Friday, April 23, 2010

Long Road to NCAA Women's Bowling Title Worth it For Fairleigh Dickinson

By: Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star-Ledger By Mike Moretti/For The Star-Ledger

Fairleigh Dickinson University took the long road to its second NCAA women’s bowling championship, finally overcoming No. 1 Nebraska in the seventh and deciding game of the championship match on Saturday night at the Brunswick Zone Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick.

FDU won, 209-174, to clinch the NCAA title, which it last won in 2006.

Nebraska had earned the top seed after Thursday’s qualifying rounds, while FDU had to battle back from its No. 5 seeding with a strong showing Friday that sent it into Saturday’s championship match.

FDU (90-41), ranked No. 3 nationally coming in, was on the brink of elimination before winning the sixth game, 230-190, to tie the match.

For senior anchor Erica Perez, who led Carteret High to state championships at the same bowling alley, it was a memorable way to end her career. She fired two strikes in the pivotal sixth game, as did freshman Danielle McEwan from Stony Point, NY. Perez was named to the all-tournament team and McEwan, who averaged 204, was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Bowler.

“It’s a dream come true to do it here before my family and friends. It’s everything I could have ever hoped for and more,” said Perez, whose open in the 10th frame likely cost the team an early 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven.

“When we were down, 3-2, we just focused on our shots. After I missed in the second game, I wasn’t worried because I knew my teammates would pick me up. We just had to come back with strong strikes. I guess I wanted to make things interesting.”

In the decisive Game 7, it was Tracy Ganjoin of Brick who got two strikes, as did former Paramus Catholic star Joely Carrillo. FDU benefited from an open in the fifth frame by Nebraska’s anchor, Cassandra Leuthold, the NCAA Bowler of the Year. That gave FDU a 21-pin advantage (129-108) and it never trailed again.

FDU won the first game, 209-167, then lost Game 2, 222-202. Nebraska won Game 3, 213-203, before FDU tied it at 2-2 in Game 4, 229-192. In Game 5, Nebraska went ahead, 3-2, by a margin of 222-201.

“I’ve been to every NCAA final and this was the best one ever,” said FDU coach Mike LoPresti, who founded the program eight years ago. “It was so well played and the momentum swung back and forth. Breaks played into it, but that’s the name of the game. You have to remember there’s no more women’s pro tour. So unless you’re a Carolyn Dorin-Ballard or Kelly Kulick, who can compete against the men, it’s the end of the line for the seniors. They were up to the pressure.”

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