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Minium: Two Conference Championships in One Day Was Very Sweet for ODU


NORFOLK, Va. – Old Dominion and its predecessor, the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary and Virginia Polytechnic Institute, have fielded varsity athletic teams since 1930.
In the 93 seasons since, the University had never won two championships in one day. But that happened on Sunday in what was a remarkable and memorable day for both ODU women's and men's athletes.
The ODU field hockey team began the day by upsetting No. 6 Liberty, 3-1, in the Big East championship game in Philadelphia. The victory ended their decade-long absence from the NCAA Tournament and was a satisfying result for a program that has been snubbed by the NCAA Tournament committee several times in recent years.
The ODU women's soccer team followed by beating James Madison, 2-1, in double overtime to win the Sun Belt Conference title.
It was the third conference title in a row for head coach Angie Hind, who won the school's first Sun Belt title last season and its last Conference USA title in 2021. For ODU's seniors, it means they will depart ODU with three championship rings.
Dr. Wood Selig, ODU's director of athletics, ranked the day as one of his top two or three in his 14 years at ODU.
"It's one of the handful of proudest moments that I've experienced here," he said. "Winning two championships in just a few hours. That was a signature day for us."
The women's soccer team had an unlikely hero in freshman Sydney Somers, who started just her fifth game of the season.
The 5-foot-7 defender, who attended Columbine High in Highland Ranch, Colorado, dribbled around a JMU defender to the front of the penalty arc and drilled a shot in the top left portion of the net.
She could not have placed the ball any better. JMU goalie Alexandra Blom, who is tall and athletic and one of the best in the game, had no chance to stop it.
Senior defender and captain Ece Turkoglu sent the game into overtime by scoring the game-tying goal. She was named the tournament MVP. She was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Andrea Balcazar Algarin, Anessa Arndt and Malia Mariano.
ODU's field hockey team is headed to College Park, Maryland to take on No. 4 seed Maryland on Friday. Then, on Saturday, 45 minutes or so south of College Park, the Monarch soccer team takes on Georgetown on the Hoyas' home field.
The NCAA bid ended years of frustration for head coach Andrew Griffiths' field hockey team, which should have received postseason bids several times in recent years.
Last season the Monarchs were 15-3, their best record in a decade, and won 10 games in a row before falling to Liberty in the Big East championship game. Yet the players and coaches watched in frustration as eight at-large bids were parceled out to Power Five programs.
In 2021, the Monarchs swept a home-and-home series with Virginia and watched as the Cavaliers got an at-large bid. ODU was the last team that did not make the tournament.
In 2019, 10 of their 17 games came against ranked teams and the Monarchs beat nationally ranked Liberty twice and won at Penn State. And yet ODU was the last team left out of the NCAA Tournament.
Griffiths has been the consummate gentleman after each snub. He acknowledged the unfairness of the selection process without being acrimonious. He was honest with his players last season after the selection show. "There is nothing I can say that will make you feel any better," he said.
I spoke with Griffiths just before the Monarchs left for the Big East Tournament and he reiterated something he told me just before the season began.
"This team is really special," he said. "Our players are really close. They play together like no team I've ever coached.
"I have a good feeling about this weekend."
Nicole Fredricks was named the Big East Tournament MVP. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Marlon de Bruijne, Frederique Zandbergen and Sacha de Gier.
While the field hockey team was still on the field at Temple University, word came that the women's soccer team had also won a championship. Selig said that the field hockey team began celebrating again for its classmates 1,115 miles to the South in Foley, Alabama.
"It's great that our teams all support each other like that," Selig said. "The players and coaches, they all know each other. They care about each other and root for each other."
Hind and associate head coaches Michelle Barr and Sam Kirschenbaum are close with Griffiths, associate head coach Natalie Holder and assistant coach Peter Taylor.
An aside here: Taylor played professionally in the Netherlands for more than a decade, so it is no coincidence that so many of ODU's best players hail from Holland. Marlon de Bruijne, Frederique Zandbergen and Sacha de Gier are all from the Netherlands.
It was also a good day for some ODU men as well.
Former ODU star quarterback Taylor Heinicke made his first start of the season for the Atlanta Falcons and completed 21 of 38 passes for 260 yards in a 31-28 loss to Minnesota. Last week he came off the bench to lead the Falcons to 20 points in the second half, more than they had scored in the previous four games.
He wasn't perfect – some of his throws were behind receivers – but many in the Atlanta media speculate that he is now Atlanta's starter.
ODU men's tennis players Codie van Schalkwyk and Connor van Schalkwyk (they are brothers) lost to a doubles team from Michigan State in the Fall ITA national championship in San Diego.
Yes, they lost, but just getting to a national championship event in any sport is a major accomplishment.
Selig is no stranger to winning a couple of championships in one day. During his tenure at Western Kentucky, the Sun Belt held its men's and women's basketball championships on the same day. WKU won both and lost both during his tenure.
"What an awesome accomplishment by our coaches and student-athletes," he said. "Athletics is full of good days and difficult days."
And Sunday was a very good day.
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