With 48 letterwinners and 12 starters returning from only the third Northeast Conference team to go undefeated in league play, the defending champion University at Albany football team began spring practice Sunday with plenty of confidence.
The Great Danes will have 15 NCAA-allowed spring workouts, and will use both the Alumni Turf Field (artificial) and Mara-Tisch Field (natural) as practice sites.
UAlbany won its third Northeast Conference title last fall with an overall 8-4 record. Tailback David McCarty, from LaSalle Institute in Troy, leads an offensive unit that ranked 20th nationally in rushing at nearly 209 yards per game. Named to the Sports Network All-America squad, McCarty ran for 1,503 yards, the third-highest single-season
total in team history. He ran for at least 100 yards on eight occasions, including a career-best 247 in the championship-clinching win over Central Connecticut State.
Quarterback Vinny Esposito also returns. He passed for the second-best single-season total in program history, with 1,810 yards, and also tossed 12 TD strikes.
Right tackle Raphael Nguti
(6-foot-6, 330 pounds), center Kevin Richards (6-2, 280), from Shenendehowa, and left tackle Justin
Tougas (6-6, 308), from Queensbury, anchor the offensive line.
UAlbany lost starting kicker Jason Fralicker from its special teams and all-time leading tackler Colin Disch from its linebacking corps.
“On defense, we have to improve in the red zone,” said UAlbany head coach Bob Ford, who owns a
225-162-1 career record in 39 varsity seasons. “It’s a matter of tightening things up and being more aggressive in our approach. These practices will also allow us to identify the pass rushers and swing people on the defensive line.
“Certain elements of our run offense need to be established, and we have to become consistent in the three-step pass game. We want to review our punt returners and long snappers on special teams.”
The Danes also announced the hiring of John Allen and Eric Evans as assistant coaches and Juan Torres as director of operations. Allen will coach the receivers, and Evans will work with the tight ends.
WHAT THEY’RE DOING
u Jared Henkel of LaSalle Institute will attend Union College next season, where he will likely play baseball and football. Henkel, a three-sport captain for the Cadets, threw for 1,602 yards and 15 TD passes last season to lead LaSalle to the Section II Class AA championship. In baseball, Henkel hit .400 a year ago as a second baseman, and was a Big 10 all-star.
u Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake swimmer Bobby Brown, a senior at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, placed sixth in the 1,650 freestyle (15:43.37) and eighth in the 200 freestyle (1:41) at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships, and closes out his career as a seven-time All-American. Brown was named the New England Conference swimmer of the year after breaking conference, championship and pool records in the 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle at MIT. He was also recently named the Division III national collegiate swimmer of the week.
u The Union spring sports teams have combined for a .760 winning percentage.
u Union’s women’s lacrosse team is 5-0 to start the season for the first time since 1986. The Dutchwomen have outscored opponents, 77-34, and outshot them by a 153-99 margin. They were ranked 11th in the nation in the last IWLCA poll.
u Union senior track and field standout Andrew Krauss, who proposed a project that increases the speed of boats, is among 50 college seniors who have been awarded the Watson Fellowship, a one-year grant to graduating college seniors of “unusual promise” to study independently outside the United States. He will travel to Tonga, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia to research the development of outrigger canoes and paddles. A member of the crew team at Union, Krauss is a double major in philosophy and mechanical engineering.
u Union junior swimmer Kevin Kewin became an All-American by finishing third with a time of 1:50.53 in the 200 backstroke at the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships.
u UAlbany’ s women’s lacrosse team (7-3, 1-1 America East) has won five of its last six games. Kayla Best of Guilderland and Tee Ladouceur of Bethlehem each scored six goals in a 17-12 win over UMBC.
u UAlbany’s men’s lacrosse team (2-5, 1-0) won its America East Conference opener over Binghamton, 8-2, Saturday. The Great Danes are ranked 13th in the nation in scoring defense (6.43 pg). Junior attackman Corey Small was recently named the America East Conference’s player of the week.
u SUNY-Cobleskill freshman Brad Boice, from Cambridge, won the 400 meter dash at the Dick Shea Track and Field Invitational hosted by West Point over the weekend.
u Union’s Allison Cuozzo was named the Liberty League indoor track co-performer of the year. She was the national runner-up in the 800 meters at the NCAA Division II Championships, and broke the Liberty League record in the mile (5:11.65). She was the league’s runner of the week four times.
u Syracuse University junior
Katie Rowan, from Bethlehem, scored nine points and became the second women’s lacrosse player in program history to register 200 career points in the Orange’s 23-4 victory over Cincinnati recently.
u Ballston Spa High School graduate Colin Roy recently completed his four-year basketball career at Rochester Institute of Technology. A team captain in both his junior and senior seasons, he was also voted the team’s top defender in his sophomore and junior seasons. Roy topped the Empire 8 in assists-to-turnover ratio the last two seasons, and finished his career among RIT’s all-time leaders in both assists and steals.
u Christian Brothers Academy graduate Greg Rogowski, a junior attackman for Merrimack, set the school record for career points in leading the sixth-ranked Warriors over Queens College, 15-9, recently. Rogowski scored four goals and added a pair of assists to push his career total to 188 points.
u Navy senior lacrosse player Jordan DiNola (Ballston Lake) was named the Patriot League
defensive player of the week for the second time this season. DiNola, a defenseman, anchors a Navy defensive unit that is ranked third in the country, allowing only 4.71 goals per game.
u Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s baseball team, which won 11 of its first 12 games, is ranked 15th in the nation, according to the American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division III and D3baseball.com polls.
u RPI’s field hockey team was recently recognized as one of the top academic teams in Division III after posting a team grade-point
average of 3.37.
u SUNY-Cortland junior Jake Zanetti, from Saratoga Springs, was recently named the State University of New York Athletic Conference men’s field athlete of the week. Zanetti won his third straight pole vault title at the New York State Collegiate Track Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship. He set a Newell Field House record with a vault of 15-51⁄2 feet.
u UAlbany has appointed M.J. Engstrom as the interim head women’s volleyball coach after former head coach Kelly Sheffield accepted a job at the University of Dayton. Engstrom completed her third season as the top assistant coach last fall, when the Great Danes finished 24-10 and reached the NCAA’s second round for the first time in team history.
u Carly Andrascik, a Shenendehowa graduate who is competing for the Hamilton College field hockey team, was named to the National Academic Squad by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.
u Siena College recently earned several Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of the week awards. In tennis, Jeremy Deuel and Sarah Mayer were named the MAAC men’s and women’s player of the week, respectively, after sweeping their individual matches in Orlando, Fla. In men’s lacrosse, Ryan Duggan was named the player of the week after recording a hat trick against Loyola and adding a goal and three assists in a win over Hartford. Herbst, a goalie, was named the defensive player of the week after surrendering just eight goals in two games.
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