Twice as nice: Lions look for repeat NJAC crowns

After a dominating fall season in 2007, the Lions football, soccer, cross-country, tennis and field hockey teams are looking to duplicate their success from last year. Some teams are looking to maintain their dominance within the conference, some are looking to avenge late-season heartbreaks and others are hoping to show off their skills on a national stage.


The College’s football team has more than just a brand-new turf field to brag about – they are the defending New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) champions, looking to repeat with an experienced, hungry team.

Captains for this year’s squad include junior quarterback Chris James, senior defensive back Dave Fontoura and senior offensive lineman Mike Skomba.

Last year, the Lions showed real promise when they went on an impressive eight-game tear – tackling Division I La Salle, NJAC opponents like rival Rowan on the road, and Rensselear Polytechnic Institute on the road in a playoff game. The schedule this year is chock-full of formidable match-ups and tough conference showdowns.

The Lions kick the season off on Sept. 5 in Madison, N.J., against Farleigh Dickinson University Florham. It’s one of the nation’s oldest-running gridiron rivalries; the Lions crushed their cross-state adversaries last year, 53-7.

From there, the team will enjoy a bye week before making the long bus ride to Buffalo, N.Y., to square off against NJAC member Buffalo State College on Sept. 20.

Fans of the Lions can mark Sept. 27 on their calendar – it’s the home debut of the 2008 football team. Other notable home games include a matchup with William Paterson University at Homecoming, SUNY-Cortland and Rowan in the regular season finale.

– Duncan Slobodzian, Staff Writer

Women’s Soccer

In 2007, backed by a stringent defense, the women’s soccer team smoked the NJAC and most of their Division III competition en route to a 21-0-1 mark. But with momentum on their side, the Lions met a disappointing end when they were blanked 2-0 by then-No. 2 Messiah College in the NCAA Division III semi-finals.

Goalkeeper Jessica Clarke and All-Americans Dana DiBruno and Courtney Krol have all graduated, leaving senior forward Jamie Kunkel and senior goalie Kristina Kuda to lead the women in ’08. Kunkel can handle the offensive burden, as she led the team with 17 goals last year, but Kuda has enormous shoes to fill. The new goalie must become the impregnable wall Clarke was if the Lions hope to duplicate their 2007 success. Clarke only allowed 5 goals in 23 games last year.

Junior forward Briann McDonough will help continue the soccer team’s tradition of excellence, as she looks to be a playmaker for the Lions’ always surging offense. She led the team with 12 assists in 2008.

The team opens up their season on Saturday against New York University at the Elizabeth Blue Jay Classic in Elizabethtown, Pa.

– James Queally, Sports Editor

Men’s Soccer

Youth will trump experience for the 2008 men’s soccer campaign. Losing 11 seniors to graduation, the Lions will look to junior forward Kevin Luber and sophomore defenseman/midfielder Mike Razzoli to lead this season’s run through the NJAC.

Luber led the offense last year with 10 goals, while Razzoli was the only freshman to play in all 19 games.

Like the women’s team, the men have a huge question mark at goalkeeper with seniors Steve Scutarello and Matt Kasperavicius both gone. It will be up to sophomores Chris Kulik and Eric Goldwaser to patrol the space between the crossbars.

The Lions will look for consistent play all around to avoid the late-season missteps that plagued them last year. After surging to a No. 7 national rank, crippling conference losses led them to an early exit against Rowan in the NJAC tournament.

The Lions kick off their season Saturday against Farleigh Dickinson University Florham in Hoboken, N.J.

– James Queally, Sports Editor

Men’s XC

While the rest of the student body is gettling back into the swing of things at school, the cross country team has been hitting the pavement hard all summer long. The men’s team is returning with their top runners, positioning the 2008 season to be extremely competitive.

Earning All-American honors, senior Chris Guerriero returns to lead the team. Last season’s outstanding rookie, sophomore TJ Bocchino, is back to add to his already impressive college career. Also returning are captains Brian Kopnicki, senior cross-country and track-and-field All-American and junior Josh Krowicki.

