Manhattanville breaks through after 345 scoreless minutes vs. Eastern
PURCHASE, N.Y. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team surrendered its first goal to Manhattanville College in four matches, but the Warriors managed to extend their unbeaten streak against to four against the Valiants with a 1-1 double-overtime draw its final non-conference match of the year Wednesday night at GoValiants.com Field.
At right: Kaitlin Thibodeau
Eastern (8-7-1), which has now gone 11 consecutive seasons with at least one tie on its record, scored first on junior back Whitney Mantel's (Stamford) third goal of the season, but Manhattanville (4-11-3) answered 11:31 later on Rebecca Breve's third goal of the year.
In their final regular-season home match, the Valiants' managed their first goal against Eastern in 344 minutes and 58 seconds - since completing a 2-0 shutout of the visiting Warriors with 5:09 left in the match in 2009. The Warriors had shut out Manhattanville by a combined total of 12-0 the past three seasons.
In her ninth start of the season (seventh straight), freshman Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks) made four saves for the Warriors in limiting the opponent to one or less goals eight times. Half of the eight goals allowed by Santos this year have come in one start three weeks ago.
The first half was mostly a possession battle between the two squads, as the ball remained in the midfield for a majority of the frame. Eastern had a 3-1 edge in total shots and put the only shot of the scoreless first half on target.
The match started to open up considerably at the start of the second stanza, with both teams getting some decent chances toward goal. Coming off the bench, sophomore Kaitlin Thibodeau (Tolland) nearly got Eastern on the board in the 51st minute, but her header off a corner kick was cleared off the line by sophomore Christie Freer, who was manning the right post.
The scoreless tie remained for eight more minutes before the visitors got on the board first, when Thibodeau played a square ball to the top of the box to a waiting Mantel, who took one touch before slotting the ball into the low left corner.
But the Valiants did not go away, getting the equalizer in the 70th minute to knot the score at one. Breve and classmate Christie DeMarco played a nice give-and-go to free Breve at the left side of the box, and she managed to chip the ball over the head of Santos from a very tough angle for her third score of the year.
The Valiants had a few other chances in the remainder of regulation, including an adept give-and-go between DeMarco and junior Tori Lettieri that resulted in a Lettieri shot creeping just over the crossbar in the 80th minute. But neither team could find a second goal, sending the game into extra time.
Twenty minutes of extra time saw very few chances for either side. For the match, Eastern held a 15-8 edge in total shots, with shots on goal even at five apiece.
Manhattanville is under the direction of ninth-year head coach Matt Paton, who spent six seasons as Eastern's head coach (1994-1999) and left as the program's all-time winningest head coach. Current Eastern 14th-year head coach Chris D'Ambrosio served two years as Paton's assistant coach before assuming the head spot in 2000.
Eastern closes out the regular season Saturday at home against Plymouth State University in a Little East Conference match. Unofficially, a 15th straight win against the Panthers gives Eastern the No. 4 seed and a first-round LEC playoff home match Tuesday.
Manhattanville College Sports Information contributed to this game account.
In epic match, Eastern erases two-set deficit but is edged by Conn
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team fell short in a bid to erase a two-set deficit, as Connecticut College prevailed in a fifth set which featured 16 ties and seven lead changes.
At left: Adrianna Mihalek (Photo by Haley Heslin)
Conn (12-11), coming off last year's NCAA tournament bid, defeated Eastern (13-14) for the fourth straight time in the series, this time by scores of 25-22, 26-24, 20-25, 19-25, 20-18.
After losing the first two sets, Eastern roared back to tie the match by taking the next two before Conn broke the 16th and final tie of the fifth set on a pair of kills from sophomore Gabi Taylor.
With the exception of the Camel's 9-7 lead, neither team led by more than a point in the deciding set until Taylor's two final kills which came off sets from sophomore Kaitlin Cunningham.
Taylor had five of the team's kills in the final set and did not commit an error on nine tries in the deciding set for Conn, which started a junior, four sophomores and two freshmen. The Warriors took their final lead in the final set at 16-15 on a kill from freshman Adrianna Mihalek (Woodbury). Eastern broke match point on a Conn service error that tied the match at 16-all. The Warriors survived match point twice before Taylor's winning kills on Mihalek kills that pulled the hosts even at 17-all, and then again at 18-all. Her tying kill at 18 was a cross-court attack from the left side that landed just inside the right sideline.
