It was another memorable year for Central Connecticut State University Athletics in 2018-19. It began with the women's soccer team posting a 16-2-2 overall record and making another trip to the NCAA Tournament. It ended as the baseball team posted its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory after winning its sixth Northeast Conference title.
In between CCSU saw its student-athletes win 85 All-Conference awards, eight NEC major individual awards, four NEC titles and 145 student-athletes earned NEC Academic Honor Roll honors. The four NEC titles, the most in the league, give the Blue Devils eight in the last two years, also a league-high.
"CCSU's student-athletes and coaches deserve a tremendous amount of credit for what they have accomplished this past year," said Director of Athletics Brian Barrio. "We talk about success in the classroom, in our community, and on the playing fields. This year, 39 Blue Devils earned their college degrees, we spent 4,500 hours making a positive impact in the community, and we brought four Northeast Conference Championships home to New Britain. By any measure, a year that should make everyone at CCSU proud."
The women's soccer team's 16-2-2 record marked the fourth-best win-loss record in the entire country, as the Blue Devils won the NEC title for the ninth time in program history. They went on to face Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament. The title was one of two in the fall for the Blue Devils as the women's cross country team won its first league title since 1999. Led by sophomore Angie Rafter (first overall), the Blue Devils began the year with a title, and they'd finish the year with one as well.
In the spring, the women's outdoor track and field team claimed its first-ever NEC title in dramatic fashion. Running on their home track, the Blue Devils used an inspiring performance from senior Sierra Nesmith and topped defending champion Sacred Heart by a half point. Nesmith's finish in the final race of the day secured the title, and senior Dawn Hubbell was named the Most Outstanding Performer (distance) as she earned a pair of victories on the weekend.
The year ended with a memorable run by the baseball team on their trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas. Central entered the NEC Tournament as the second seed and after dropping to the loser's bracket with a second day loss, they won three straight games to win their sixth title under head coach Charlie Hickey. The Blue Devils advanced to the NCAA Tournament and after dropping the first game of the regional to Arkansas, they posted a 7-4 victory over #24 California for the school's first-ever baseball victory in the NCAA Tournament. It also marked the school's first NCAA win in any sport since 2013 (softball).
CCSU's success on the field carried over to the classroom. In addition to 145 student-athletes achieving at least a 3.20 GPA to earn NEC Academic Honor Roll status, three Blue Devils were named NEC Scholar-Athletes for their respective sports. Charlotte Maurer (women's soccer), Madelyn Kaprelyan (volleyball) and Rafter (women's cross country) were recognized for their excellence in athletics and academics. Maurer earned a slew of accolades for her play on the field in addition to earning Scholar All-America honors. Kaprelyan was the second straight Blue Devil to earn the volleyball Scholar-Athlete Award and became the first in program history to be named the NEC Player of the Year. Rafter, who helped the cross country and outdoor track and field programs win championships, won the league's individual cross country title and also ran at the NCAA Regional Championships.
Central athletes were recognized for their individual successes during the season, highlighted by a pair of football standouts. Jacob Dolegala capped a record-breaking career with the Blue Devils and after being named All-NEC First Team as a senior he signed as a free agent for the Cincinnati Bengals following the NFL Draft. During the season, Aaron Dawson ran for 361 yards against Wagner on October 2, which is the sixth-highest single game total in NCAA history. His 308 yards in the second half set a NCAA Division I mark for yardage in a half. Dawson's effort was recognized with numerous Player of the Week awards on conference, regional and national levels.
The Blue Devils' student-athletes and programs also made time to spend 4,500 hours in the neighboring community through numerous programs. CCSU student-athletes took part in events including the Ana Grace Project's "Finish the Race", a school supplies drive for Smalley School, Team IMPACT recruits joining Blue Devils teams, and Hoops for Homeless, among many more.
CCSU's Success by the Numbers:
4 NEC Tournament Championships—MOST in the NEC
20 championships since 2014-15—MOST in the NEC
10 out of 16 teams finished in top 4 in the NEC standings
10 individual NEC Championship Titles
85 Student-Athletes Named All-NEC
8 NEC Player of the Year Awards (Player, Rookie, Outstanding Performer, etc.)
2 NEC Rookie of the Year Awards
3 NEC Coach of the Year Awards
3 Northeast Conference Team Sportsmanship Awards
3 Northeast Conference Scholar-Athletes
2 Named to All-America or Academic All-America Teams
145 NEC Academic Honor Roll (3.2+ GPA)
2 Regional Player of the Year Awards
2 Regional Coach of the Year Awards