Celebrating Lions’ athletics in Fall 2007

Women’s Soccer

The women’s soccer team lost only one game during its 21-1-1 season, falling to Messiah College 2-0 in the NCAA Division III Semifinal game.

“I think this year was a huge success, going undefeated in the regular season and playing in our third straight Final Four,” head coach Joe Russo said. “If any other team were to finish 21-1-1, they would have a parade. For us though, our goal is to win a National Championship.”

“I am very happy with the way we played this year,” he added.

The Lions’ season came to an end at the hands of a familiar Messiah opponent. The Falcons and the Lions have met in the NCAA playoffs each of the last four years with the Falcons holding a 3-1 record in that span.

Allowing six goals all season while netting 80, the Lions dominated opponents en route to an undefeated regular season. Junior forward Jamie Kunkel paced the team in scoring with 17 goals while sophomore forward Briann McDonough led the team in assists with 12.

Sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Clarke followed up her impressive freshman year with 12 complete game shutouts and a .891 save percentage.

Among the seven seniors graduating in June, key losses include forward Dana DiBruno and defender Courtney Krol. Both earned All-America awards during their careers.

DiBruno also holds the Lions’ all-time points record, finishing her career with 137 points (55 goals and 27 assists).

“I don’t think this graduation class is replaceable,” coach Russo said. “When they came in, they helped our program evolve to what it is now. They will be greatly missed.”

– Justin Jez, Staff Writer

Men’s Soccer

After finishing below .500 last season, the men’s soccer team showed a vast improvement in its 2007 campaign, lifting its record to 10-6-1 on the year and 5-2-2 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).

“We did very well for the schedule that we had,” head coach George Nazario said. “You can either have a soft type of schedule and win a bunch of games or have a tough one and lose a lot of games. I feel we had the most challenging schedule in the conference, and we definitely stepped it up to meet the challenge.”

The Lions won their first four games by a combined score of 20-4. Seven players had two goals or more in that stretch, including senior forward Nima Rahimi and freshman defender/midfielder Mike Razzoli.

“I’ve known (Razzoli) for the last three years and he’s done a pretty good job adjusting to the college game,” Nazario said. “He’s gotten plenty of playing time and has been very versatile for us.”

After a tough loss to No. 1 York College and two ties in double-overtime affairs, the Lions won six of their next eight matches by two goals or fewer, which can be credited to stellar goalkeeping by the tandem of seniors Steve Scutellaro and Matt Kasperavicius.

The team dropped its final four games of the year, including an NJAC quarterfinal match to Rowan University. Despite ending its season that way, the team is looking forward to improving in 2008.

“Next year’s going to be a challenge, as 10 or 11 seniors are going to be leaving through graduation,” Nazario said. “With freshmen, transfers and those returning, we’re going to have a real good shot.”

– Michael O’Donnell, Staff Writer


The Lions enjoyed great success in the 2007 season, finishing 9-3 and holding a share of the NJAC Championship.

The team bookended an eight-game win streak with losses to Muhlenberg College and Kean University in the regular season. In the playoffs, it defeated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on the road before losing to top-ranked defending champion Mount Union College.

Head coach Eric Hamilton completed his 31st year as football head coach and won his sixth NJAC Coach of the Year award.

“I don’t think you can overlook the involvement of all the people involved in making a football team click. Just like on the field, it takes teamwork,” Hamilton said.

On the field, senior leadership was crucial for the squad. Senior co-captains running back Dan Dornacker and defensive back Andrew Larkin helped lead the offense and defense, respectively.

For his efforts, Larkin was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America College Division Football Second Team.

Senior kicker Matt Dalessio played a role in deciding three games – including the postseason win at RPI – by converting last-second field goals. He finished 11-of-26, including a career-long 43-yarder.

Senior defensive lineman Joe King had 71 tackles and 15 sacks en route to the NJAC Defensive Player of the Year honor.

Fans can look forward to next season as the returning players, including sophomore quarterback Chris James, battle for another conference title and spot in the NCAA playoffs.

– Duncan Slobodzian, Staff Writer

Cross Country

The cross country teams began their seasons by running the New York University Invitational held at Van Cortland Park, providing them with a strong competitive field and the experience of running at the site of the Regional meet.

Two highlights of the season were the men and women’s first-place team finishes at the NJAC Championships.

Junior Chris Guerriero was the individual male NJAC Champion for the second straight year and earned his second All-America title after placing 23rd at Nationals.

The men’s team also brought home a first place victory from the DeSales University Invitational in Center Valley, Pa.

Other individual honors were earned by freshman T.J. Bocchino, NJAC Men’s Cross Country Rookie of the Year, and senior Angela Tecco, NJAC Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Year and Rookie of the Year.

“Everyone that contributed to the team this season went above and beyond their responsibilities for the love of the sport,” head coach Phil Jennings said. “The team holds their accomplishments very dear to their hearts. They have done a lot more work than any has asked them to, and their passion definitely shows through the results from meets throughout the season.”

– Leeann Weiner, Staff Writer


The Lions produced an International Tennis Association (ITA) Northeast Regional doubles championship women’s duo (sophomore Jackie Shtemberg and senior Christina Contrafatto) and two ITA Northeast Regional champions (senior Mike Klimchak and Shtemberg).

Though 2007 was the first year the Lions saw both men’s and women’s regional champions, the biggest surprise of the season was Shtemberg’s National Championship victory to become the College’s first women’s individual National Champion.

“Nationals were the highlight of the women’s season,” head coach Scott Dicheck said, “and our senior captains meeting in the Regional finals was the highlight of the men’s season.”

“(This season) had by far the most success from both the men’s and women’s sides,” he added.

The women’s team’s in-conference win streak stands at 121 after another perfect NJAC season.

– Bobby Olivier, Staff Writer

Field Hockey

The Lions finished their season as NJAC champions for the second straight year, earning a 6-0 in-conference record.

“Our season was quite successful,” head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “We had a great group of student-athletes who worked diligently everyday to achieve their goals as individuals and as a team.”

Defense was key for the Lions this year, as they allowed an average of one goal per game and recorded 11 shutouts.

The Lions’ defense ended the season ranked 10th in the country and saw junior defender Kelly Mitchell both selected as a First Team All-American and honored as the NJAC Defensive Player of the Year. Veteran coach Pfluger earned this year’s NJAC Coach of the Year award.

In the regular season, the Lions outscored their opposition 28-3 in conference games.

“The leadership provided by our senior captains – Ashleigh Pecherski, Colleen Dougherty and Sheri Grondski – was outstanding,” Pfluger said. “I am very proud of them.”

The Lions’ efforts earned them a bid to the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Tournament for the 27th straight year.

After advancing to the Regional Finals of the Tournament, the Lions suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of Middlebury College, ending their season with a final 17-3 record.

“Next year,” Pfluger concluded, “I am looking forward to another great season with hopes of advancing further in the National Tournament.”

– Kristen Lord,
Sports Assistant