Taylor led a balanced Conn attack with 15 kills, sophomore Caroline Martin adding 14, freshman Chloe Ainley 11, junior Anelise Hohl nine and freshman Ella Johnson eight.
Sophomore libero Jamie Balkin handled 37 receptions with only two errors and led all players with 30 digs. Martin collected 21 digs and senior Erin Barker 15. Ainley also had three blocks and Johnson two. Cunningham had 55 assists.
Mihalek led all players in the match with 21 kills, six coming in the final set. Freshman Kay Mullen (Fairhaven, MA) followed with 13 kills and senior Nicki Gasch (New Fairfield) had 12. Sophomore libero Allie Luppi (Tewksbury, MA) received 37 serves with just two errors and led all players in the match with 31 digs. Mihalek dug up 23 balls and senior Erynn Miller (Stratford) had 20 digs and was perfect on 19 reception attempts. Junior Jess Patrizi (Beacon Falls) added 13 digs and recorded 46 assists. Freshman Amanda Tyler (Longmeadow, MA) chipped in six kills and 11 digs and commited only one reception error on 15 attempts.
Facing extinction after dropping the first two sets by a total of five points, the Warriors never trailed after the opening point in the third set, racing to a 12-4 lead and holding off the visitors' attempt at the sweep by scoring the final four points in a five-point victory. Sophomore Bry Kelly (Dunbarton, NH) stopped Conn's momentum with a kill on an overpass to make it 22-20, Eastern, and Mihalek closed it out with three straight kills.
The Warriors tied the match with the six-point triumph in the fourth set.Eastern never trailed after an attack error by Ainley knotted the set at 13-13 and Mullen's kill gave the Warriors the lead for good, 16-15. As it did in the third-set win, Eastern closed with a flourish, recording the final five points after the guests had pulled to within one, 20-19. Gasch and Patrizi accounted for two of those final five points with kills, a Conn attack moved Eastern another point closer, as did block assists from Kelly and Tyler. Tyler put away a Patrizi set to wrap up the win and force the deciding set.
Eastern hosts the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Friday at 7 p.m.
Connecticut College 3, Eastern Conn. 2
Conn College (12-11) 25 26 20 19 20
Eastern Conn. (13-14) 22 24 25 25 18
Eastern battles Bridgewater into final minutes in key LEC loss
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Senior forward Carissa Vizakis notched the game's only goal with 1:58 left in play to lift the Bridgewater State University field hockey team to a 1-0 Little East Conference victory over Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday night at Swenson Field.
Bridgewater (14-2, 9-1 LEC) extended its winning streak to a program-best 11 games. The Bears are tied for second place in the conference with UMass Dartmouth, which edged Plymouth State, 4-3, Saturday.
Eastern's (8-9, 4-6 LEC) sixth straight loss at the hands of Bridgewater muddies the conference post-season picture. Eastern entered play in a three-way tie for fifth place in the conference, but falls to seventh after both Salem State and the University of Southern Maine won their matches Saturday. The top eight teams in the 12-team conference qualify for the playoffs, which get underway with first-round games Nov. 5.
The Warriors enter the final weekend of the regular season one game ahead of Westfield State University and Worcester State University as the three times vie for the final two playoff spots. Westfield hosts Western Connecticut this Friday night, while Eastern visits Worcester State Saturday at 2 p.m.
Unofficially, an Eastern win or Westfield loss guarantees Eastern a playoff spot, but a Westfield victory Friday night and an Eastern loss Saturday would create a three-way tie for the final two spots. Losses to both Westfield and Worcester would unofficially eliminate Eastern from playoff contention.
Bridgewater scored the only goal Saturday night off a penalty corner. With the clock ticking down to two minutes, junior midfielder Jaclyn Holahan sent in a shot in from the top of the circle. The ball was deflected into the air by senior defender Olivia Galvin and Vizakis batted the ball out of the air and into the back of the net.
For Vizakis, the goal marked her team leading 15th the season and 29th of her career.
