The New Conference Rivals: UMass Boston

The New Conference Rivals: UMass Boston

University of Massachusetts, Boston

Founded: 1964
Enrollment: 17,030
Interim Chancellor: Katherine Newman
Vice Chancellor of Athletics: Charlie Titus
Nickname: Beacons
Colors: Beacon Blue, White, and Black
Location: Boston, Mass.
Distance from Castleton: 178 Miles

BOSTON, Mass. – Unlike some of the other Little East schools, Castleton fans should have some familiarity with the UMass Boston Beacons, as the two athletic departments are rivals in the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) for men's and women's ice hockey.

Last year, UMass Boston swept Castleton in men's ice hockey on its way to a fourth place finish in the NEHC regular season standings. In women's ice hockey, the Beacons also swept the Spartans, but the regular season meeting at Spartan Arena went to overtime before UMass Boston prevailed, 3-2, and the Beacons needed the entire game to shake the Spartans in the semifinals of the NEHC Tournament in Boston, 2-1.

Now, Castleton will be dealing with more strong UMass Boston teams, as the Beacons are coming off a competitive year department-wide, finishing second in the LEC Commissioner's Cup standings in 2017-18.

The Clark Athletic Center houses the gymnasium for basketball and volleyball as well as the Barry Ice Rink for ice hockey. Monan Park is an exact replica of Fenway Park with field turf and lights, while the UMass Boston Softball Field has also seen significant improvements over the past five years. UMass Boston uses facilities at neighboring Boston College High School for soccer, lacrosse, tennis, and outdoor track and field.

UMass Boston, one of the Little East's original six members, won the LEC tournaments to reach NCAA Tournament competition in volleyball, women's basketball, baseball, and softball. In addition, the Beacons tied for the best regular season league record in men's tennis and finished in the upper half of the LEC standings in three other sports.

In the fall, UMass Boston defeated Keene State twice in volleyball, first in the regular season and again in the league tournament final, to win the LEC title. The men's soccer team finished third at 4-2-1 in the LEC, 9-6-3 overall, while the women's soccer squad posted a 3-3-1 league mark as part of a 6-12-2 season, ending up fourth in the final standings.

At the LEC cross country championships, the Beacon men finished fifth and the women finished seventh. The women's tennis team posted a 3-5 league record (4-7 overall) to finish in sixth place.

The women's basketball team overcame two losses to UMass Dartmouth in the regular season, defeating the Corsairs on the road in the tournament final to win the league championship, eventually ending the season at 25-4 overall. The men's basketball team finished in third place with a 9-5 league mark as part of a 16-11 overall record.

At the indoor track and field championships, the women finished in third place, and the men ended up in fourth place. Those placements would switch at the outdoor championships, as the men finished third and the women placed fourth.

In a highly competitive conference for baseball, UMass Boston clinched the regular season title at 11-3 to host the conference tournament, which it won to advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Beacons would advance to the NCAA New England Regional final before losing to Oswego State, ending the year at 37-10.

The softball team barely qualified for the conference tournament, taking the sixth and final spot over Keene State thanks to a victory over first place Plymouth State. The Beacons then swept through the tournament, including two one-run victories over the host Panthers, to earn their second straight LEC Tournament championship.

The men's tennis team tied for the regular season title, but lost to Salem State in the league tournament championship to finish the season at 9-6 overall. In men's lacrosse, the Beacons finished in a tied for fifth place at 3-4 within the LEC, ending up at 8-9 overall.

The first Little East home contest for Castleton in any sport involves the Beacons, as the Spartans host UMass Boston in volleyball at Glenbrook Gym Friday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. The Castleton soccer teams will face UMass Boston Wednesday night, Sept. 26, with the women's soccer team hosting the Beacons and the men's soccer team making the trip to Boston.

PREVIOUS STORIES IN SUMMER SERIES
1) The Little East Conference
2) Eastern Connecticut State
3) Keene State