Middlebury Spring Sports Preview

By Middlebury Campus

Track and Field

After an indoor season which has seen numerous school records fall and a new Division III national record in the women’s distance medley relay, the Middlebury track-and-field teams look to improve on last year’s success as they gear up for the outdoor season.

Jack Davies ’13 – last year’s NCAA runner-up in the 3000-meter steeplechase – returns to lead the Panther men in 2013. Other returning men’s NESCAC champions from a year ago include sprinter Peter Hetzler ’14, hurdler Kevin Chu ’14 and the 400-meter relay team of Jason McCallum ’14, Bryan Holtzman ’14, Fritz Parker ’15 and Hetzler. The 1600-meter relay of Parker, Sam Craft ’14, Lou

Cornacchione ’13 and Patrick Rooney ’13 returns all four legs and will look to improve on last season’s runner-up finish at this year’s conference meet.

The men finished third in the NESCAC a year ago, topping conference power Williams for the first time in years.

On the women’s side, Middlebury is led by Addie Tousley ’13, who won the 5,000 meters and finished second in the 1500 meters in the conference last year. Juliet Ryan-Davis ’13 will look to defend her conference title in the 800 meters, as will Grace Doering ’13 in the high jump. The 3200-meter relay team, which finished third in the NESCAC in 2012, returns two runners in Sarah Guth ’15 and Lottie Hedden ’14.

The Panther women were also third in the conference a year ago, finishing just two points behind second-place Tufts.

After indoor NCAAs, the Panthers have a one-week break from competition before they return to racing on their spring-break training trip in California. After the break, Middlebury has a three-meet regular season before competing in NESCACs at Tufts on April 27.

— Joe MacDonald

 

Men’s Lacrosse

Coming off of a 4-9 record last year, the Middlebury men’s lacrosse team is looking forward to another shot to prove their talent to the NESCAC and return to national prominence. The team has opened their preseason with two scrimmages, most recently against St. Michael’s College.

“[The second scrimmage] was better than the first, but there is still a lot of room for improvement,” said tri-captain Johnny Duvnjak ’13.

Returning players to look out for include starting attackmen Mike Giordano ’13 and tri-captain Stew Kerr ’13. Andrew Metros ’13, Scott Redmond ’13, Erich Pfeffer ’13, Brian Ayers ’14 and Joel Blockowicz ’15 return for the Panthers at midfield, while tri-captain Billy Chapman ’13 and Darric White ’14 return at long-stick defense with Nate Gaudio ’14 in net.

“Harrison Goodkind [’16] and Sean Carroll [’16] have been very impressive at midfield,” said Duvnjack.

The team has a tough schedule this year, starting off the season on the road at Bates this Saturday, March 9. With only 14 games in the regular season, the Panthers play 10 NESCAC games and four out-of-league games in hopes to qualify for NCAA’s.

“The NESCAC, as it is in most sports, is extremely competitive and games usually come down to a goal or two,” said Duvjnak. “I don’t think we necessarily have a biggest rival, as each and every game in the NESCAC is extremely competitive.”

The men play their first home game against Springfield on Wednesday, March 13.

— Mary Claire Ecclesine

 

Women’s Tennis

The Middlebury women’s tennis team will take the court this coming weekend to start their quest for a national championship. Their first challengers are Brandeis and Trinity this Saturday, March 9. Alongside experienced assistant coach Karen Wells, last year’s ITA National Coach of the Year Mike Morgan is ready to lead his team to a successful opening weekend.

Seniors Leah Kepping ’13, Brittney Faber ’13 and DeeDee Myers ’13 will guide their fellow teammates this season. The doubles pairing of Kepping and Faber compiled a 14-4 record at the number-one position last spring. Their doubles expertise will surely help all three doubles pairings in the upcoming matches.