The men have held the NJAC Championship title for 14 consecutive years and they seek to recapture the title this season. Guerriero brought home the individual gold medal at this meet in 2007.

Additionally, the men placed third at the 2007 NCAA Division III Atlantic Regionals earning themselves an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championship, where the College ranked 28th.

The men will kick off their season at the Old Nassau Run at nearby Princeton University on Sept. 13.

– Leann Weiner, Staff Writer

Women’s XC

The women’s cross country team has also been racking up mileage throughout the summer. With a majority of the top female competitors from last year returning and a rather large recruitment pool, this season is shaping up to be one for the record books.

Returning harriers from last year include juniors Martine McGrath, Stephanie Herrick and Nicole Ullmeyer. All look forward to improving upon last year’s standings.

“Our team has had a lot of success in the past.” McGrath said. “We just want to keep that going.”

Just like the men’s team, the women’s team is the reigning NJAC Champion, owning 13 straight conference victories. Junior Angela Tecco also took home the individual title in 2007.

At the 2007 NCAA Division III Atlantic Regionals, the women’s team ran to a fourth-place finish, also earning them an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championships, where they finished 22nd.

The women kick off their season with the men at the Old Nassau Run in Princeton on Sept. 13.

Mcgrath said, “There is going to be a lot of good competition there so it will be a good chance to get into a good racing atmosphere.”

– Leann Weiner, Staff Writer

Men’s Tennis

After one of the most successful seasons in the College’s history, the men’s tennis team is poised to make another mark on the face of the NJAC tennis circuit.

The Lions finished their season with a respectable record of 10-7 and a record of 6-2 at the College’s Tennis Complex. Highlights from the 2007-2008 season included Mike Klimchak’s ITA Northeast Regional Individual Championship, as well as a strong showing by Klimchak in the ITA National Championship, where he placed seventh. This year’s team returns several key players, including junior Jeremy Eckardt and sophomore Jonathan Yu, while Coach Dicheck is expected to receive a strong freshman class.

Tournament play litters the men’s fall schedule, so the Lions will be focused on bringing their style of play to the regional stage. Although the team is losing several key starters including the All-American Klimchak, the College is on track to make noise in the NJAC yet again.

– Bobby Olivier, Sports Assistant

Women’s Tennis

The women’s tennis team enters the 2008 fall season riding a record 121-match win streak in the NJAC and plans to keep the streak alive. The Lions finished the 2007-2008 campaign 12-7 with a perfect 5-0 conference mark. The main highlight for the squad was undoubtedly then-sophomore Jackie Shtemberg’s win at the ITA National Championship, making her the first women’s individual national champion in the College’s athletic history.

“The (College) tennis team has improved a great deal since my incoming class arrived,” Shtemberg said. “Even though last year as a team we struggled a lot and faced some tough losses we are still moving forward and improving, so I’m not too worried.”

The Lions are returning several key starters, including All-American Shtemberg, junior Stephanie Haar and senior Haley Kutner. The College may be seeing more trophies from this tennis powerhouse in the near future.

– Bobby Olivier, Sports Assistant

Field Hockey

After clinching the NJAC title once again last year, the Lions’ season was cut short by a disappointing 2-1 loss in the NCAA Division III Field Hockey Regional Championship at the hands of Middlebury College.

The team finished with a more-than-respectable 17-3 record, but this year, both coaches and players have their sights set on something much higher – an NCAA Championship.

Coach Sharon Pfluger is entering her 23rd year as coach for the College. She has racked up over 400 wins during her time as the Lions’ skipper.

Returning to the lineup this year for the Lions are senior All-Americans Kelly Mitchell at defender and Jenny Lubin at forward. Lubin was responsible for 11 goals and three assists last season.

Adding to the Lions’ powerhouse offense this year is senior forward/midfielder Katie Reuther. Last year, Mitchell and Reuther were each named to the ECAC First Team.

The team will face their first big test on Sept. 23, when Urisinus College visits Lions’ Stadium. The Bears handed the Lions their first loss last season.

This year, the Lions’ quest for a championship begins this Saturday at 1 p.m. in their home opener versus Millersville University.

– Kristen Lord, Features Editor