Brandeis Judges Athletics Year In Review 2015-16 With another year in the books, it's time to take a look back at some of the moments that made 2015-16 so memorable.

Coming off a berth in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, the Brandeis men's soccer team came into the season with another goal in mind - getting 43rd-year head coach Mike Coven his 500th career win. After going 4-1 in their first five matches to get him to 499, the Judges met long-time rivals Babson on Gordon Field. The teams were scoreless until the 108th minute, when senior Jake Picard headed home a free kick from junior Josh Ocel to produce the winning score.

The Brandeis women's soccer team cracked the top 10 of the Division III rankings by winning their first nine games in a row in dominating fashion. The Judges outscored opponents, 21-3, in the opening stretch. Junior Cidney Moscovitch provided three game-winning goals in that span. , including the only goal against Tufts in the ninth win in a row. The streak was halted with a scoreless draw against Wellesley and a UAA loss to Carnegie Mellon, but later in the season, they knocked off eventual NCAA Tournament finalist Washington U., one of two Bear losses in the regular season.

The Brandeis men's swimming and diving team dropped its opening meet of the season against Wheaton College, but sophomore Zach Diamond did his part. He led the way for the Judge men with three individual victories. He captured the 1000-yard freestyle (10:23.43) by more than 35 seconds. He also won the 200-yard butterfly (2:07.37) and the 500 free (5:09.63). Diamond also swam the second leg on the runner-up 200-yard freestyle relay with a 23.40 second split. For his efforts, Diamond became the first Judge honored by CollegeSwimming.Com as the National Division 3 Swimmer of the Week.

One of the best nights of the year is the Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame. This year's inductees include the 1957-58 Men's Basketball Team; contributor Israel "Ace" Weinstein; women's tennis player Brenda Schafer '77; and Nelson Figueroa '98, Brandeis's only Major League Baseball player.

When Brandeis cross country hosted the UAA Championships at Franklin Park for the first time in eight years, Emily Bryson had the first amazing performance of her rookie year. Bryson came from behind in the final 500 meters to edge Khia Kurtenbach of Chicago to become the first freshman to win the UAA title and Rookie of the Year honors. Bryson won the race by a mere 0.32 seconds to become Brandeis's fifth UAA Women's Cross Country champion.

In 2012, Sam Ocel scored a last-minute goal to provide the game-winning score in an NCAA tournament game. In 2015, his younger brother Josh performed the same feat, delivering a game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Thomas College. The Judges came from behind to defeat the Terriers, who scored a surprising goal in the 14th minute.

Ocel provided some dramatics the next night as well, delivering a free kick in overtime that classmate Evan Jastremski punched home to send Brandeis past RPI, 2-1, and into the Sweet 16 in the fourth year in a row.

Brandeis women's basketball coach Carol Simon entered the year two wins shy of 400 for her career. The Judges dismantled Mount Holyoke, 81-38, in their season opener, then claimed the Brandeis Tip-Off Tournament presented by the Park Lodge Hotel Group with a 70-54 win over Eastern Nazarene. Senior Niki Laskaris had 17 points in the title game, helping Simon become the 31st active coach in Division III women's basketball to reach the 400-win plateau.

Brandeis women's soccer finished the regular season with a 14-2-3 record, earning an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row. The Judges dispatched Western Connecticut State, 1-0, in the first round on a 25th minute goal by junior Lea McDaniel. The shutout was junior goalkeeper Alexis Grossman's record-setting 11th of the season. The next day against regional host Amherst, Grossman lifted Brandeis into the Sweet 16. After the Judges and Amherst played to a 1-1 tie after two OT periods, Grossman made two saves and saw a third shot go wide as Brandeis advanced on PKs to the Sweet 16.

After finishing 13th overall at the New England regional, Emily Bryson became the first Brandeis female rookie to qualify for the NCAA Championships in cross country. Bryson went to Wisconsin and finished the six-kilometer course in 21:44.50, her best time of the season for a 6K race by six seconds. Running back in the pack through the first kilometer, Bryson moved up nicely by the second, moving into 36th place. She was a strong 16:29 just under the five-kilometer mark and finished in a large pack about 32 seconds behind the leader. By placing 31st, Bryson became only the third Brandeis freshman – in any sport – since 2000 to win All-America honors.

The Brandeis men's basketball season peaked this year with a 69-66 win at Washington University. Sophomore Jordan Cooper, on his way to an appearance on the All-UAA team, had 23 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Judges led for nearly the entire second half. Cooper and junior Robinson Vilmont were nearly unstoppable, as they combined to score 30 of the Judges' 38 second-half points, with a Vilmont trifecta 1:31 into the second half giving Brandeis the lead for good.

Brandeis fencing wrapped up the Northeast Fencing Conference championship early this year, as the women went 6-0 at the first meet and 5-1 at the second to post an 11-1 mark and their first championship since 2010. Coupled with the men's 9-1 mark, Brandeis won its first combined NFC crown since 2009. The most dramatic win of the meet came from junior sabre fencer Nina Sayles, who came from 0-4 down against Boston College to win, 5-4, and score the Judges' clinching point in a 14-13 win over the previously undefeated Eagles.