Senior Kacie Sturgeon recorded three saves to post her conference leading ninth shut out of the season and 14th of her career. Sturgeon entered the game ranked second in Division III in save percentage and eighth in goals against average.
Eastern freshman goaltender Samantha Scavo (Redding) turned aside two shots as the Warriors dropped their fifth conference match in the last six tries.
Eastern trio goes 1-2-3 for second straight year at SJC Pentathlon
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University senior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) repeated her individual title at the Saint Joseph College (CT) Blue Jay Pentathlon and was followed for the second straight year by sophomore Katie King (Barkamsted) and Macaire Jones (Danbury) Saturday at the Bruyette Natatorium.
At right: Erin McVeigh
Of the five 100 yard events, McVeigh won the butterfly (1:05.41) and freestyle (57.87), and was third in the individual medley (1:09.13) in recording the fastest composite time (5:39.56) in the five events for the second straight year. King won the breaststroke (1:11.25) and repeated in second place overall with a composite time of 5:46.28, with Jones taking third overall for the second straight year (5:46.57).
Eastern swimmers dominated by taking the top four and nine of the top 11 places in the pentathlon. First-year junior transfer Shannen Barnard (Niantic) was fourth overall (5:48.78), junior Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) sixth (5:58.67), first-year sophomore transfer Rebecca Stewart (Niantic) seventh (5:59.54), senior Michelle Schapp (Torrington) ninth (6:01.6), freshman Jessica Charron (Baltic) tenth (6:03.58) and freshaen Natalie Stepniewski (East Haven) 11th (6:05.04). Schapp, Eastern's recordholder in all three backstroke distances, captured the backstroke in a time of 1:05.34, edging Smoragiewicz by .48 seconds.
McVeigh becomes the third Eastern swimmer to claim the Blue Jay Pentathlon title as many as two times, following Sarah Barber (2006 and 2007) and Amy Arisco (2008 and 2009). Nadine Menard of Eastern captured the 2011 pentathlon championship.
A total of 40 swimmers from four institutions competed in the meet, with 26 entering all five events. Team scores were not calculated.
Eastern hosts Western Connecticut State University Nov. 9 at noon in its home-opener.
Eastern drops four-set decision to Plymouth, bounces Bates in four
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's volleyball team wound up its Little East Conference season with its fifth loss against Plymouth State in the last six outings Saturday afternoon at Foley Gymnasium, but rebounded for a non-conference victory over Bates College.
At right: Kay Mullen
The Warriors, unofficially, will be the No. 5 seed in the LEC playoffs which get underway Nov. 5 and would visit the No. 4 seed in the first round. Plymouth maintained a share of second place in the conference behind unbeaten leader UMass Boston.
Plymouth attacked at .312 against Eastern and the Warriors commited ten service errors in the Panthers' 25-15, 24-26, 25-22, 25-21 wins. Senior Nicki Gasch (New Fairfield) and freshman Adrianna Mihalek (Woodbury) combined for half (26) of Eastern's kills and both attacked at .278. Sophomore Allie Luppi (Tewksbury, MA) had 16 digs and Mihalek 11 and Gasch contributed two block assists.
Kaitie Sylvia had 13 kills and a .417 attack percentage for Plymouth, Jana Nieman adding ten kills. Mikki Taffe had nine kills and a .300 attack percentage and Kaitlyn Tedeschi seven kills and a .389 attack percentage.
The Warriors followed the LEC loss to Plymouth with a four-set victory (8-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21) over Bates College, which then rebounded to take Plymouth in four. Against Bates, freshman Kay Mullen (Fairhaven, MA) had ten kills with a .318 attack percentage, Mihalek led the way with 12 kills, junior Jess Patrizi (Beacon Falls) 30 assists and Luppi 15 digs.
On the afternoon, Mullen had 19 kills and a .441 attack percentage, Mihalek 24 kills, and Gasch 22. Luppi collected 31 digs, Mihalek 17 and Patrizi 14 digs and 56 assists.
Eastern hosts Connecticut College Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Camels are ranked 12th in New England.
