we couldn’t still win,” she said. “Our final place finish will depend upon what happens the rest of the year … Winning the Directors’ Cup is really about qualifying teams for NCAA championship competition.”

Melendy was quick to note that while winning the Directors’ Cup has become a tradition, it is by no means an expectation. “Although winning the award is an honor, it is not at all crucial for us to win the Cup,” she said. “Winning is a byproduct of the hard work and dedication of our athletes and coaches working every day in practice and in competition to strive for excellence.”

Strong early performances from a number of winter sports teams bode well for a comeback over the next few months. Both men’s and women’s basketball hold impressive one-loss records at this point in the season. Men’s ice hockey is also off to a strong start, with an overall record of 9-3-1. Skiing, which has been a major contributor to past Directors’ Cup wins, has also started its carnival season off well, finishing fifth overall on Saturday.

“We have a lot of teams, and every year different teams have qualified and put us in a position to win the award. So, as has happened in the past, we may have enough teams from the winter and spring seasons combined for us to score enough points to move to the top,” Melendy said. “There are certainly scenarios where winning could be the outcome, but in sports there is no sure thing. Our teams will strive to improve and grow as teams, play the games and in the end we will see where we end up.”