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Crusader Athletics

VolleyballThe Crusaders have embarked on a most difficult schedule, which has Incarnate Word playing only three home matches. The schedule offers two unique features. In cooperation with St. Edward’s in Austin, Incarnate Word will play a total of seven matches in a form of round-robin play.

Then, twice during the season, the Crusaders will play in a Heartland Conference crossover weekend. This year for the first time, the Conference has seven competing schools. In order to provide a full regular season conference schedule, and to determine seedings for the post-season conference tournament, all teams will meet up for two weekends when the southern teams will compete against the northern teams. Those events are set for Dallas and Kansas City.

At the end of the spring season, both Crusader teams, men and women, were involved in post-season play in the NCAA Division II. The Crusader men finished second in the Heartland Conference but earned an invitation to the Central Regional Tournament where they emerged as champions. Along with the title came a trip to the national tournament where, unfortunately, they lost in the first round. The team was ranked 20th in the nation. John Newman was the Central Region’s coach of the year, and junior Devin Wilke was
a First-Team Verizon Academic All-District.

On the women’s side, the Crusaders were Heartland Conference champions and also advanced to the Central Regional Tournament. They finished the season ranked 31st in the nation, and Newman again was regional coach of the year.

Both the men’s and women’s teams have full schedules of meets spread over September and October in advance of the NCAA Division II South Central Regional meet set for the second weekend of November.

SoccerWhen the fall schedules began at the end of August, the Crusader soccer teams again were making national noise. The men made perhaps the biggest bang by being among the top three teams in the Midwest Region and achieving a national ranking as high as 11th during September.

The women also have flirted with high rankings in the early going. In the pre-season national poll, the Crusaders were ranked seventh but fell out of the elite teams after a pair of double overtime ties early. At the regional level, after being ranked first, UIW consistently has been in the top four all season.

After a quick start and an impressive won-lost mark in the early going, the Crusaders suffered a series of injuries and finished the year at 25-26. They did, however, win their way to second in the Heartland Conference and catcher Liz Beyer was named NFCA Third-Team All-American.

BaseballThe Crusaders were second in the Heartland Conference tournament and ended the year with a winning mark of 31-24. Will Carbonara, after earning his bachelor’s degree, played his final year of eligibility and became one of the most decorated student-athletes in UIW history.

The first baseman was a Second-Team Verizon Academic All-American with his 3.94 grade point average in accounting. On the field, he set a school mark with a .460 batting average and was named the NCAA Division II South Central Regional player of the year. And, after the year was over, he was one of only 29 Division II student-athletes in the nation to receive an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship.

The Crusaders hosted the Heartland Conference post-season tournament at San Antonio's Cedar Creek Golf Club. For the first time, all six Heartland schools participated in the men’s tournament. Incarnate Word finished fourth.

And for the first time, the Heartland conducted a women’s tournament and it, too, was played at Cedar Creek hosted by Incarnate Word. The Crusader women were third.

The Crusader men and women entered a full schedule of meets over the course of the spring. Among the highlights was freshman pole vaulter Francisco Leon who, literally, came within one inch of receiving an automatic qualification to the Division II national meet. He did set a new UIW record with his 4.66 meter (16-0 feet) vault in a meet hosted by Abilene Christian in early May.

The Crusader men, coming off a 25-4 season and a trip to the South Central Regional semi-finals, are the pre-season pick to win the Heartland Conference. Senior guard Jamar Love is the coaches’ pre-season pick as the Heartland Player of The Year. Returning four starters, the Crusaders concentrated on recruiting size and came away highly successful with the signing of 6-10 Fabio Teixeira and 6-8 Rafael Franco. The women, picked third in the Heartland Conference pre-season poll, also spent the recruiting season looking for an inside presence. The recruiting theme produced two 6-0 post players in Shamieka Buckley and Blair Redmon. Also in the pre-season coaches’ voting, sophomore guard Amy Mueller was named to the all-conference team after being the league’s outstanding newcomer a year ago.