Plymouth State U. 3, Eastern Conn. 1
Eastern Conn. (12-13, 3-4 Little East) 15 26 22 21
Plymouth State (14-13, 4-1 Little East) 25 24 25 25
Eastern Conn. 3, Bates College 1
Eastern Conn. (13-13) 8 25 25 25
Bates (10-15) 25 18 22 21
For second time in three years, UMD spoils bid for unbeaten LEC season
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - For the second time in three years, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has spoiled Eastern Connecticut State University's bid for an unbeaten Little East Conference men's soccer season.
Saturday, junior Josh Chao delivered the decisive strike off a free kick in the 54th minute to lead UMass (10-5-0, 5-1-0 LEC) to a 1-0 victory over Eastern (9-3-4, 4-1-1) at Cressy Field that vaulted the Corsairs ahead of the Warriors into first place in the conference with one regular-season conference contest remaining.
In the final regular-season conference match in 2011, homestanding UMass pinned an identical 1-0 loss on Eastern, which was attempting to finish its conference season with a perfect 7-0 record. Until Saturday, that loss had been the last one sustained by Eastern in conference regular-season or playoff competition. The Warriors had gone 16 matches unbeaten in the conference until Saturday en route to two LEC regular-season and playoff championships.
Next Saturday, Eastern visits Plymouth State University (1-3-2 in the LEC) and UMass Dartmouth visits Western Connecticut (1-3-2 in the LEC) in the final regular-season conference matches. Eastern has won or shared the conference regular-season title four times in the last six years. UMass is searching for its first-ever regular-season championship and has lost in the LEC playoff finals to the Warriors both last year and in 2009.
Senior Adam Philbin generated the eventual game-winning rush with a strong push down the left flank, forcing a Warrior defender to earn a caution to prevent a breakaway. On the ensuing free kick, Chao bent his attempt around the visitors' wall and into the left corner of the net to provide the hosts with a lead they would not relinquish. It was Chao's third game-winning goal of the season and eighth overall.
Eastern created its best scoring chance in the eighth minute as senior Mitch Power (Douglas, MA) fired a shot that forced the UMass Dartmouth keeper to make a diving save towards his right to keep the match scoreless. Senior Victor Ferreira nearly sent the Corsairs into the halftime intermission with a one-marker advantage, when he struck the right post in the 21st minute.
Eastern appeared to have tied the match in the final minutes after scoring off a throw-in, but the Warriors were ruled to be offside on the play.
The UMass Dartmouth defensive quartet of Chao, freshman Georges Tenie, sophomore Karim Fernandes and junior John Macaroco held the Warriors to eight total shots, including just four on net. The Corsairs did not allow their visitors to attempt a shot for the first 29 minutes of the second stanza.
The top four teams in the final regular-season standings qualify for the LEC playoffs. The semifinals are scheduled for Nov. 6. Eastern, UMass Dartmouth and Keene State College are guaranteed playoff slots, with UMass Boston and Rhode Island College contending for the final spot. Those two teams meet Saturday in Providence, RI, with Rhode Island College needing a victory to make the playoffs.
The shutout was the third in the last four contests for Eastern, which was outshot 19-8 by the Corsairs in dropping to 2-2-3 away from home this fall. Eastern freshman Greg Walton (Brunswick, ME) made six saves. Freshman Luis Carranza of UMass, who has split time this year with freshman Andrew Deane in goal, made four saves for his first full career shutout, seventh this season by the team.
Warriors catch UMass Dartmouth for fourth place in conference with 1-0 victory
MANSFIELD, Conn. - Senior midfielder Tamar Merheb (Bethel) scored her first goal in a month and senior back Megan Godwin (Manchester) contributed her first assist since her freshman season to lift the Eastern Connecticut State University women's soccer team to a 1-0 Little East Conference verdict over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Saturday afternoon at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
At right: Senior back Megan Godwin contends with UMass midfielder Tori Pierce Saturday in the Warriors' 1-0 LEC win. (Photo by Haley Heslin).
In a match which featured minimal scoring chances by either team, Eastern (8-7-0, 3-3 LEC) gained a share of fourth place in the conference standings with UMass Dartmouth (10-6-1, 3-3 LEC) by extending its unbeaten streak against the Corsairs to 18 (17-0-1) since 1995.
