Saint Mary's Gaels

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Saint Mary's Gaels
Logo
University Saint Mary's College of California
Conference West Coast Conference
NCAA Division I
Athletic director Mark Orr
Location Moraga, CA
Varsity teams 14
Football stadium Saint Mary's Stadium
Basketball arena McKeon Pavilion
Baseball stadium Louis Guisto Field
Mascot Gael Force One
Nickname Gaels
Fight song "On To Victory"
Colors
     Red       Blue
Website www.smcgaels.com

The Saint Mary's Gaels are the athletic teams that compete at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga, California.[1] The nickname applies to the college's intercollegiate NCAA Division I teams and to the school's club sports teams. Most varsity teams compete in the West Coast Conference.[2]

The Gaels name[edit]

From the Gaels website:

"The Gaels are an ethno-linguistic group which spread from Ireland to Scotland and the Isle of Man. Their language is of the Gaelic (Goidelic) family, a division of Insular Celtic languages. The word in English was adopted in 1810 from Scottish Gaelic Gaidheal (compare Irish Gaedhealg and Old Irish Goídeleg) to designate a Highlander (OED). Gael or Goídeleg was first used as a collective term to describe people from Ireland; it is thought to have come from Welsh Gwyddel (Old Welsh Goídel), originally "raider", now "Irish person". Many people who do not speak Gaelic consider themselves to be 'Gaels' in a broader sense because of their ancestry and heritage."

The nickname was given to the school's football team (now discontinued) in 1926 by Pat Frayne, a writer for the now defunct San Francisco Call-Bulletin.[3] The school's previous nickname was the Saints, although the baseball team was known as the Phoenix until the 1940s.

Teams[edit]

Saint Mary's College of California sponsors teams in seven men's and nine women's NCAA sanctioned sports:[4]

Men's basketball[edit]

The men's basketball team has become recognized nationally as one of the top mid-major programs in the country, appearing in five NCAA tournaments since 2005 and making appearances in both the Associated Press and ESPN Top 25 polls. The team received at-large bids to the NCAA tournament in 2005 and 2008 but lost in the first round. In 2008-2009, the team got off to a strong start and at one time had the longest active winning streak in the nation before an injury to star guard Patty Mills, who was their leading scorer at the time. Mills came back in time for the West Coast Conference Tournament, but after a loss to Gonzaga in the WCC tournament finals, the team was not selected for the NCAA tournament.

The Saint Mary's men's basketball team playing in McKeon Pavilion in 2009.

In March 2010, the Gaels received an automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Tournament, after defeating Gonzaga in the championship game of the WCC Tournament, the Gaels' second WCC tournament title since 1987.[5] They then won their first NCAA Tournament game since 1959, defeating the Richmond Spiders. On March 20, 2010, the Gaels, led by Omar Samhan's 32 points, defeated #2 seed Villanova 75-68 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, where they would fall to three seed and AP #19 Baylor to end their season 28–6.

The Gaels shared the regular season WCC title with Gonzaga in 2011, but lost to Gonzaga in the WCC tournament and were not invited to the NCAA Tournament. In 2012, Saint Mary's claimed both the regular season WCC title and the tournament title and received a seven seed in the NCAA Tournament but lost to #10 seed Purdue in the first round. The Gaels finished second in the WCC in the 2012-13 season and received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, defeating Middle Tennessee in a "First Four" matchup before losing in the second round to Memphis.

During the 2012-13 season, the NCAA sanctioned the men's basketball program for recruiting violations stemming primarily from a former assistant coach and his attempts to recruit players from France. Penalties included a reduction in scholarships, four years probation and a five-game suspension for head coach Randy Bennett.[6]

Women's Basketball[edit]

See

Football[edit]

Club sports[edit]

SMC also sponsors more than a dozen club sports.[7]

Men's rugby[edit]

The men's rugby team, the oldest athletic club at the school, plays college rugby in Division 1-A in the California conference. The team has enjoyed a rise in the past few years, revitalized with a new coaching staff and increasing alumni support. The Gaels finished the season ranked among the top ten college rugby teams in the country for three consecutive years. Head coach Tim O'Brien was named coach of the year by American Rugby News following the 2006-07 season.[8]

The Gaels had a strong season in 2007-08, reaching the semifinals of the USA Rugby National Championship losing to Cal 41-31,[9] and finished the 2007-08 season ranked #2 in the nation for Division 1.[10] The Gaels were led that season by Kevin Swiryn, who went on enjoy a rugby career with the U.S. national team.[11] The Gaels finished the 2010-11 season ranked fifth in the nation. The 2011-12 season saw St. Mary's achieve a perfect record en route to winning the Pacific Coast Conference championship, a non-conference 20-18 victory over defending national champion Cal,[12] and defeating Utah 24-15 in the national quarterfinals to advance to the national semifinals before losing to Arkansas State. The Gaels were successful in the 2012-13 season, again posting an undefeated conference record to win the California Conference.[13] In the 2013 spring playoffs, St. Mary's defeated Colorado in the quarterfinals and Cal Poly in the semifinals, before losing 16-14 in the national championship match to Life University.

The Gaels have also been successful in rugby sevens. The Gaels reached the quarterfinals of the 2011 USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships. St. Mary's won the 2012 West Coast 7s tournament, with a semifinal 17-12 win over favored Cal, and a win in the final over Cal Poly 35-19.[14] The Gaels finished third at the 2012 California 7s.[15] The Gaels participated at the 2012 USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships, defeating Texas A&M and Navy to reach the semifinals. The Gaels also participated at the 2013 USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships, finishing second.

See also[edit]

References[edit]