Celebrating the Top Moments in St. Francis College Sports History

St. Francis College’s athletic history includes many defining moments, including an upset victory over St. John’s University during the 1955-1956 season. (Photo: Courtesy of St. Francis College)

Back in March, St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, announced that it would end intercollegiate athletic competition. See this timeline of notable sports moments in the college’s history:

1896: Men’s basketball program founded, making it the first college to have basketball.

1933: Rocky the Terrier was officially adopted as the school mascot.

1947: Levi Bough became the first black basketball player in program history.

1949: Dan Lynch named men’s basketball head coach. In his first year, St. Francis won the National Catholic Tournament and also played in the first nationally televised college basket- ball game on WPIX. Lynch’s teams were nationally ranked in 1949, 1953, and 1956 while earning two bids to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

1952: School began a men’s water polo program formed by Charlie Schaem, who went on to win six conference championships. That same year, coach Tom Booras founded the swim team.

1966/1968: The St. Francis baseball team won the Metropolitan Conference and Knickerbocker Conference both years, with the teams being ranked nationally in the top 20.

1966: Gil Radday (44 points) and Alan Fisher (42 points) combined to set the single-game two-player scoring record of 86 points vs. Siena College.

1968: Men’s soccer program started by coach Carlo Tramontozzi, who led the Terriers to six NCAA Tournament appearances.

1970: On Jan. 10, basketball standout John Conforti set the single-game scoring record tallying 45 points against Wagner College.

1971: Through the efforts of Athletic Director Dan Lynch and Athletic Moderator Brother Roger Nagle, St. Francis opened its new gymnasium.

1973: Women’s intercollegiate athletics began at the school.

1975: Men’s soccer star Phil LaSpisa was named to the U.S. team for the Pan American Games. A year later, he was named to the U.S. Olympic team.

1981: St. Francis joins the NCAA Division I Northeast Conference.

1987: No. 22 jersey retirement of Dennis McDermott. When he finished his career in 1974, he was the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,578 points. He was drafted by the New York Knicks, and he later served for many years as the school’s alumni director.

1990s: Men’s basketball players Richard Lugo and Herbie Reyes played for the Venezuelan National Team.

1992-1993: The Terrier baseball team won consecutive Northeast Conference championships, earning a bid to the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships in both seasons.

1995-1998: Under head coach Sam Carrington, the men’s soc er team won three Northeast Conference tournament championships and two regular-season championships in a four-year period.

2001: The men’s basketball team won its first of three regular-season Northeast Conference titles and advanced to its first of three NEC Championship games (also accomplished both feats in 2003 and 2015).

2003: On Feb. 22, in what is considered one of the greatest games in New York City college basketball history, St. Francis defeated Long Island University, Brooklyn, 142-140, in double overtime in this “Battle of Brooklyn” rivalry game. Cliff Strong, a product of Bishop Loughlin H.S., Fort Greene, was named game MVP with 29 points in what remains the highest-scoring contest in Northeast Conference history.

2004-2008: Under head coach Carl Quigley, the men’s water polo team won the Eastern College Athletic Conference and the Collegiate Water Polo Association Northern Division championships each year.

2004: On Nov. 23 — the night St. John’s University, Jamaica, renamed Alumni Hall after the great Lou Carnesecca — the Terriers marched into Queens with a 53-52 victory to spoil the Johnnies’ celebration.

2005: Former softball pitching coach Dawn Gugliaro became the bowling coach — the only one in the program’s history from 2006-2023.

2007: Irma Garcia was named athletic director, making her the country’s only female Latina athletic director in Division I sports.

2013-2021: The men’s soccer team won five Northeast Conference Tournament championships to earn five NCAA Tournament bids under head coach Tom Giovatto.

2013: The Terriers men’s basketball team opened the season on the road at the University of Miami on Nov. 8 with an impressive 66-62 overtime victory on the night the Hurricanes

raised their Atlantic Coast Conference championship banner from the year before. This was considered a revenge game from when Miami — led by future Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Rick Barry — led the Hurricanes to a two-point win over St. Francis in the 1963 NIT.

2015: The women’s basketball team won the Northeast Conference Tournament championship under head coach John Thurston to earn the program’s first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament.

2015: The men’s basketball team, led by head coach and Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope, graduate Glenn Braica, won the conference regular season championship. Braica finished his St. Francis tenure third on the all-time wins list behind Dan Lynch (282) and Ron Ganulin (187). The Terriers appeared in the NIT, marking the school’s first postseason berth since the 1963 NIT. During that season, Jalen Cannon — who was named North- east Conference Player of the Year — set the all-time Terriers scoring record at 1,720 points. Brent Jones also became the program’s all-time assists leader with 616.

2016: After three consecutive top-four finishes, the women’s basketball team won the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association National Academic Championship.

2018: No. 15 jersey retirement of Jeanne Zatorski, the first female number to be retired in school history. When she graduated in 1979, Zatorski was the highest scoring St. Francis basketball player for both the men’s and women’s teams with 1,704 points.

2018: The men’s golf team won the Golf Coaches Association of America’s 18Birdies Division I National Academic Championship.

2019: No. 40 jersey retirement of Karen Erving Schiera, a 1991 St. Francis graduate who is the all-time leading scorer among men’s or women’s basketball players at the school with 1,929 points while also holding the women’s basketball record for career rebounds at 1,049.

2020: No. 19 jersey retirement of Al Inniss, the school’s all- time leading rebounder with 1,667 career boards. On March 17, 1956, Inniss pulled down 37 rebounds in the first round of the NIT against Lafayette College at Madison Square Garden. The number stands as a single-game record for St. Francis and the Garden.

2021: The men’s soccer team set the record for most Northeast Conference Tournament championships (nine) after defeating LIU Brooklyn in penalties. The same year, the women’s basketball team secured its first win over a “power five” pro- gram with a home win over Big 10 member Michigan State University, 66-63.

2022: No. 4 jersey retirement of Dan Lynch. In addition to his numerous coaching accolades, Lynch was also a standout player, having been the Terriers high scorer and MVP each of his four seasons from 1935-1938.

2022: On Nov. 19, the Terriers men’s basketball team played the final game in the history of the Remsen Street campus. Facing St. Peter’s University — who a year earlier reached the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight — St. Francis earned a 61-58 win to close out the 51-year tenure at the campus.

2023: The athletic program concludes with the men’s tennis team winning its first-ever Northeast Conference championship to earn its only trip to the NCAA Championships. Also, long-jumper Malachi Aiken qualified for the NCAA Division I Men’s Track and Field Championships.

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