The Warriors close out the conference regular season Saturday by hosting Plymouth State University (1-5 in the LEC), while UMass Dartmouth hosts Western Connecticut State University (currently 4-1 in the LEC prior to Saturday afternoon's home contest with Keene State College) Saturday.
The top six teams in the final conference standings qualify for the LEC playoffs which get underway Nov. 5. The top two seeds gain first-round byes, while the No. 3 seed hosts the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed hosts the No. 5 seed.
Less than three minutes after sending a prime scoring chance over the crossbar from 12 yards, Merheb recorded her first goal of the year since Sept. 25 when she corralled Godwin's short volley from the middle of the box, and sent a high shot over the head of UMass senior keeper Michelle Miller inside the right post in the 29th minute.
The 1-0 decision is the fourth straight and ninth this season for Eastern, which has won five times by that score. UMass Dartmouth has been shut out in its last five losses, four of those matches ending in a 1-0 decision.
Eastern freshman Chelsea Santos (Windsor Locks) was not tested in recording her fifth shutout in nine starts. She lowered her goals-against average to 0.87. Santos' only save was an easy one and came seven minutes after Merheb's go-ahead goal on a bouncing shot by junior forward Maura Gonsalves - the Corsair's second-leading scorer.
Eastern's starting defense of Godwin, junior Whitney Mantel (Stamford) and sophomores Alyssa Valenti (Tolland) and Gia Karahalios (South Windsor) limited the Corsairs' three double-digit scorers to four shots, only one of which was on goal. UMass was also limited to one corner kick in each half.
Other than Merheb's two chances, Eastern's only legitimate chance at scoring came midway through the first half on a play off a corner kick by senior midfielder Nicole Leonard (Rutherford, NJ). Freshman Hailey Lehning (Woodbury), who shares the Eastern scoring lead with Leonard, had the ball on her foot at the right post, but it was cleared out of danger by the UMass defense before she could get a shot off.
The Corsair's most dangerous scoring bid came with ten minutes left in the first half when senior midfielder Jillian Van Ness took the ball away from an Eastern defender in the Warriors' defensive third. She then made a crossing pass to junior forward Shelby Friedland - who had entered the match just minutes early. Alone in the middle of the box, Friedland had an open goal with Santos on the left post, but she slid the shot just wide of the right post.
Despite substantial losses, Warriors aiming high again in 2013-14
At left: Michelle Schapp
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Many of the faces which propelled the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team to its highest New England finish ever last year have changed, but the goals remain the same as the Warriors approach their 18th intercollegiate season Saturday at the Saint Joseph (CT) Pentathlon.
Last year, Eastern capped an impressive season with its highest finish ever (second) at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) Championships, where 11 individuals combined to earn All-New England honors 42 times.
For the second straight regular season, the Warriors won eight of nine dual meets and matched their highest finish ever (second) at the Little East Conference Championships in early December.
The individual losses from last season were extensive and include 13 of last year's 21 letterwinners who had combined to contribute 18 of those 42 All-New England medals.
At right: Erin McVeigh
However, the cupboard is not bare for 18th-year head coach Maureen Fahey (127-71-2 record) and long-time assistants Amy Golas and Bill Hassell. A strong nucleus of ten individuals - nine of them letterwinners -- returns and includes senior fourth-year participants Michelle Schapp (Torrington) and Erin McVeigh (Windsor), as well as junior Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) and sophomores Katie King (Barkhamsted) and Macaire Jones (Danbury).
That quintet will be supported by five additional returnees: senior Vic San Pietro (Stratford), juniors Abby Arisco (Wallingford), Shannon Coleman (Plantsville) and Katie Dulz (Windsor), and sophomore Sarah Froehlich (Woodstock).
Dedication of part-time coaches makes program special
By Brent Pelella / Sports Information Staff
Maureen Fahey (at left) didn't know that when she took the opportunity to start the Eastern swim team in 1996 that she would be walking into a life-changing relationship. Not as just a coach, but as a teacher, friend and mentor to so many student athletes.
Fahey left the incalescent climate of the University of Tampa, where she was a reigning All-America, to come back to her home state of Connecticut at Connecticut College. Four years later she began a program that presented her with two people - her current long-time assistant coaches - who have had such an impact here they still haven't left.