Lok-Sze Leung ’15, last year’s NESCAC Player of the Year and National Rookie of the Year, will take to the courts at the number one position. Dorrie Paradies ’14 and Katie Paradies ’15 also return for the Panthers. Sophomore Sarah Macy ’15 hopes to serve her way into helping the Panthers succeed.

Adding to this powerful group of girls is a stellar first-year class including Ria Gerger ’16, Margot Marchese ’16, Lauren Amos ’16 and Sadie Shackelford ’16. Gerger, who reached the finals of the ITA Regional tournament this past fall, has established herself as the fifth-ranked player in the region and will be instrumental in helping the Panthers.

“The team is chomping at the bit to finally start competing,” said Morgan.

Currently ranked six in the country, the team is hoping to climb even higher. The Panthers won’t have to wait much longer as competition begins this weekend.

— Courtney Mountifield

 

Women’s Lacrosse

The Middlebury women’s lacrosse team looks to continue their NESCAC dominance with the return of many key players from last season, along with the addition of many new talented first-years. After finishing last season 15-5, taking second place in the NESCAC Championship, and making it to the NCAA semifinals, the Panther women have a challenging road ahead of them to match and outdo last season’s success.

Middlebury will have two of three All-Americans from last year returning including Margaret Souther ’13, and Katie Ritter ’15. Souther totaled 63 points for the Panthers last season, including 39 goals and 24 assists. Ritter, who was named NESCAC rookie of the year, finished the season with a total of 42 points, consisting of 32 goals and 10 assists.

The Panthers will also return Liza Herzog ’14 who made the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Association second team, and finished the 2012 season with 35 goals and nine assists. Middlebury will look to these returning players along with the leadership of the captains and talented seniors who also include Neilie Weeks ’13, Emma Kramer ’13, Ellen Halle ’13, Michaela Colbert ’13, Alice Pfeifer ’13 and Heather Marrison ’13 for the leadership and talent needed to have a successful season.

The Panthers face a tough schedule this year given the number of games they play in the perennially competitive NESCAC, along with games against a number of talented out-of-conference teams. However, given the depth of the aforementioned Panther veterans, and the help of the talented junior, sophomore, and first-year classes, the Panthers are well positioned to take on any opponent that they face.

— Gabe Weissmann

 

Baseball

After missing out on a trip to the playoffs in the 2012 season, the Middlebury baseball team looks to improve on a 14-19 overall record and a fourth place finish in the NESCAC West Division. A strong senior class and highly talented roster promise to fill the gaps left by the loss of several key players during the postseason.

The Panthers look to be in great shape offensively despite losing two-time All-NESCAC selection and four-year staple Zach Roeder ’12. The potent lineup consists of six returning starters, including third baseman Thomas Rafferty ’13 – another 2012 All-NESCAC pick – and outfielder Alex Kelly ’14 who led the Panthers with a .387 batting average and a .432 on base percentage. Senior captains Thomas Driscoll ’13 and Michael Morris ’13 also aim to build on their powerful hitting performances from a year ago.

The pitching rotation suffered a major loss as former ace Michael Joseph ’13 opted out of his final season to sign a minor-league contract with the Baltimore Orioles back in August. Look for sophomores Logan Mobley ’15 and Cooper Byrne ’15 to respond with solid starting efforts this season backed by a deep relief staff and highlighted by Andy Dittrich ’13, the third co-captain.

“If [the team’s] strong work ethic is any indication of our future this season, then we are going to have a lot of success,” said head coach Bob Smith.

Weather permitting, the Panthers will open their season this Saturday, March 9, with a doubleheader against Bates at Endicott College.

— Chad Clemens

 

Softball

After falling short in their quest for a second straight NESCAC title last season, falling 2-1 to Tufts in the final, Middlebury softball is looking to come back stronger and more competitive for the 2013 season and to improve on their 22-16 overall record from a year ago.

With a strong returning team as well as the addition of five first-years, including three pitchers, a key to Middlebury’s season will be depth.

