Fall Sports are Underway at Stevens

9/28/2011

 We’re in the midst of a new season for the Ducks and one that players, administrators and students hope will be another winning year. The men’s and women’s teams take to the fields and the courts this fall following the program’s most successful season in Stevens’ history. Among the highlights from last year:

-    Zach Carr (’11) and Laura Barito (’11) made history for Stevens – in multiple ways each
-    Women’s soccer competed in the NCAA Division III Championship – they made it to the second round.
-     Field Hockey, women’s volleyball and men’s soccer all played in the NCAA tournament
-    Men’s Basketball won the ECAC Metro Championship
-    Three students were named student/athlete players of the year and 33 were all-conference selections.
But they face the new season amid coaching changes and departure of a number of senior players who helped lead the athletic program to big wins.
“We graduated a lot of impressive kids,” says Robert Kulish, Director of Sports Information and Events. “We had a lot of seniors and veterans so it paves the way for less-heralded athletes to step up. This year we’re going to have new kids making names for themselves. The women’s soccer team, for instance, has scored eight goals by eight different players.”
One could call this season a change from the legacy years to the next generation of accomplished student athletes. And while the season is already in full swing, Homecoming Weekend, on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15, helps celebrate the start of the season. The weekend coincides with the Inauguration of the Seventh President of Stevens Institute of Technology, Dr. Nariman Farvardin. For the full homecoming schedule, please visit the Ducks website.
The coming weeks of October mark a critical period in the fall season as the lead up to the Empire 8 tournament in November.
“The start of the year can be a barometer because the teams play a lot of strong teams outside the conference, so you can see where you stack up and how you can improve heading into Empire 8 play,” Kulish says. “But you really want to play your best coming down the stretch in October because you’ll be playing against conference teams.”
Here’s a preview of the teams: 

The men’s soccer team, with seven returning players, has charged into the season at 6-2, despite a coaching change that saw the departure of former head coach Tim O’Donohue. O’Donohue racked up a 155-20-22 record over a decade with the Ducks before taking a post with University of Connecticut. Interim head coach is Harvard University assistant, Devin Rensing. He’ll be helped by returning assistant, Ben Tamberella and two recent Stevens Institute of Technology soccer alums, Nick Gkionis (2006) and Zach Carr (2011). Both played professionally after their college careers and returned to Castle Point to share their knowledge to the next generation of Ducks.
   
Men’s cross country brings back top sophomores Michael Cahill and Andrew Turnage, who helped lead the team to fourth place in the Empire 8. Four seniors, Brad Antes, Andrew Ballinger, Steven Chick and Andrew Verderame, will also return. They’re lacing up their running shoes to host the Stevens Invitational during Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 15, at Liberty State Park. 

Varsity golfers started their season early September. The program’s fifth season will look to challenge the Empire 8 this year with a mix of veterans and new players. While scoring low on the course, the team hopes to continue to score high academically. Last year’s team garnered a team GPA of 3.47. Leading the team are seniors Aaron Dennis and John Ziegler, who serve as co-captains. Head coach Joe Stahley will again be backed by assistant coach Sean Pollack, a golf pro who joined the team last spring.   

It may be a rebuilding year for the women’s soccer program, which graduated eight players in the spring. But by sticking with a long-running team mantras of ‘team first’ and ‘get better today’ returning players are expected to help make the rebuilding process easier.  Back are are Empire 8 Rookie of the Year, Bridgett Barden, and goalkeeper Kaitlin McClymont, who was among the nation’s leaders in save percentage (.867) with 117 saves. She allowed just 0.97 goals per game for a 15-4-1 record.
First-year head coach Emily Beach may be 4-4 right now but she’s looking to her three captains - senior midfielder Jillian Price, senior midfielder Mallory Swanson and junior forward Mary Nikish, to help lead the team for the season. Price has 10 goals, four assists, and 24 points over the course of her career, having an impact on the offensive and defensive side of the field throughout. The Ducks are looking to repeat a strong 2010 that included their third Empire 8 title in as many years.
The Stevens Institute of Technology volleyball team returned to the courts in September after one of the best seasons in school history last year. The exciting season included a 34-6 record and ninth place finish in the NCAA Division III Championships. Head Coach J.J. O’Connell looks to build off last year’s squad that tied the second-most wins in school history with its 34 win record but lost some key players from last year’s team. 

The women’s tennis team will take a swing at repeating its stellar performance last year that included reaching the Empire 8 tournament for the fourth consecutive year and the conference championship match for the second-straight season. But this year the team would like to take it to the next level with a top spot in the Empire 8 and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
“Our ultimate goal is to win the Empire 8, but we need to focus on taking one match at a time and look to make the right adjustments along the way,” said head coach Steve Gachko. The team will face a more competitive schedule than they have in the past and will travel to the ITA and Swarthmore Invitational this year.  The events “will be good tests for us and will give us some big-match experience leading up to the postseason,” says Gachko.
The women’s team opened the season at Vassar on Sept. 3 and took third among 11 schools. The team boasts a mix of vets including sophomores Katie Castroaugudin, Laura Lemke and Kelly Freed and newcomer, freshman Christine Hecker. The women's cross country team will host the Stevens Invitational with the men's team October 15th at Liberty State Park.
Men’s and Women’s Swimming  The aquatics team has a new assistant coach with Sarah Woodbury, who joined the team in the summer and will “have her hand in all aspects of the nationally-ranked men’s and women’s swimming programs including training, practice, planning and travel,’ says head coach Trevor Miele.  “Sarah brings a wealth of experience, passion, and energy to our programs,” says Miele. “We all are extremely excited to have her on staff.”