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Sacred Heart clinches first winning season since 2003-04

Sacred Heart beat Long Island University on Saturday to clinch their first winning season since 2003-04. (Photo courtesy Sacred Heart University)

FAIRFIELD, February 23, 2020 – The Sacred Heart University wrestling team won one of three matches this weekend and clinched their first winning season in 16 seasons with a 36-3 win over Long Island University on Saturday in Brookville, N.Y.

Later Saturday, the Pioneers dropped a 38-3 decision to Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y., before returning to Fairfield on Sunday and losing a tight 18-15 decision to Brown University. Sacred Heart finished the dual meet portion of the season with an 8-6 record and 3-5 in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA). It’s the first winning season since the 2003-04 season when the Pioneers finished 9-7.

Sacred Heart won four of the first five matches against Brown to take a nine-point lead, 12-3. But the visiting Bruins won four of the final five matches and had three major decisions to rally for the victory.

“Just like (Saturday in a win over Harvard), we needed all 10 guys to win tonight,” Brown coach Todd Beckerman said. “We can take this momentum with us when we head to the EIWAs in two weeks.”

Sacred Heart’s Brandon Levesque (165), Joe Accousti of Newtown (174) and Kyle Davis, who is ranked No. 32 in the country at 184 pounds, each won to give the Pioneers and early 9-0 lead. Accousti used a pair of first period takedowns to take an early 4-0 lead and eventually won, 7-2.

Brown (4-9, 4-8 EIWA) got on the board with the 17th win of the season from Nino Bastianelli (197) but Sacred Heart’s Connor Fredericks (285) put the Pioneers up by nine, 12-3, with a 3-0 decision.

Brown got major decisions from Trey Keeley (125), Charlie Faber (133) to cut the Sacred Heart lead to one, 12-11. Gerard Daly (141) beat Brown’s Hunter Kosco 5-1 to extend the Pioneer lead to four, 15-11.

Brown’s Ricky Cabanillas (149) got a two-point reversal with 30 seconds left in the third period to beat Sacred Heart’s Nick Palumbo, 3-1 and cut the Pioneer lead to one, 15-14. Cabanillas won his team-leading 22nd match of the season.

Brown’s Jack Bokina (157) won the match for the Bruins with a 13-0 win over Will Schmidt.

Palumbo (149) was the only Sacred Heart wrestler to get an individual win against Hofstra (11-5, 7-0 EIWA) with a 6-2 win over Reece Heller.

But the Pioneers had some tough matches with Hofstra. Levesque (165) dropped a 6-5 decision to Hofstra’s Ricky Stamm while Accousti dropped a 3-2 decision to Sage Heller (174). Davis (184) lost to Hofstra’s Charles Small, 9-5 in double OT while Daly lost by just two to Vinny Veespa at 141 pounds.

Hofstra is 12-0 all time against the Pioneers and finished their season with an eight-match winning streak. It was the first time that the Pride have gone undefeated in the EIWA since they joined the league in 2013-14.

Sacred Heart earned their eighth win of the season with a dominating win over Long Island University (2-21, 0-9 EIWA). Raf Lievano (141), Palumbo (149), William Schmidt (157) and Levesque (165) each picked up victories as the Pioneers ran out to a 30-0 lead. Palumbo had a pin and Levesque won by technical fall. Davis won at 182 with a takedown in overtime.

Sacred Heart finished the EIWA campaign with a 3-5 record – their best record against conference competition since they joined the league in 2011-12. In the previous eight seasons, Sacred Heart had won just one EIWA dual meet.

The Hearts will return to action on March 6-7 when they travel to compete in the 116th annual EIWA championship meet at Lehigh.

Brown 18, Sacred Heart 15
At Fairfield
165: Brandon Levesque (SH) dec Matt Lattanze, 5-1
174: Joe Accousti (SH) dec. Cade Wilson, 7-2
184: Kyle Davis (SH) dec. Aaron Wolk, 6-3
197: Nino Bastianelli (B) dec. Rob Hetherman, 7-2
285: Connor Fredericks (SH) dec. Thomas Mukai, 3-0
125: Trey Keeley (B) dec. Sean Faraon, 11-0
133: Charlie Faber (B) dec. Kyle Randall, 15-4
141: Gerard Daly (SH) dec. Hunter Kosco, 5-1
149: Ricky Cabanillas (B) dec. Nick Palumbo, 3-1
157: Jack Bokina (B) dec. Will Schmidt. 13-0
Records: Sacred Heart 8-6, 3-5 EIWA; Brown 4-9, 4-8 EIWA

Hofstra 38, Sacred Heart 3
At Hempstead, New York

141: Vinny Vespa (H) dec. Gerard Daly (SH), 8-6
149: Nick Palumbo (SH) dec. Reece Heller (H), 6-2
157: Holden Heller (H) pin Shaun William (SH), 2:02
165: Ricky Stamm (H) dec. Brandon Levesque (SH), 6-5
174: Sage Heller (H) dec. Joe Accousti (SH), 3-2
184: Charles Small (H) dec. Kyle Davis (SH), 7-5, OT
197: Trey Rogers (H) dec. Nick Fierro (SH), 22-11
285: Zachary Knighton-Ward (H) dec. Dante DelBonis (SH), 11-3
125: Dylan Ryder (H) pin Sean Faraon (SH), 2:38
133: Justin Hoyle wins by forfeit
Records: Hofstra 11-5, 7-0 EIWA; Sacred Heart 8-5, 3-4 EIWA

Sacred Heart 36, Long Island University 6
At Brookville, N.Y.

125: Sean Faraon (SH) forfeit
133: Kyle Randall (SH) forfeit
141: Raf Lievano (SH) dec. Jacob Zuller 11-3
149: Nick Palumbo (SH) pin Rhise Royster, 4:01
157: William Schmidt (SH) dec. Dominick Demarco, 4-2
165: Brandon Levesque (SH) tech fall Mike Parrish, 16-0, 3:36
174: Joe Accousti (SH) dec. James Langan, 3-2
184: Kyle Davis (SH) dec. Dan McClure, 3-1 OT
197: Mark Malico (LIU) dec. Nick Fierro, 7-3
285: Maguire Horl (LIU) dec. Dante Del Bonis, 4-2
Records: Sacred Heart 8-4, 3-3 EIWA; Long Island University 2-21, 0-9 EIWA

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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