Fall Sports Preview 2012
So... are you ready for some FOOTBALL???!!!
How about some field hockey, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, and men's and women's cross country?
Returning students already know this, but if you're a freshmen or transfer you may not have heard: across the board, Rowan athletes are committed, competent and competitive.
If one phrase can sum up the spirit of a campus, this may be it: Bring it ON!
If Rowan's season opener Sept. 1 against Delaware Valley College is an indication of things to come, this will be one sweet season. The Profs, ranked 20th after the season opener, upset 5th ranked Delaware Valley with junior running back Matt Dortch leading the charge. Dortch rushed for 158 yards and scored a 71-yard touchdown in the 27-13 upset.
While the team opened strong, it looks to improve on the 2011 season in which Rowan finished 5-5 overall and 5-4 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
“I think we can be really good and very competitive,” said Head Coach Jay Accorsi. “We will see early on... We have a talented and deep group and I feel really good.”
The Profs were selected fourth in the NJAC Preseason Coaches Poll and received two first place votes.
Returning offensive starters include senior quarterback Louie Bianchini. Last season, his first at the helm, Bianchini completed 174 of 305 passes for 1,984 yards and 19 touchdowns and received NJAC All-Conference honorable mention.
On defense, returning starters include senior tackle Steve Williams, a co-captain whose honors included placement on the NJAC All-Conference first team and the D3football.com All-East Region second team honors last season.
"One of the keys to our season will be how we start,” Accorsi said. “All our opponents are good but we need to play well in our first two games to set the tone for the year."
It's a rebuilding year for Rowan's field hockey squad as the team replaces its top four scorers from 2011 and three NJAC first team selections. While filling those spots won’t be easy, head coach Penny Kempf is confident her squad will not only be competitive, but will make a postseason run. The Profs last year finished 13-7 with a 4-2 conference mark.
“Our goals are to win the NJAC, go to the NCAA tournament and win a national championship," Kempf said.
Despite the loss of nine seniors, Rowan ranked third in the NJAC Preseason Coaches Poll and 18th in the Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association Preseason Poll. The reigning conference champions, The College of New Jersey, were selected as the favorite while Montclair State University was picked to finish second. The Profs this season play five teams ranked in the top 25 nationally with three of those matchups on the road.
“We’re in one of the hardest conferences in the country,” Kempf said, but she's OK with that. “We want to play the best possible teams we can.”
Rowan’s volleyball team enters the 2012 season with high expectations. The Profs return five starters from the 2011 team that went 15-16 overall and 5-2 in the NJAC. Rowan advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament.
“I hate to lose and I want the team to reach its potential,” said Head Coach Libby Ranero. “I expect to get as much out of the athletes as they have in them. I want them to realize they can do things they don’t think they can. I expect the team to improve daily and do their personal best every time they are on the court.”
This year’s team includes one senior, seven juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen. Veteran juniors Krissy Collins and Dakota Oeskovic will play at outside hitter joined by senior Katie Havlicek and freshmen Danielle Havlicek. Freshmen Maggie Catherina, junior Elaina Hansen, freshmen Morgan Mende and sophomore Sarah Hanrahan may also see time at outside hitter.
“It is a huge advantage to have the majority of the team together for over two years,” Ranero said. “The team is familiar with each other’s nonverbal communication and tendencies and that gives us an edge. They can sense where each other are and where they will be."
The Rowan men's soccer squad, led by 37th-year Head Coach and newly named Athletic Director Dan Gilmore, placed sixth in the NJAC Preseason Men's Soccer Coaches Poll.
The Profs have produced a mark of 537-167-57 under Gilmore, including a record of 9-6-4 in 2011. Rowan returns four all-conference players from its fourth place 2011 NJAC team including senior forward Julian Berrios, junior goalkeeper Ryan Gill, sophomore forward Christian Fountain, and senior midfielder Ryan Gordon.
This season, the team attempts to build on a successful 2011 in which it advanced to the semifinals of the NJAC Championship Tournament.
“Last year, we thought we had the opportunity to beat Rutgers-Camden in the semifinals of the conference tournament,” Gilmore said. “This season we are more unified and experienced... I expect us to compete for the conference championship and earn a NCAA bid."
Rowan returns its top four scorers including sophomore Christian Fountain and senior Julian Berrios, the starting forwards. Fountain led the Profs with 24 points on 10 goals and four assists. In the conference, he was seventh in points per game, tied for seventh in goals per game and tied for 13th in assists. He received NJAC All-Conference honorable mention and was chosen Rookie of the Week three times. Berrios followed with five goals and three assists for 13 points. In the NJAC, he tied for 17th in points and goals. Berrios was selected to the All-Conference second team. Sophomores Devon Garner and Mike Pinter will also see time at forward.
