By Michael Mack
Fall sports are back in action and the Broncs are looking to kick off the athletic year right. The talent-heavy teams include men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s tennis, volleyball, golf and, of course, field hockey. To top things off, 2010 marks the inaugural season of the new and advanced turf field, giving the fall squads a top-notch home surface.
The field hockey team will look to continue its dominance after posting an impressive 17-2 record last season. The team will have some motivation after ending last year with a disappointing upset loss in its first postseason game and its expectations are set high right from the start, as it is picked to finish atop the conference.
On Sunday, Aug. 29, the team won its first game convincingly over La Salle, 4-1, and then shut out Colgate, 5-0, in its home opener last Saturday. Its next game will be tomorrow at Delaware.
Most of the talent is returning, as there were only four seniors on last year’s roster. Among those four, however, was starting goalkeeper Lyndsie Johnson. Johnson was a wall in the net for the Broncs and now they are left with a hole to fill. Junior Rebecca Lotito is competing for that role.
“I am working hard to take, maintain and stabilize my position,” Lotito said.
Lotito was the backup to Johnson for two years, and hopes that experience will help her succeed. She’s also set the bar high for the Broncs.
“As long as I train hard and keep trying my best I know I will succeed,” she said. “We are the NEC pick for first in the conference and I expect nothing less from our team. We have worked hard and will continue to work hard in order to achieve that goal.”
The golf team hopes to build off its strong finish last season. Last fall, the team finished in the middle of the pack for the majority of the season. In the spring, the team was up and down. However, it ended the year with a third-place finish in the MAAC championships. The team will be trying to take that experience and translate it into a winning season. Unfortunately, it will be doing so without last year’s leader, grad student Eric LeFante, who put together a brilliant final season. Its first tournament of the season will be the Rutgers Invitational in New Brunswick on Friday.
The volleyball team is preparing to bounce back after a down year. The team only lost three seniors last year and has four this year. With graduate student Alex Chapla, this team is full of seasoned players. The combination of talent and experience is at a peak for this team, and that could be its recipe for success. The team has also brought in three freshmen that it hopes will have an immediate impact. Its next game is tonight at home against Temple.
The tennis teams are in the same boat as volleyball. They will both be attempting to rebound after a disappointing season but appear to have bright futures. The men’s team lost only three players from last year’s team, while the women’s team only lost two. For the men, senior Rob Olsen will have to lead the way.
“As captain, I hope my efforts have a trickle down effect on the team to promote more engaged practices,” Olsen said. “I am excited to see how the team gels together.”
There is certainly a level of enthusiasm toward this season. The men kick off their season next Wednesday at Lafayette.
For the women, seniors Stephanie Renzo and Mallory Garbaravage will look to lead the young team. They start their year Thursday, Sept. 16, at home against Holy Family.
The cross country teams were consistently solid for most of last season. They will also bring back a strong core as they’ve only lost a combined six seniors, four on the women’s side and two on the men’s. The two young teams will be led by seniors Christian Gonzalez and Chelsea Callan. The two leaders have high hopes for this season.
“The team is looking really strong this year and we have all of our top runners returning from last year,” Gonzalez said.
Both teams’ next meet will be Saturday as they compete in the Fordham Invite.
The women’s soccer team improved greatly last season and finished strong by winning three of its last five regular season games. Last year, however, more than half the team consisted of freshmen. This year’s more experienced team, led by a small collection of seniors, will look to continue improving.
“Having every player on the team with the ability to contribute on the field is great and will definitely help us toward our goal of a MAAC championship,” senior forward Lauren Musumeci said.
The team will look to take a step toward that goal today as it travels to take on Delaware.
The men’s soccer team has also improved greatly. After losing just two seniors and most of its starters returning, this team is confident that it is still moving up.
Senior captain Jim Bradley has set lofty goals for his team.
“Returning nine starters and a lot of guys who got a great amount of playing time last year, we hope to make the playoffs,” Bradley said.
In order for the team to reach the postseason it must be one of the top four teams in the MAAC conference, a drastic but realistic goal. The next men’s soccer game will be at home on Tuesday against Mount St. Mary’s.
With a group of ever-improving teams, Rider’s 2010 fall athletic season should be an exciting one.