Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sacred Heart doubling its pleasure

 A quick peek at the Ivy League standings will show the perennial contenders Harvard and Yale are currently tied for first with 2-0 Ivy records. However, the Crimson and Bulldogs are not the only teams with 2-0 marks against Ivy League competition.

Nationally-ranked Lehigh beat both Princeton and Yale, hardly a surprise. However, Sacred Heart's wins over Dartmouth and Columbia certainly opened some eyes.

"We are 2-0 in the Ivy, we are tied for first but that's not our goal," said Sacred Heart coach Paul Gorham with a laugh on Wednesday morning.

Sacred Heart was 0-2 when it hosted Dartmouth on homecoming weekend on Sep. 24. After almost knocking off the Big Green last year on the road, the Pioneers were hoping to finish the deal this year.

Freshman running back Keshaudas Spence ran for 129 yards and scored twice while Matt Linnehan blocked a potential game-tying 53-yard field goal as time expired to give the Pioneers a 24-21 victory.

"We knew we could play with those people so we had an opportunity to play them down here this year and we won it with a field goal," Gorham said. "We broke the ice, it was our first win of the season. We gained a lot of confidence from it. We know the tradition from those schools and where we are coming from, we are a 22-year-old program growing from (Division) III to II and to I-AA. It was big for us and to back that up two weeks later on the road against Columbia, a program that has had football for over 100 year. It has been a good shot in the arm for the kids and the program."
Using the momentum from the victory over Dartmouth, Sacred Heart snapped a seven-game losing streak to fellow Northeast Conference foe Central Connecticut. This past weekend, the Pioneers traveled to Columbia and came away with a 34-25 victory.

"The administration here is aware of it and very happy for it," Gorham said. "I know they when they started the program that they had any thoughts that they'd be playing Ivy League school, not only competing against them but having the opportunity to beat them. It has been a positive all the way around."

The Columbia game looked like a one-game deal but Gorham said the series with Dartmouth will be continuing.

"We play Dartmouth again next year, I think there is another two-year contract with them," Gorham said. "We are playing Colgate next year and we are looking to pick up others. The Ivy League schedules are so far out, I believe somebody dropped Columbia or Columbia dropped somebody which allowed us to pick them up. I was talking with (Dartmouth) Coach (Buddy) Teevens before the game with Dartmouth. He wants to continue to series. It is not that bad a trip, 2 1/2 hours, 2:45 and it is pretty evenly matched. It is good for both teams, I think."

Win or lose, Gorham likes the idea of playing Ivy League teams or any squad which will prepare his team for conference play.

"In the past we were playing programs, some no longer even have football and it was hard motivating kids for those games," Gorham said. "We didn't always get as much out of them as he had playing teams that are as well coached at Columbia and Dartmouth. It is much better for you when you get against our league which is very difficult, getting more difficult as the years go by. We think we can compete with the Ivy League and Patriot League. We'll compete with them, I won't say that we will always beat them. It might be a little bit long for us to get up against those CAA teams but that is what we want to do. It makes it an easier week of preparation as a coach knowing that you have a quality opponent."

As Gorham, a former assistant coach at Brown mentioned, Ivy League's non-conference schedules tend to be completed years in advance. A couple of days after Sacred Heart's win over Dartmouth, I asked Yale coach Tom Williams if Sacred Heart's name ever came up in non-conference scheduling talks. He said he had not heard of any chatter of attempting to get the Pioneers into one of the non-conference slots. Obviously, Sacred Heart have proven its willingness to play Ivy League competition so if a previously contracted non-conference game were to fall through, a Sacred Heart/Yale game could be an intriguing one.


Anonymous John Walsh said...

If Yale and the other Ivies would come into the 21st century, and play 11 games, a lot of these kind of games could be scheduled.

Yale could play SHU as well as CCSU and maybe play in some states where they have never played. It certainly couldn't hurt recruiting to have a nice road trip scheduled each year or two

6:02 PM 
Blogger Jim Fuller said...

Sorry, I just don't see them adding an 11th game. When it comes to Ivy League football, status quo tends to rule the day and don't envision that changing.

10:15 AM 

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