BABSON PARK, Mass.—Four decades after the birth of women's athletics at Babson College, the 2016 field hockey team put together a historic campaign on the way to becoming the Beavers' first women's program to reach the Division III Final Four.
Coming off a 2015 season that included 17 victories, the Green and White was even better in 2016 winning 21 games and capturing both New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season and tournament titles under the direction of head coach Julie Ryan. The Beavers, who reached as high as eighth in the national poll, were selected as one of four NCAA Tournament regional hosts for the first time in school history.
Babson defeated St. John Fisher, 3-0, for its first NCAA Tournament win since 2010 in the second round, and then edged Franklin & Marshall 1-0 behind a late goal from Ashley Tango '19 in the national quarterfinals to become the first women's program in school history to advance to the national semifinals.
Despite falling to eventual Division III national champions Messiah 5-2 in the semifinals, the Beavers led 1-0 midway through the first half thanks to a goal by Jacki Merrigan '18, and pulled even at 2-2 on a tally by Tango at the end of the first half before the Eagles pulled away over the final 35 minutes.
Tango and Lauren Drakeley '19 both earned National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-America first team honors for Babson, which set school records for wins and shutouts (15). The Beavers also scored 88 goals, which is still the second highest total in single-season program history.
While the 2016 field hockey squad become the first women's team to reach the Final Four, it is far from the only women's program to enjoy national tournament success. Women's basketball reached the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 1993 and 1994, and twice came within a win of reaching the Final Four before falling in the national quarterfinals in both 2010 and 2011. Longtime head coach Judy Blinstrub's 2010-11 team won its first 30 games and was the last undefeated women's squad in the country in any Division prior to its quarterfinal setback.
Additionally, Babson's women's lacrosse program made four straight NCAA second round appearances from 2007-10, and softball won NCAA regional games as a host in both 2005 and 2006.