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ArlingtonSportsMarymount, Catholic U. square off for bragging rights

Marymount, Catholic U. square off for bragging rights

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In the inaugural Pope’s Cup competition between two Division III college athletic programs, Marymount University  finished second to Catholic University of D.C.

The battle for the cup is a school-year-long competition in which the men’s and women’s teams from each school play in many regular-season sports.

Each school receives one point if one of its teams wins, or finishes ahead of the other in multiple-team events, as in a golf tournament or a cross country meets. At the end of all sports encounters, the school with the most points is awarded the Pope’s Cup.

Catholic won with 8.5 points, with Marymount having 2.5, winning in women’s volleyball, men’s basketball and garnering an additinal half-point because the women’s softball teams split two games.


In a recent ceremony hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Catholic University director of athletics Sean Sullivan was presented the Cup by Michael Burbidge, bishop of Arlington. Marymount president Irma Becerra also participated in the ceremony.

“We are grateful to Bishop Burbidge for his support and for hosting the inaugural ceremony,” Catholic University president John Garvey said. “We have raised the stakes for future athletic competitions with Marymount.”

Catholic and Marymount teams used to compete against one another regularly when the schools were members of the Capital Athletic Conference. Each has sinced joined different leagues. The colleges are separated by just 11 miles.

The Pope’s Cup is similar to the Army vs. Navy “Star Series” competition and other athletic-department rivalries across the country.

“The Pope’s Cup provides a great opportunity for the two of us to build a new athletic tradition, which encourages alumni participation for us both,” Becerra said. “I am very excited about our Marymount family coming out to root the Saints on to victory when the two schools compete with each other.”

In future years, the winning university will be presented with the Cup at one of the final competitions of the school year. If the overall Cup points are tied at the end of the year, the previous champion retains the Cup.

“I am delighted to see our two great area Catholic universities engaged in this activity,” Burbidge said. “The Pope’s Cup celebrates the fine athletic traditions of these institutions, and will be a welcome annual competition.”

During the 2021-22 year, Marymount’s teams collectively performed well. The men’s volleyball qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, while the women’s golf won its second-straight Centennial Conference title and appeared at the NCAA championships.

In its first full season as a program, the men’s tennis team won the Atlantic East title.

The men’s basketball, baseball and women’s volleyball teams made it to in conference-tournament-championship games.

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