With volleyball’s loss in the first round of the NESCAC championship, football and cross country are the only fall sports whose season will continue into mid-November. This season was difficult for many sports, but was marked by a few impressive high achievers, particularly football and crew. Other sports like tennis and cross country saw mixed team success, but encouraging individual results.
Field hockey and golf jockeyed for most difficult season. Missing star attacker CiCi Frattasio ’18 for the first third of the season, field hockey struggled to a 2-13 record, including an 0-10 conference record. Frattasio rebounded to lead the team with five goals, four more than the next highest scorer. Golf, meanwhile, placed last at each of its four team events. Zachary Lambros ’17, who led Wesleyan with a 163 over two days at the NESCAC qualifier, lost to all but two non-Wesleyan NESCAC golfers. Saadia Naeem ’20 was the team’s only competitor at the women’s qualifier, carding a 205 to place 38th out of 40 athletes.
Both soccer teams struggled to meet their expectations, though in different ways. Women’s soccer had a lower initial bar, after a middling 2015 campaign that ended in a 6-7-2 record and just three conference wins. This year was a marked step backwards; the team did not win a conference matchup and recorded just three wins overall, each at home against weak opponents. Men’s soccer ended 2015 with a heartbreaking overtime loss to Bowdoin in the finals of the NESCAC Championship, and had expected to be legitimate contenders for this year’s title. But the team went 1-7 over their last eight games and missed the playoffs entirely with a last place NESCAC finish.
Generally, tennis’ fall season, which takes a backseat to its spring season, is predominantly marked by individual events. Eudice Chong ’18 and Victoria Yu ’19 won the doubles portion of the women’s ITA Regional Championship. Chong was a favorite to win the women’s portion of the competition. She beat Yu for a spot in the finals but then lost to Juli Raventos of Williams. This was just the third loss of Chong’s collegiate singles career, with the first two also coming at the hands of Raventos. Chong defeated Raventos in the finals of last year’s NCAA Championships, while Raventos claimed the doubles draw, cementing the pair as the two most dominant figures in women’s DIII tennis. The men’s season was highlighted by the MIT Invitational, where seniors Mike Liu and Jake Roberts claimed the doubles draw.
“I think that the exposure to match play in the fall got the entire team even more excited for our spring dual match season,” Liu said. “We plan on using this momentum to make large leaps before our first match.”
A season after qualifying for Nationals, men’s cross country has not dominated early in the season as they may have hoped. But with a shot to qualify again at New England Regionals, they will hope to peak at the right time and at least send one runner to Nationals. Individually, the team has been led by Will Dudek ’17, who was named to the All-NESCAC second team for his 10th-place performance at the NESCAC Championship. The women have also not dominated, but did improve on their ninth-place NESCAC finish in 2015 with a seventh-place effort this year. Seniors Molly Schassberger and Caroline Elmendorf have consistently led the team, while Julia Mitchell ’19 took a big step up in her second collegiate season.
Volleyball may be the Wesleyan’s most improved fall team. Second-year Head Coach Ben Somera has proven his recruiting mettle, as a lineup dominated by first- and second-year players improved on the team’s 5-15 2015 record to secure a NESCAC playoff berth with a 15-8 record. First-years Nicole Hilton and Kaira Muraoka-Robertson led the team in kills and assists, respectively, with other first-years such as Gabby Bennett, Audrey Konow, Olivia Guidotti, Stasie Litinsky, and Mia Hogan also playing huge roles for the school’s youngest team. The young core revealed its inexperience in a first-round playoff exit, but should keep volleyball in contention for years to come.
Football has enjoyed a dominant season on its way to just its second Little Three Championship since 1970. After a season opening loss to Tufts, the team has outscored its opponents 217-43 over a six-game win streak. Their 6-1 record currently puts them at second in the conference, with one game remaining against undefeated Trinity before the NESCAC playoffs begin. Quarterback Mark Piccirillo ’19 is first among all NESCAC QBs in completion percentage and is second in passing yards. Jordan Stone ’17, Cole Harris ’18, Shayne Kaminski ’18, and Nate Taylor ’18 anchor an otherworldly Cardinal defense that has allowed the fewest point per game and yards per game of all NESCAC defenses. As one of the best outfits Wesleyan football has fielded in recent memory, the team hopes to contend for its first outright NESCAC title.
Perhaps the most successful fall team was women’s crew. Though the team’s primary season is the spring, they left nothing on the water this fall with a perfect 3-0 season. The women’s varsity eight began its season with a first-place finish out of 12 boats at the Riverfront Recapture Regatta. In its largest race of the season, it beat 27 other boats for a statement win at the Head of the Charles Regatta, its first win there in program history. The team then ended its season with a first-place finish out of 20 boats at the Head of the Fish Regatta, cementing themselves as contenders for Wesleyan’s top team of the 2016-17 school year. The men, for their part, also won the Riverfront Recapture but struggled to a 21st-place finish at the Head of the Charles. The team rebounded nicely at the Head of the Fish, though, finishing fifth out of 21.
“At the heart of this program is our head coach, Pat Tynan, who has been with Wesleyan for eight years and who has worked tirelessly to build our team to where we are today,” Ava Miller-Lewis ’17 said, a captain of women’s crew, after the team’s victory at Head of the Charles. “He has fostered an environment that values teamwork and mutual support, which is ultimately what has gotten us this win; it takes a team, and we have an amazing group of dedicated women who work hard every day. At the Charles last weekend, you could see many of the alumni who have also contributed to our success. They demonstrate all of the past years of Wes rowers who have put in immense work for this team, who have sweat, cried, and pushed through the pain of countless races. We are really excited for what lies ahead; the competition in our region is fierce and holds us to a high standard.”