“We will be more competitive in weekday games this season, since we have serious depth both in our line-up and the field,” said co-captain Jessa Hoffman ’13. “The experience our returners gained from tournament play last year will guide us through playoffs this springs. We expect big plays from members of every class this year after last year’s postseason.”

Middlebury returns with five 2013 all-NESCAC players, including a Defensive Player of the Year in Hoffman, who also set a school record with 49 hits.

Head coach Kelly Bevere stresses the role of each individual player on the team this year.

“Our team overall is what’s most important, and we’re pretty interdependent,” she said. “Our four seniors will play a key role in shaping the team, but we’re looking to rely on upper and underclassmen alike.” With this new depth, the Panthers are aiming to win every game they play. Consistency, especially with regards to hitting, is another big goal for Bevere.

Middlebury starts their season with a double-header at Johnson State on Wednesday, March 13, before heading to Florida over spring break to kick off their NESCAC season.

— Alex Morris

 

Golf

While the golf course may be covered in snow, both the women’ s and men’s golf teams are preparing for their spring season in full form. Hitting balls into nets inside The Bubble has helped the women’s team maintain their technique throughout these winter months in order to be competitive with more southerly opponents.

After a great fall season, including a pair of second place finishes, the women’s team is gearing up to make improvements and build off their successful fall season.

“With three underclassmen on a team of five, we are definitely a young team,” said captain Keely Levins ’13. “But we are full of potential and are looking forward to the challenge of trying to unseat Williams as the top North Eastern team.”

Returning Panthers include Michelle Peng ’15, Jordan Glatt ’15 and Caroline Kenter ’14, while Monica Chow ’16 will be competing in her first spring season for the Panthers.

The men’s golf team is also eager to begin their spring season after a very successful fall season as they look to replicate their conference-championship season from a year ago.

The Panthers played five tournaments last year, cumulating in a finish at the NESCAC qualifier whcih was good enough for the team to qualify the team for the conference championship, which will take place in the spring.

The team’s strongest competition will likely come from Trinity and Williams. The College’s team will not feature any first-years, as they bring back a strong lineup consisting of four sophomores, four juniors, and senior captain William Prince ’13.

The Panthers have been training hard this winter, practicing in an indoor hitting area and watching video of their swings.  The women will have their first tournament on the weekend of April 13, at Vassar while the men begin a weekend earlier, on April 5 at Rhode Island College.

— Men’s coverage by Kevin Yochim, Women’s Coverage by Christine Schozer

 

Men’s Tennis

Ranked 14th in the country in the preseason poll, the Middlebury men’s tennis team will look to build on last year’s experience under the helm of head coach Bob Hansen and assistant coach Adam Kent. New faces on this year’s roster include first-years Ari Smolyar ’16, ITA Regional semi-finalist Palmer Campbell ’16, Jackson Frons ’16, Allen Jackson ’16 and Jack Welch ’16, as well as junior transfer Alex Johnston ’14. They are joined by impactful returners from the junior class: Brantner Jones ’14, Teddy Fitzgibbons ’14 and Zach Bruchmiller ’14.

“Our [first-years] continue to push the envelope and set a high bar for the rest of the team but we are now getting some strong push back,” said Hansen.

Characterized by its bench strength, the team is captained by three seniors, all of whom were starters last season, in Will Oberrender ’13, Alec Parower ’13 and Spencer Lunghino ’13.

Oberrender believes cohesiveness and work ethic are the squad’s two biggest strengths.

“We have been working extremely hard all year for the chance to show we are one of the best teams in the country,” said Oberrender.

In the first half of the season, the Panthers will take on three foes from the Northeast at home before heading to Southern California over Spring Break for 10 more matches. After that, they will stay primarily in New England for their NESCAC regular season.

The men open their regular season at home against Oneonta and Brandeis this Saturday, March 9.

— Lok Sze Leung

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Middlebury Spring Sports Preview