With Augustana (S.D.) claiming the DII baseball championship, another DII season is in the books. But this was a season like no other. There were plenty of firsts, highlight-reel moments and, of course, memorable student-athletes.
Let’s take a look back at some of the more unforgettable games from the year in DII championships.
DII football: West Florida and Texas A&M-Commerce end historic runs in Kansas City
It was who NCAA.com coined the Most Interesting Man in DII Football against a program with an interesting story all by itself. Texas A&M-Commerce rolled into Kansas City, Kansas led by the multi-talented and 4,000-plus yard quarterback Luis Perez while West Florida was amid an unthinkable journey. In the end, it was Perez and his 323-yard, two-touchdown day that helped lead the Lions to their first DII football title.
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But that’s just half the story. On the other side of the field was West Florida, who just making it there was a remarkable feat in its own right. It was just the Argonauts’ second season as a football program, and they made it all the way to Kansas City with a Super Region 2 title and upset of top-seeded Indiana (Pa). It was a battle of historic proportions and an instant classic not soon to be forgotten.
DII women’s basketball: Central Missouri stuns Ashland, ends historic run in Sioux Falls
Seventy-three wins in a row. It was a remarkable run for the Ashland Eagles, who not only set DII women’s basketball records along the way but topped some NCAA records as well, including breaking the mighty UConn women’s basketball mark for most points with an average of 100 through their first 35 games.
Apparently, no one told Central Missouri.
The Jennies picked up their second championship of the 2017-18 season in stunning fashion. Central Missouri held Ashland’s record-setting offense to just 52 points keeping the lead the entire way after the first quarter ended. UCM had the upset of the year in rumbling its way to its first women’s basketball title since 1984.
DII men’s basketball: Zack Hankins leads Ferris State to schools first national championship
Quick, who was the only program to appear in the football and basketball final eight this year? That’s right, the Bulldogs had quite the winter. But where they fell short in football, they followed through in basketball.
It was one of the most thrilling championships of the 2017-18 season, coming down to the final buzzer. A packed Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota watched “hometown” Northern State battle with Ferris State, with the Wolves’ Darin Peterka’s 3-pointer missing in the waning seconds, ending Northern State’s comeback run. Center Zach Hankins, who earned NABC DII Player of the Year honors, scored 19 points with five rebounds in his Ferris State finale, helping the Bulldogs edge out the Wolves 71-69.
DII men’s soccer: Charleston (WV) finally breaks through to earn title
Charleston has been one of the most dominant programs in DII soccer in recent history. The Golden Eagles made their fourth-straight trip to the national semifinals, which resulted in two national runner-up campaigns in 2014 and 2016. Until this year, Charleston had no trophy to show for its efforts.
Finally, the Golden Eagles finally took home the title, the first in program history.
It wasn’t easy, of course. Lynn and Charleston, who played in the 2014 championship game, went 110 scoreless minutes of soccer before Charleston took over in penalty kicks. When the dust settled, the Golden Eagles won 3-1 in penalty kicks and finally were able to call themselves national champions.
DII women’s soccer: Ana Dilkes nearly flawless 2018 earns Central Missouri its first title
Central Missouri was 26-0-0 in 2018, that 26th win earning the Jennies their first national title in DII women’s soccer. A large part of that perfect record was keeper Ana Dilkes.
Dilkes, who finished her illustrious career 89-5-3, recorded 64 shutouts in her tenure, a program, MIAA and DII record. She had 21 shutouts in 2017, a DII single-season record while starting the year with 12 consecutive shutouts, a conference record. Dilkes allowed just five goals all season, never more than one in any game.
That’s what Carson-Newman was able to do. The Eagles scored early on this Jennies’ top defense, but that’s all they could muster. After 110 minutes ended in a draw, Dilkes was simply too much on penalty kicks, where the Jennies were able to put the Eagles away.