Amy Golas came to Eastern as a swimmer in 1999 and graduated as one of the most celebrated performers in the program's 18-history, "Amy was the best swimmer to go through here, and hopefully a future (Eastern) Hall of Famer," Fahey remarked. "Having her go through that experience, and then wanting to be an assistant afterwards meant the world to me."
At left: Assistant coaches Amy Golas and Bill Hassell.
Their bond has developed over the last ten years along with a resilient notion of trust and companionship. Their third wheel comes in the form of ninth-year head coach Bill Hassell, who graduated from UConn where he was remarkable in his own right. As a former New England champion, "CB" (Coach Bill) brings decades of education as a classroom instructor and swimming expert.
As a staff, these three storied athletes run the pool as one, "We all carry the same amount of responsibility," Golas said. "We trust Maureen's leadership, but she also gives us the utmost freedom to express how we feel."
Incredibly, each member of the coaching staff is employed on only a part-time basis at Eastern. While Hassell has retired from his fulltime duties as a teach and coach, Fahey works fulltime in the private sector in Hartford, and Golas is a fulltime middle school english teacher in Hebron.
With much respect to Fahey, it's hard to consider her the sole head coach and she attests to that as well, "Amy and Bill are just as much head coaches as I am... I just get the blame when negative situations happen," she joked.
The dedication they portray to get their unit ready for the season is uncanny. Their preparation requires different aspects to be covered by each individual. Hassell generally covers morning workouts, where as practice the other two usually devises practice plans.
As a result, their teams have escalated their level of devotion and expectations to an elite platform, "To be a part of this program, teaching Coach Fahey's philosophies is a dream come true," remarked Golas. "Every year our team gets better and its so satisfying to see the records on the wall being broken year in and year out."
The dedication of the staff is not lost on the program's current or former swimmers, however.
"All three of the coaches are very commited to us," says current junior Kayla Smoragiewicz. "They're all very dedicated and they all want the best for us. They get super excited when they see us beat our times. They develop such a close connection with us throughout the years, and that's why they love it when they see us coming back every year," she added. "Coach Fahey makes it clear to us from the beginning that she wants to be someone that we can go to, not only for swimming, but for school and in our personal lives. She has a busy schedule, but she still dedicates all of her time to us and makes herself available, which all of us are very grateful for."
"We've gotten a lot closer as a team (recently)," noted Smoragiewicz as she surveys a 2013-14 roster which is devoid of many of last year's marquee names. "We feel like we're going to have a great season. We've been working really hard, and we're excited for (the season-opener).
In addition to swimming to All-New England honors a total of seven times last year, Schapp holds all three backstroke records, is a member of all five record-setting relays and shared last year's award as Eastern's Individual Sport Athlete-of-the-Year; McVeigh was a six-time All-New England performer in the freestyle and relays last winter, and Smoragiewicz achieved All-New England status as a sophomore five times in the backstroke and relays.
King attained All-New England distinction five times as a freshman in the breaststroke, individual medley and relays, set two breaststroke records, won the 100 breaststroke at the conference meet and was selected Eastern's Individual Sport Rookie-of-the-Year; and Jones gained All-New England status with the 400 medley relay, and posted the fastest time last year in the 50 free, the second-best mark in the 100 freestyle, and third-best time in the 200 freestyle.
In addition to the returnees, the roster will be bolstered by two transfers among the eight newcomers: junior Shannen Barnard (Niantic) and sophomore Rebecca Stewart (Niantic). Barnard swam two seasons on conference championship teams at Division II Southern Connecticut State University and Stewart spent last year at Keene State College, where she helped the Owls to the Little East and NEISDA championships. Both transfers swim the individual medley. Barnard will also contribute in the breaststroke and Stewart in the distance freestyle.
"The girls that we lost were very good, but we're fortunate for the new girls that we got," said Smoragiewicz. "They all do really well in numerous events and seem to fit in really well. They have been working really hard in practice," she adds. "They're definitely going to be an important addition to the team."
Among the newcomers this season are four true freshmen of whom Smoragiewicz and her teammates are expecting great things.
"All of the freshmen have come in with swimming experience and all of them will contribute in some aspect and will win points for the team," she says.
