The football team is gearing up for its match-up with rival William Paterson University this Friday by practicing hard and staying focused.
A hard work ethic in practice and a drive to beat a team they haven’t beaten for the last two years is fueling the team to bring their best against a tough William Paterson squad.
“As a junior, I’ve never beat William Paterson since I’ve been here,” tight end Patrick Chirchirillo said. “They came back on us my freshmen year in the second half and took it to us with solid defense last year. I want to beat Paterson bad.”
“I feel like teams have multiple rivals when it comes to the NJAC,” senior defensive back Shawn Brown said, “but we owe them from last year and the entire team is excited about the first game.”
Intensity in practice is helping to keep the team focused. The team believes that a superior work ethic will be their advantage over opponents this year.
“We’re going to have to have a lot of energy in practice and win the game during preparation for the week,” Chirchirillo said. “Coaches always say a team practices how they play, so whichever team has the better week of practice should be successful with a victory.”
The Pioneers enter the season as the seventh-ranked team in the NJAC, two spots below the College. Although the team is ranked higher than William Paterson and is favored to win, the game is being treated as very important.
“It’s essential that we start the season against (Paterson) on the right foot with a victory,” Chirchirillo said. “If we want to reach our goal of winning the NJAC and making the NCAA playoffs, we have to play every game like it’s our last. There are so many talented, well-coached teams in the conference we have to be at our best week-in and week-out. Week one is the start to our goal of winning the NJAC.”
The Lions play William Paterson this Saturday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Pioneers’ home field in Wayne, N.J.