Bowlers End Season With ECC Championship Opportunity

Left-handed bowler at release point shot from front.
Kaitlyn Buck is the only senior Felician loses to graduation. (Steven R. Smith)

READING, Pa. – The Felician University women's bowling team was eliminated from the 2019 East Coast Conference (ECC) Championship tournament after losing its first two Baker best-of-seven playoff matches on Saturday at Hiester Lanes. The 13-school tournament was contested from Friday through Sunday and hosted by Kutztown University.

Felician finished in a four-way tie for ninth place in the event. The Golden Falcons also tied for ninth in last year's tournament. Felician is an associate member of the ECC only for the sport of women's bowling.

The teams competed in two pools, one of seven teams and one of six, in five five-game Baker qualifying matches on Friday. The teams' won-lost records in that round were irrelevant to the seeding process, but the Golden Falcons went 3-1 plus a bye, including a victory over host and No. 25 nationally-ranked Kutztown.

The top nine teams, based on total pinfall, advanced automatically to Saturday's double-elimination bracket. Felician, however, finished 10th with a total of 4,392 for a per-game average of 175.7. The Golden Falcons were forced to remain on Saturday afternoon and compete in a Baker best-of-7 playdown match. With sophomore Jenn Ingulli (Oakhurst, N.J./Ocean Township) in the setup role and all-conference junior Nicole Aumack (Brick, N.J./Brick Township) anchoring, the Golden Falcons earned a 4-0 win and a spot in Saturday's main draw.

As the No. 10 seed, Felician's Saturday began with its second meeting of the weekend with No. 7 seed LIU Post, this time in playoff format. The Golden Falcons won the first two games, but the Pioneers captured the next four to send Felician into the elimination bracket. There, a second date with Kutztown awaited. Felician took a 2-1 lead, but the match turned on the Golden Bears' 212-209 win in Game 4. Kutztown went on to a 4-2 victory, putting an end to the Golden Falcons' campaign

"We stayed together as a team, supported one another, and bowled above our team average," said Felician head coach Taylor Strothmann. "We fought hard but just got out-bowled by two good teams. We will continue to improve and do the things we need to do to be better next season."

Felician completed the fifth season in program history, and its first guided by Strothmann, with a dual-match won-lost record of 47-61.

"For a young team with a first-year coach, I'm proud of what we've accomplished this year," Strothmann said. "I'm confident that we will continue to be successful."

The Golden Falcons graduate only one senior, Kaitlyn Buck (Farmingdale, N.J./Howell), who owns the distinction of being the program's first left-handed player.

"Every coach deserves a Kaitlyn Buck," Strothmann said. "She's a great teammate who can talk anyone down from their nervousness, and when you ask her to make a change, she'll give it a chance."

"It's been great to see something I've put so much work into come to an end on such a high note," Buck said. "Looking back, I know I put in every bit of energy I had, and the ups and downs are were all worth it. It's strange being the only one to leave, and I'm terrified for real life, but I'm excited."

Caldwell University captured the 2019 ECC Championship, defeating last year's winner, No. 14 nationally-ranked Lincoln Memorial University, in Sunday's title match.