It wasn’t the ending that Fairleigh Dickinson wanted or envisioned, but was it really the end?
The top-seeded Knights lost back-to-back matches and found themselves eliminated from the 2013 NEC Tournament halfway into the first day of the two-day, double-elimination event.
The early exit also put FDU’s NCAA Championship fate in jeopardy, meaning the former two-time National Champion and nine-time Final Four participant could miss out on the national tournament for just the second time in program history.
Fortunately for Fairleigh Dickinson, the NCAA Committee gave Michael LoPresti’s Knights a chance at redemption.
“This selection is a new life,” exclaimed LoPresti.
“After our quick exit last weekend, we knew our chances were slim to get selected to nationals.”
Now that they snuck into the field, however, the Knights are focused on one goal.
“We have a resilient group of players and we know from experience that anyone in the field has a chance to bring home the big trophy,” said LoPresti.
The Knights last brought home that hardware in 2010 when they topped Nebraska, 4 to 3, in the best-of-seven baker national title tilt.
It was during that national championship run that a rookie named Danielle McEwan emerged as a rising star on the national scene. Occupying the anchor spot for a lineup that also included All-Americans Erica Perez, Tracy Ganjoin, Sara Litteral and Joely Carrillo, McEwan went onto to capture the 2010 NCAA Tournament MVP award.
Since that thrilling conclusion to what was fabulous freshman season, McEwan has continued to star. She has thrice won the NEC Bowler of the Year award while twice capturing first place at the Team USA Trials.
Last Saturday, she became the first-ever athlete to earn four consecutive selections to the All-NEC First Team.
The only thing that McEwan hasn’t accomplished since her rookie campaign is helping her team secure another second NCAA title.
Fairleigh Dickinson was denied at the doorstep last April, falling to Maryland-Eastern Shore, 4 to 2, in the NCAA Championship final.
“A year ago, we were in the championship match and now we are the last team getting in,” said LoPresti.
The Knights may have been the “last team in,” but they are also only one of three in the field to have won multiple NCAA crowns (UMES, Nebraska).
“Right now, this feels like the greatest feeling in the world,” McEwan said. “However, it’s not enough for me just to make it, especially in my senior year, so I want to really work hard in the next couple of weeks and go into nationals with a different mindset and hopefully come out with a better outcome.”
LoPresti certainly wouldn’t mind an outcome similar to the one in 2010.
“I’m especially excited for our seniors – Danielle McEwan, Brianna Carlo, and Jessi Wahler – who are now fortunate enough to advance to the championship tournament each of the four years they have been at FDU. These are special people and we hope they can lead us to another title and go out on top.”
There are only eight teams left standing in NCAA bowling, and Fairleigh Dickinson is one of them.
It didn’t come easy, but the Knights will get their chance after all.
The 2013 NCAA Bowling Championship will unfold from April 11-13 at Super Bowl Lanes in Canton, MI.
Click here to view 2013 NEC Bowling Championship Photos Gallery
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