fter a full week of school, fall sports are already in full swing. Student athletes arrived early on campus to train and prepare for the upcoming season. The volleyball, tennis and soccer teams are excited to put their plans into motion and expect to be very competitive in the New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) this fall.
The volleyball team ended the weekend 2-2 at the Brandeis Invitational, posting two 3-0 wins over Rhode Island College and host team Brandeis. High expectations follow the 2013 season when the team finished runner-up at the NEWMAC, where their tournament run has ended the last three years.
With the loss of six seniors, including All-American Traci Hamanaka ’14, the young team carries eight underclassmen on its twelve-woman squad. Of these eight, the Blue introduce three talented first-year recruits: Katie Yan ’18, Eryn Halvey ’18 and Alina Mota ’18.
“While we are filling in those positions with new people this year, it allows us to create a whole new dynamic both on and off the court. It’s a new energy that’s both fresh and exciting for this upcoming season,” captain Sydney Carfagno ’15 said. The Blue return standout outside hitter Carfagno, who earned All-American honors last fall, as well as All-Conference players Courtney Lang ’16 and Caitlin Laughlin ’15.
As part of their 2014 campaign, the Blue arrived on campus for preseason with a focus on integrating new players and adjusting to different playing styles.
“It was a lot of defensive work,” Yan said. “The more you play next to someone, the better you understand how they make split second decisions and how they act defensively. We did a lot of serve-receiving and work on orienting and getting into our defensive positions, which are things that can make or break a game.”
In the upcoming season, teams to beat in the NEWMAC will be Coast Guard Academy and recent rival Springfield College. The returning champs will travel to Vassar College this Saturday on the hunt for their thirteenth Seven Sisters Championship.
The Wellesley tennis team is also enjoying a strong start to the 2014-15 fall season. First beating Endicott, a second round NCAA qualifier last spring, the Blue proceeded to compete in back-to-back matches this weekend, routing Smith 9-0 on Saturday and bringing a solid effort to No. 3, Williams, on Sunday.
Last fall, Wellesley fell to the top-seeded Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Engineers in the NEWMAC Final. However, sitting at number 28 in the national rankings, the Blue have a lot of reasons to be excited about this season’s prospects.
One reason is lone senior Sojung Lee ’15, who finished the spring season with an impressive No. 30 singles ranking. Lee also pairs with standout sophomore Carina Chen ’17 in a doubles team that’s coming off its NCAA debut last spring and boasting a national ranking of 17. Another sophomore Andjela Stojkovic ’17 was named NEWMAC Singles Player of the Week last Tuesday after her straight set singles victory against Endicott and will also will play a critical role in the Blue’s push for a NEWMAC title.
As for first years, Coach Brian Kuscher recruited three new members to the Blue’s young roster: Caroline Hsu ’18, Emily Olsen ’18 and Victoria Wu ’18. Each has already contributed singles wins that helped advance the team’s overall 2-1 record. The Blue will play in a NEWMAC Finals rematch this Saturday against MIT.
The Wellesley soccer team is picking up momentum as they improve to 3-1 after an undefeated weekend in the Soccer Without Borders Classic. Last year the Blue fell to Babson in the NEWMAC Quarterfinals, finishing with a 9-8-4 overall record and just one in-conference loss.
“Everyone who was a part of last year’s team felt shortchanged by the way the season ended. We were having a good year and we felt we deserved more. I think that has stayed with many of the players, and we hope it will serve as motivation,” Coach Tony Mohammed said. The 2014 squad includes four returning starting defenders, All-Conference goalkeeper Kat Goldsmith ’16, and six strong first years: Gen Crotty ’18, Erica Chalmers ’18, Emma Postel ’18, Shawna Dunham ’18, Zoe Matticks ’18 and Melise Knowles ’18, who made a strong first impression by scoring the double overtime game-winner in the Blue’s season opener against Bryn Mawr.
Although the integration of new players inherently changes on-field dynamics, the Blue’s commitment to a strong work ethic, leadership, communication and their “teamwork makes the dream work” mantra remain the same.
“It’s exciting because we have a lot of energy and a lot of young, strong leaders who will carry the team in a very positive direction in the future,” captain Claire Cerda ’15 said.
Teams to beat in the NEWMAC this season will be MIT, Wheaton, Springfield and Babson. Check back next week for cross country, field hockey and golf!