DII softball: No. 8 seed Southern Indiana rumbles to first title
Looking at overall records, Southern Indiana was the least likely to contend for the DII softball championship. The Screaming Eagles had a 10-loss March before catching on fire, winning the GLVC and securing a postseason bid. A 9-1 run in the postseason found them back in Salem, Virginia for a second-straight year, and led us here at NCAA.com to call them our sleeper pick for the championship. Southern Indiana was the No. 8 seed, drawing the No. 1 North Georgia Nighthawks in Game 1.
Jennifer Leonhardt took the Screaming Eagles on her shoulders in Game 1 and never looked back. The sophomore two-way star set the pace for Southern Indiana throwing a one-hit shutout (and driving in the winning run for good measure) and following it up with the only no-hitter of the tournament. A thrilling, rain-interrupted, extra-inning walk-off propelled USI to the finals, where it swept Saint Anselm in dominating fashion for the program’s first championship.
DII baseball: Augustana (SD) sweeps its way to first championship
Only one team returned to the finals of the DII baseball championship in 2018, but there was plenty of history in Cary, North Carolina. Nine-time champion Florida Southern was the No 1 seed, Southern Indiana was looking for its third national title while Columbus State was looking for No. 2. Reigning national runners-up UC San Diego found their way back, but it was a first-timer that dominated the field.
Augustana played four games in the DII baseball championship and won each one. The No. 5-seeded Vikings provided excitement with its speed and pitching, taking advantage of costly mistakes and getting timely hits. Jacob Blank pitched a complete game, striking out 12 in the championship game against Columbus State, holding on for the 3-2 victory and the Vikings fourth-straight upset in Cary.
DII women’s lacrosse: Le Moyne hoists first trophy against Florida Southern
Florida Southern has become a DII women’s lacrosse finals staple. This was the Mocs third-straight trip to the finals, winning it all in 2016. It was quite the opposite for Le Moyne, making the program’s first championship game. It turned out pretty well, as the Dolphins walked away with the program’s first national championship, upending Florida Southern 16-11.
It was a pretty memorable run for the Dolphins right from the start. Both Florida Southern and Le Moyne earned No. 1 seeds in their respective parts of the brackets. Le Moyne’s first test was against eight-time national champion Adelphi, and the Dolphins responded by ekeing out a 14-11 victory. Le Moyne kept the charge rolling completely dismantling Regis (Co) 18-1 before facing off against the championship game veteran Mocs. Sidney Hall (four goals, two assists) and Bryanna Fazio (six goals, one assist) both had days to remember as the history of Dolphins Nation forever changed.
DII men’s lacrosse: Merrimack makes program history at Foxboro
Merrimack was one year removed from a championship game in Foxboro, Massachusetts that ended in heartbreak with a two-goal loss to Limestone. The Warriors returned to Foxboro in 2018 on a mission, and this time they delivered in dominant fashion, tying the all-time mark with 23 goals in the championship game.
On the other side was first-timers Saint Leo. The Lions upset No. 1-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne on its home turf in the semifinals, which set up a championship game with plenty of storylines. In the end, it was Merrimack who walked away with its first title in program history, winning the day 23-6.
DII women’s volleyball: Concordia-St. Paul dominates to ninth title in past 11 years
What’s that old saying? Life, death and the Golden Bears winning the women’s volleyball championship.
Head coach Brady Starky has created a dynasty in Concordia-St. Paul and the Golden Bears steamrolled their way through the field in Pensacola, Florida. Just how good were they that December weekend? The Golden Bears didn’t lose a single set on their three-game run. They finished off Florida Southern in the finals for their second-straight championship and ninth in eleven years.
One of the fun storylines at the championship was Florida Southern’s head coach Jill Stephens. It was the Mocs first trip to the quarterfinals since 1991. Stephens was a freshman on that team and was able to return all those years later at the helm.
Other memorable championships Columbus State wins first men’s tennis title; Barry sweeps its way to second consecutive women’s tennis title, St. Cloud State avenges 2017 loss to Notre Dame (OH) to take home third title in four years.