COURTESY LITTLE EAST CONFERENCE
PAWTUCKET, R.I. - The common data has long suggested businesses in its first year fail about 50 percent of the time and the percentage increases to 95 percent of new businesses fail within five years, which puts a strong emphasis on strong leadership. The Little East Conference has had some of the best leaders over the league’s 30 years, including this week’s LEC Influencer Robert Dowd.
Dowd was named the second Commissioner of the Little East Conference as he succeeded Dick Costello, the league’s Commissioner for the first five years of existence 1986-1990. Dowd guided the conference through conference expansion between the years of 1990-1995. He was instrumental in the expansion to seven full-time members with the addition of Western Connecticut State in 1993. Dowd also helped the conference expand its sports sponsorship offering with the inclusion of women’s soccer in 1990. Dowd returned to the helm of the conference in 2013 when he was named Interim Commissioner.
Dowd began his career at Southeastern Massachusetts technological Institute (SMTI) in 1967, directing the men’s cross country program and would later oversee the women’s cross country program in 1974. During his 42-years at UMass Dartmouth, serving as an administrator and coach, Dowd accumulated an impressive combined coaching record of 305-53-1 and has coached and mentored six individual NCAA National Champions and 33 Division III All-America performers during his career from 1967 through 1987.
Dowd led the men’s cross country program to 10 consecutive NCAA berths and finished a program-best fourth place in 1980. He also guided the women’s programs to three NCAA Championship appearances, including a back-to-back fourth place finish in 1981 and 1982.
Dowd was named UMass Dartmouth’s Athletic Director in 1987. Dowd replaced the retired Mickey Connolly and served as the department’s head executive continuously until 1995. Dowd would later serve as Interim Athletic Director twice to help with its transition periods. Dowd was inducted into the UMass Dartmouth Hall of Fame in 1998 and inducted into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame in 2013.
1992 UMass Dartmouth Women's Soccer
The Little East Conference began sponsoring women’s soccer in 1990-91 under the leadership of Dowd. A result of the expansion into women’s soccer meant some member institutions, like UMass Dartmouth needed to create its program from the ground up. Dowd positioned Ray Cabral to do just that. Within the first couple of years, Cabral had built the UMass Dartmouth women’s soccer program to national recognition.
The Corsair’s 1992 women’s soccer team is still the winningest team in UMass Dartmouth history with an overall record of 17-3-2. Four team members from the 1992 team are in the Corsair Hall of Fame and were all instrumental in the overall success of the program and its rise to a national power.
Cabral is considered the father of UMass Dartmouth women's soccer. Cabral was the team's first coach as a club team in 1988 then led the team on its rapid rise to national prominence for seven varsity seasons before stepping down after the 1995 season. In seven years, Cabral's teams qualified for six post-season tournaments and compiled a 92-31-8 overall record. Cabral was Little East Conference Coach of the Year for four consecutive seasons from 1990 through 1994.
The following season, UMass Dartmouth captured its first LEC co-championship and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Cabral's Corsairs qualified for three straight NCAA tournaments and also qualified for the ECAC New England Division III tournament three times.
The 1992 women’s soccer team was inducted into the Corsair Hall of Fame in 1996. Four members of the 1992 women’s soccer program would later join the Hall of Fame ranks with individual honors for the Corsairs. The four members include Rachael Barbarossa, Marybeth Callahan, Annmarie Gagnon and Kathleen Regan.
Barbarossa is the first and only Corsairs women’s soccer player to ever earn All-America honors. Barbarossa earned Second Team honors on the 1994 National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Umbro All-America Soccer Team after her senior year.
Callahan is the program’s All-Time leader in points (106) and goals (44). Callahan was a four-year starter for Coach Ray Cabral's women's soccer team and captain of the 1992 Corsairs, who appeared in NCAA Division III national championship game.
Regan was a four-year starter for UMass Dartmouth. She earned All Little East Conference honors and All New England honors in 1992. Despite the Corsairs' 1-0 loss to Cortland State in the championship game, Regan represented the Corsairs on the All-Final Four team and was co-captain of the Final Four team, which was inducted into the Corsair Hall of Fame in 1998.
Gagnon holds the distinction of being the first women's soccer player in the history of the Little East Conference to earn All-Conference honors for four consecutive seasons.
Team members of the UMass Dartmouth 1992 women’s soccer squad includes Coach Ray Cabral, assistant coaches Manuel Martin and Antonio Neves. Players to be inducted are Rachael Barbarossa, Marybeth Callahan, Michelle Eaton, Heather Egan, Annmarie Gagnon, Kimberly Gamache, Lisa Gomes, Mary Ellen Gregory, Elizabeth Kelly, Kristen Kyle, Beth Krumsiek, Melissa Mandracchia, Amy Melville, Leanne Morris, Kathleen Regan, Kimberly Serrecchia, Julie Smalley, Kimberly Taylor and Laura Sherman.
The historic competitive success the LEC has achieved throughout the 30 years, beginning as a basketball only conference in 1986 and expanding into today’s 19-Championship Sport Conference, will continue to make academic and athletic strides as the LEC continues to be the premier Division III conference of the New England region.
The Little East Conference was formed in 1986 when six public institutions gathered to create a single sport athletic conference and has expanded into what is now New England’s premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. The LEC features 19 Championship Sports and sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes while following the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.