The Rowan women’s soccer team is looking to carry on its winning tradition in 2012. The Profs have compiled 13 straight winning seasons under Head Coach Scott Leacott and eight NCAA Championship Tournament appearances. Last year, the women’s team had a 14-5 overall record with an 8-0 conference mark. Rowan was the number one seed in the NJAC Championship Tournament and received an at-large bid to the national tournament.
“This team is going to be similar to last year,” Leacott said. “We are not going to have a 20 goal scorer but we could have three players with 10 or more. With our style of play, we will have several players that will contribute.”
In 2011, Rowan had balanced scoring with seven players in double figures.
Returning veterans include junior back midfielder Dayna Sakalsky who was third in scoring with 19 points, eight goals and three assists and tied for 12th in goals conference wide. She received NJAC All-Conference honorable mention. This season, Sakalsky will also see time on the front line.
Sophomore forward Erika Suhl returns after an outstanding rookie season. She contributed with 17 points, finished fourth on the team and was tied for seventh in the conference in assists. Suhl was chosen the NJAC Rookie of the Week one time.
At forward, the Profs also have veteran Jess Durnian, a sophomore, and freshmen newcomers Becca Labinger and Jaimie Bertoli.
Learn more about Rowan's women's soccer team in a full preview.
MEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
With only two returning seniors and four returning juniors, Head Coach Bill Fritz expects the 2012 season to be a rebuilding one for the men’s cross country team. Last year, Rowan won the Salisbury Fall Classic and Collegiate Track Conference (CTC) Championships. The Profs finished second at the NJAC Championships, Fordham Fiasco and Dickinson Long-Short Invitational. Rowan tied for seventh place at the NCAA Atlantic Regional.
“This year, we have a roster of 23 runners and most of them are underclassmen,” Fritz said. “We have two good lead runners – Mike Carotenuto and Jeff Tauriello. Mike had a fantastic track season with pretty good times and he is only going to get better. Jeff is a true distance runner. He has done the miles and just needs to build up his confidence.”
Carotenuto and Tauriello take over for Eric DuBois, the team’s top runner last year. DuBois finished fifth (25:21.5) at the NCAA Atlantic Regional and qualified for the national championships. He recorded a time of 25:03.10 at the NCAAs. At the conference championships, DuBois came in third (26:16.82) for his third straight All-Conference first team honor. He took second (25:14.21) at the Fordham Fiasco and fourth at the CTC Championships (26:47.76) and Salisbury Fall Classic (25:55). DuBois will be an assistant coach for the squad while attending graduate school at the University.
WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY
The Rowan women’s cross country team enters the 2012 season as the defending NJAC Champion. Winning the conference title, the Profs ended The College of New Jersey’s 16-year streak. In 2011, Rowan finished fourth at the NCAA Atlantic Regional and 26th at the NCAA Division III Championships. The women’s cross country team won the Salisbury Fall Classic, Fordham Fiasco and Collegiate Track Conference Championships.
“We have a lot more depth than last year,” said Head Coach and NJAC Coach of the Year Ringo Adamson. “I think the gap between our first and fifth runners will be much smaller. There are a lot of runners that can step up and perform. It’s a matter of training hard and them believing in themselves. We have a good team chemistry and the athletes want to achieve as a team. This is one of the best groups I’ve coached."
Junior Vanessa Wright was the individual winner at the conference championships with a season best time of 21:10.67. She was named the NJAC Runner of the Year and to the All-Conference first team. She took third at the NCAA Atlantic Regional in 21:58.5. Wright won the Lehigh Paul Short Invitational with a time of 21:40 and was named NJAC Runner of the Week twice.
“Wright is an excellent runner,” Adamson said. “Her talent and racing experience are invaluable. She exemplifies speed and endurance combined. When she is fine tuned, you can’t find a smoother runner, she just floats through the air.”
Tri-captain Danielle Czohla, a senior, is back for her final season. Last year, injuries limited Czohla to two meets. She placed 17th (16:19) at the Dickinson Invitational (4K) and ran 24:31 at the Lehigh Paul Short Invitational (6K). Junior Meghan Borz is coming off a strong sophomore campaign. She captured seventh with a season best time of 22:41.42 at the NJAC Championships for All-Conference first team honors. Borz finished 54th (23:26.6) at the NCAA Atlantic Regional, placed sixth (19:14.05) at the CTC Championships, (5K) and came in eighth (20:02.41) at the Fordham Fiasco (5K).