LIU Athletics Earns National and International Acclaim in 2020


LIU Sharks student-athletes and coaches have earned national and international recognition for their performance on the field and in the classroom since the University expanded its NCAA Divison I program.

ESPN published a feature story covering the LIU men’s ice hockey team, the first NCAA Division I ice hockey team on Long Island. Additionally, senior goaltender Garett Metcalf earned recognition from Sports Illustrated as part of their top 100 NCAA players to watch in 2020–21 list. Metcalf was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2015 NHL Draft.

LIU selected Brett Riley to lead the men’s ice hockey program. Riley is a third generation collegiate hockey coach who joins LIU from Colgate University. He founded and maintained operations of GEN3 Hockey, an elite youth hockey program comprised of 42 teams and 855 players that has developed 12 NHL draft picks. Riley’s father and grandfather both served as head coach at Army West Point.

Three members of the LIU women’s hockey team will represent their home countries by competing for their national teams in upcoming international tournaments. Sophomore defender Paula Bergstrom, #2, and sophomore forward Matilda Af Bjur, #21, both made the Sweden National Team, and sophomore defender Linn Thomsen, #8, made the Denmark National Team.

The LIU cheerleading team landed a top 10 finish at the Universal Cheerleaders Association College Nationals, the most prestigious college cheerleading championship in the country. The event is held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN2 to over 100 million homes and 32 countries nationwide each year.

The inaugural gymnastics recruiting class received a big boost with the signing of freshman Mara Titarsolej. Titarsolej joined the Dutch National Team in 2013 and represented the Netherlands at the 2015 World Championships. She helped the Dutch team qualify a full team to the Olympics for the first time in almost 50 years. In 2016, Titarsolej competed as an individual at the European Championships in Switzerland, placing fifth on floor exercise.

The LIU football team added coaches with elite pedigrees, hiring Super Bowl champion Jim Cordle as offensive coordinator, and Mark Smith as defensive coordinator. Smith joins the Sharks from the University of Arkansas, with previous coaching stops at the University of Oklahoma and Southern Methodist University. Cordle was the offensive coordinator at Urbana University and previously coached at Ohio State University, his alma mater. He played four seasons in the National Football League with the New York Giants, highlighted by the team’s Super Bowl XLVI victory in 2012.

Five LIU athletic programs received NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program awards. LIU baseball, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s track & field and volleyball all scored in the top 10 percent nationally in Academic Progress Rate (APR) in their respective sports. The APR is an annual scorecard of academic achievement calculated for all Division I sports teams nationally.

Long Island University athletics set a Northeast Conference single-season record for the highest cumulative GPA during the 2019–2020 academic year, winning the prestigious Institutional GPA Award in the process. The University also claimed a conference-best six team GPA awards, two more than any other institution in the NCAA Division I conference.

The LIU women’s swimming team finished with the fourth-highest team GPA in the nation at 3.70, ahead of other top schools, including Harvard University, Michigan State University and American University. As a result, the Sharks were named a Fall Scholar All-America Team by the College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America.