In all, the Warriors return their top two swimmers from a year ago in the 50 freestyle and 50 backstroke, three of their top four in the 100 and 200 freestyle and 200 butterfly, five of their best six in the 50 butterfly, the top four and five of the top six in the 100 butterfly, and four of their most accomplished six in last year's 100 individual medley.
This year's seniors have experienced only four dual-meet losses in three years: three to Keene State and one to Bridgewater State University.
Without Keene on the regular-season schedule for the first time in 17 seasons, Eastern has set an undefeated season an attainable - albeit difficult - goal, along with a fifth consecutive Top 5 finish in the NEISDA meet in mid-February.
"As a team, we'll be trying for an undefeated (dual meet) season, so we'll see how that goes," states Smoragiewicz. "It's definitely going to be difficult with a (20 percent) smaller roster than last year, but we still think that we can do it. We'll also be trying to place as high as we can in the New England meet. Last year, we did a really great job with that, and we're trying to do just as well this year."
At last year's Saint Joseph Pentathlon title, McVeigh, King and Jones placed 1-2-3 in the competition, where Eastern swimmers captured eight of the top ten spots. Two weeks after the opener, Eastern hosts Western Connecticut State University in the first of only three home dual meets. The conference championships are slated for December 7 at UMass Dartmouth, and the NEISDA Championships - hosted by the University of Rhode Island Feb. 14-16, close out the season.
Men and women rounding into shape as Little East meet approaches
By Matt Sinkewicz / Sports Information Staff
Eastern Connecticut State University's men and women's cross-country teams ran at the Western New England University Invitational Saturday. Both teams ran extremely well, the women placing sixth in a field of 22 and the men ninth out of 18 teams.
The five scoring runners for the women were junior Kelly Labanara (Chaplin) - who has led the team at the finish in each race this season and placed in the top five percent Saturday -- freshmen Mariah McPhee (Bristol), Sofia Amaral (New Milford), and Julie Trifone (Cheshire), and junior Alexandra Maciolek (Ellington).
The top five runners for the men were first-year sophomore transfer Taylor Flynn (Old Saybrook) - the team's pace-setter once again -- freshman Joe Rainville (Montville), senior Evan Glaude (East Hampton), freshman Chris Burkle (Guilford), and first-year cross country runner Michael Dolde (East Hampton), a second-year junior transfer.
Second-year head coach Kathy Manizza believes that the team is hitting its peak at the perfect time. 'I think they're all peaking just in time for (Little East Conference Championships Nov. 2). I'm excited. I think we'll have a good day (at the LEC Championships)."
Injuries have plagued both the men's and the women's team all season. Two of the top five women, senior fourth-year participants Katie France (Portland) and Alexa Palasky (Griswold) -- were both out on Saturday. France has not competed this season, while Palasky was sideline for the second consecutive meet.
While injuries have been an obstacle, this year's schedule has been favorable. The team has had a week off between meets for the past month, and it will be another two weeks before the conference championship meet. Manizza, a long distance runner herself, planned the schedule in order to rest the team members for the most important races of the season. She believes that the weeks between races allow the team ample time to rest, but still allows the runners to train hard enough to prepare for the next race.
"Hopefully this gives everyone a chance to recover," Manizza stated, "If everyone is healthy for the conference championship, it will be the first time this season that the entire women's team runs."
McPhee, a four-year cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field letterwinner Bristol Eastern, is one individual in particular who has shown steady improvement throughout the entire season. McPhee wasn't able to train as frequently as she would have liked over the summer because of her busy work schedule. However, since the semester began, she has rounded into top shape. She started the season as the fifth runner, but has worked her way up all the way to No. 2 behind Labanara, whom she pushing for the No. spot. On Saturday, Labanara was tenth overall in a field of 190 in a time of 20:10 over the 5,000 meter course, with McPhee right behind in 16th place overall in a time of 20:27. Amaral checked in in 27th place overall, Trifone 44th and Maciolek 79th.
"I thought the whole team worked very hard (Saturday)," McPhee stated. "We all ran really well."
Flynn and Rainville ran a strong 1-2 over the 8,000 meter course, Flynn placing 32nd overall in a time of 28:21, while Rainville was 25 seconds and seven spots back. Glaude was 58th overall, Burkle 73rd and Dolde 86th.