One of the Judges' most successful stretches of basketball came on the road this season, as they defeated Case Western (64-53), Carnegie Mellon (72-66) and Rochester (69-65) on their home courts. The last two, CMU and UR, would go on to reach the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III tournament, respectively. Junior Maria Jackson was outstanding the stretch, averaging 16 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks per game, including a career-high 20 points in front of her hometown crowd at Rochester.

Here's some extra bonus footage of senior Heather Cain scoring the game-winning bucket in a huge come-from-behind win over Case at home, when the Judges erased a 23-point deficit for a 69-66 OT win.

For the first time since the early 1980's, Brandeis baseball had a new coach, as Derek Carlson '91 succeeded Pete Varney after 34 years at the helm. The Judges got off to a terrific start over February break in Florida, taking down St. Joseph's (Brooklyn) three straight games. The first two were dramatic 4-3 finishes, as Brandeis scored three times in the top of the ninth in game one and overcome an early deficit to win in 11 innings in game two. Brandeis rolled to an 8-2 win to complete the sweep for their first 3-0 start since 2008. Grad student Rob Trenk went 7-12 with five RBI - including three in game two - to pace the Judge hitters, while Sam Miller allowed just one hitter over the minimum in his start in game 3.

As BUSDT 2.0 entered its fourth year, the Judges continued their steady improvement. The women picked up four dual-meet wins during the season, and at the UAA Championships at Rochester, broke four school records, including all three freestyle relays. Rookie Kylie Herman and sophomore Amy Sheinhait were part of all three, joining with rookie Ariana Traub and sophomore Sherry Tu to take down the 200-yard mark set in 2009. Junior Joanna Murphy and sophomore Maya Saar combined with Herman and Sheinhait for the 800 record, which had stood since 2008, while the initial group also captured the 400 mark, also around since 2009. The men saw junior Edan Zitelny set a new mark in the 50-yard backstroke that had stood since 2002.

Brandeis softball played under a new coach, as Danielle DelPonte took the reins in 2016. She helped the Judges to a tie for second place in the University Athletic Association, going 6-4 in the league. The team swept Case Western Reserve, NYU and NCAA-bound Rochester - who the Judges defeated by a combined 23-7 score. Senior 3B Madison Sullivan got a tremendous season underway by hitting .438 with 12 RBI and tournament-leading six doubles. Classmate Danielle Novotny led all players with a .483 average and six stolen bases to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.

Sophomore Ryan Stender got off to a tremendous start for men's cross country, but missed championship season to injury. He rallied and came back strong during indoor track and field, winning the 3,000-meters at UAAs with an amazing kick. He then improved his lifetime best in the event by 10 seconds at a Tufts Last-Chance meet to earn his first-ever trip to the NCAA Championships. Emily Bryson made it back to nationals after her All-America cross country season as the 16th seed in the mile run. Both competitors finished in 12th place at the national championships at Grinnell College in Iowa, a shade out of All-America status.

While the Judges weren't fortunate to qualify any student-athletes, the Gosman Center was host to an amazing four days of fencing at the 2016 NCAA National College Fencing Championships. Columbia University took home the crown for the second year in a row, while Harvard's Adrienne Jarocki and Westwood, Mass., native Andrew Mackiewicz, of Penn State earned the sabre title in front of their hometown crowds.

Brandeis Tennis teams were ranked among the top 35 all season long, with the women peaking at No. 27and the men at No. 23. The most dramatic match of the season came when the men met coach Ben Lamanna's alma mater, Bates College. Ranked No. 32 at the time, the Judges fell behind the No. 22 Bobcats, 2-1, after doubles, but picked up a huge point at No. 3 from junior Brian Granoff and sophomore Eric Goldberg. Granoff won in straight sets at No. 2, as did rookie Tyler Ng at No. 4, but Bates won in two sets at No. 1, so the match was tied at 3-3. With three three-setters underway, Brandeis won two of them, as rookie Jackson Kogan clinched the victory in the final match of the day, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.

For only the third time since the installation of lights that has enabled Brandeis and Lasell to share time on Stein Diamond, the Judges played a night game when they faced Wentworth. Making the event even more special, the Judges carried an eight-game winning streak into the contest. Senior Ryan Healy - an All-UAA and All-New England utility player - made sure they made it nine in a row with a 7-4 win over the Leopards. Healy went 2-4 with three runs scored. He also came in from right field to record a strikeout with the bases loaded in the eighth and struck out two more in the ninth for his fifth save of the season, the third-highest season total in school history. Healy, along with UAA Rookie of the Year 2B Ben Bavly and All-Association CF Liam O'Connor helped the Judges end a five-year postseason drought, making the ECAC tournament and finishing with a 19-17-1 record, their best since 2011.

Though Emily Bryson concluded her stellar rookie season as the UAA Champion in the 5,000-meters, senior Evan Scott was the track and field team's top performer outdoors. Scott consistently jumped better than two meters (6 feet 7 inches) all season. He only lost to Division III New England opponents once all season, winning the New England Division III championship , as well as a runner-up finish at UAAs and eighth place at the New England All-Division championships behind only D1 jumpers. Making it more remarkable was the fact that this was Scott's first year jumping for the Judges.

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Adam Levin

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