As of March 16, the College stood in third place for the United States Sports Academy Director’s Cup for NCAA Division III competition. This spring, six Lions varsity teams will see playoff action and look to move the College up in the standings.
Lacrosse leads the pack as it will vie for a three-peat NCAA Division III championship this year. After winning in 2005 and 2006, the Lions lost several key players to graduation but those who were left picked up the slack and the team has been just as successful as last season, repeating the 15-2 record held in 2006.
Junior midfielder Karen Doane took charge of the Lions this season and led the team in goals with 42 and was second in assists with 11. Junior midfielder Toni-Anne Cavallo led the team in assists with 15 and erupted for 29 goals this season. Sophomore attacker Rachel Gordon and junior attacker Kate Neese have also left an impression on the Lions after Gordon scored 22 goals with four assists and Neese tallied 15 goals with eight assists.
Junior goalkeeper Cailtin Gregory has shown her strength in net with only 86 goals against this season. Gregory had a save percentage of .497.
The Lions lost their best player in midfielder Lauren Dougher last year. Dougher received many accolades including MVP of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Though anyone will have a hard time filling Dougher’s shoes, together the Lions create a powerful force in the NCAA that will be hard to contain.
The Lions have held a perfect 6-0 record at home this season, scoring an alarming 169 goals and holding opponents to 90. The team is ranked No. 3 regionally behind No. 2 Gettysburg College (13-2) and No. 1 Franklin and Marshall College (15-0).
The College fell to Gettysburg earlier this season on April 6 by a score of 9-8 but beat them 10-4 in last year’s championship game. The same went for the College’s only other loss of the season to Salisbury University. The Lions fell to the Sea Gulls 13-12 this season but beat them for the national championship 9-7 in 2005.
With one game remaining on Friday against Frostburg State University, the NCAA Division III Tournament will begin on May 9 and the championship game will take place on May 20 in Geneva, N.Y.
After posting a 1:51.65 in the 800-meter run at the Larry Ellis Invitational on April 21, senior Jeff Zodda earned an NCAA qualifying time and was the top Division III runner in the event. Zodda took the NCAA Division III crown in the same event last spring and will try to defend that title this season.
Junior Galen Johnson took second place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:42.12 to take an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) qualifying time, while the men’s 4×400 relay team finished third with an ECAC-provisional time of 3:19.94. The team was comprised of sophomores Rob McGowan and Woodrow Prevard and freshmen DeShard Stevens and Steve Murray.
The Lions also racked up three ECAC times in the 400-meter race. McGowan took fifth with a time of 49.30, Murray came in ninth at 50.14 and Prevard placed 10th in 50.33. Junior Brian Donatelli was the top Division III performer in the hammer throw with a distance of 46.18 meters. He took fourth place for the throw and qualified for the ECAC Championships. He followed it with an ECAC distance of 14.60 in the shot put.
Sophomore Stephanie Herrick will look to join Zodda as she posted an ECAC qualifying time in the same event with a time of 2:15.79, a meet record. Senior Angela Tecco and junior Sara Best followed Herrick in the event and also recorded ECAC qualifying times. Tecco placed second as she crossed the finish line at 2:15.96 and Best took fourth with a time of 2:17.91. Herrick joined with Tecco, freshman Jennifer Caratola and junior Jessica Bonelli to grab an NCAA provisional time of 3:53.01 in the 4×400 relay.
Bonelli added her own ECAC provisional time after running a 57.64 400-meter race to take fifth place.
After hosting the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championships on May 5, the Lions will participate in the Tuppeny Twilight meet on May 14 and the ECAC Division III Championships May17-18 before reaching the NCAA Division III Championships May 24-26.
The men’s tennis team will also move on to the playoffs after posting an 11-2 record. Ranked No. 10 regionally in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll, the Lions look to improve on last season after being one win away from making it to the playoffs. Junior Michael Klimchak is ranked No. 9 in the Northeast Region and he joins with Roger Mosteller to catch the No. 4 ranking in the Northeast. The doubles team is a perfect mix of power and finesse and continues to take control over its opponents as it looks to continue that trend in May.
Though not individually ranked, the rest of the Lions tennis team is key to its success. Senior Corey Ball is finishing out his stellar career at the College with a 16-4 record. Sophomore Jeremy Eckardt also has a hand in the team’s success after posting a 17-4 record this year. Leading the Lions, however, is junior Eric Ferriere, who continues to overpower his opponents in unsung fashion. Currently at 19-3 overall, the Lions will look to Ferriere to edge them past NCAA opponents to come.
The women’s tennis team continues to impress the crowds this spring as it holds a 14-1 overall record this year. After reaching its 116-0 record in the NJAC this past fall, the Lions now stand at No. 7 in the Northeast Region. Freshman Jackie Shtemberg is also ranked No. 7 in the Northeast Singles bracket with a 26-3 record while junior Christina Contrafatto, 11-2 on the season, holds the No. 23 Regional ranking. The pair is ranked No. 1 together in doubles as they stand at 23-5 together overall this year.
Besides the leading pair, the Lions are backed by strong play in freshman Stefanie Haar, who has a 21-4 record on the year, and by Haley Kutner, who currently stands at 19-5 in her sophomore season. Senior Kristen Turturiello is completing her campaign at the College with a 15-4 overall record.
Tennis playoffs will begin on May 5 at the NCAA Division III Regional Tournament and will conclude May 19-21 at the NCAA Championships.
The Lions also look to propel the baseball team to an NCAA Division III Championship. Currently 28-8, the Lions hope to improve on last year’s 38-8 record. After falling short in the NCAA Regional Tournament in 2006, the Lions’ goal all season has been to get a national championship.
With returning All-Americans senior catcher Gerard Haran and senior first baseman Blake Bullis leading the pack, the Lions have a strong chance of making it to the title game this year. The Lions boast the NCAA Division III Position Player of the Year in Haran, who holds the home run record at the College with 47.
Senior Jeff Botti leads the team with a .381 batting average, while sophomore Jeff Toth follows close behind with a .377 average and 21 stolen bases this season. Toth has knocked out six home runs and leads the team in hits with 55. With five doubles and five triples, Toth’s slugging percentage is a chilling .603. Other notables on this team are members of the dominant pitching staff. Senior Dave Waseleski leads the team in ERA with 1.47. With a 5-0 record, batters hit only .196 off of the hurler.
Junior Mike Oliver also stands at 5-0 on the season with a 2.90 ERA and is second on the team in strikeouts with 38. Junior Bob Buskett is putting up stellar numbers as well this season. Despite a 3.83 ERA, Buskett is tied for pitching the most innings, 49-1/3, and has handed out 30 strikeouts with batters hitting .251 off of him. Senior Blake Ortiz is also having a standout year with a 2.19 ERA and a 5-1 record. Ortiz has also pitched in 49-1/3 innings and leads the team in strikeouts with 42 while batters struggle to hit .212 off of him.
The Lions are ranked No. 1 in the NJAC with a 14-4 record and are No. 2 in the Mid-Atlantic NCAA Division III Region.
The Lions are just behind the Kean University Cougars, whom the College lost to twice this season. Kean stands in the College’s way in the NJAC playoffs, which are scheduled to take place May 3-7. With many key players graduating after this season, 2007 may be the right year for a Division III National Championship.
After taking second place overall in last year’s Director’s Cup, the Lions hope to gain some ground during the playoffs and improve on last season’s accomplishments.