Union head women’s lacrosse coach Jessica Critchlow will either be considered a genius or just plain crazy, depending on how her ambitious scheduling plans work out for the Dutchwomen.
Union faces one of the toughest schedules in the nation, with 10 teams that ended the 2009 season ranked in top-20 national polls. Four of the Dutchwomen’s first six games are on the road, and three of those four are against Stevens, Washington & Lee and Salisbury. Ranked No. 2 in the IWLCA poll, Salisbury finished No. 1 in the final LaxPower regular-season poll.
“I thought it was time for us to put the chips down on the table,” said Critchlow, whose team was 15-4 and participated in the NCAA regionals last season. “I’m a firm believer that you have to play the best teams to reach our goals, which are to win the Liberty League and get back to the NCAAs. You must challenge your players. You must put them under some pressure early, so that they will be able to react to it later on.”
Union has 10 of its 12 starters back, plus defender Maria Prendergast, who was away in France last season.
“Basically, we are playing 10 of the top 20 teams in the nation on our schedule,” Critchlow said.
“Obviously, we have a veteran team, or I might not have made this kind of schedule.”
Union opens its home season March 13 against St. John Fisher (18th in IWLCA, 20th in LaxPower) at 1 p.m. at Frank Bailey Field. The season opener is March 2 at Babson.
A total of 63 percent of Union’s games feature teams that were in the final top-20 rankings in or both of the final national polls.
Union has compiled a 30-8 record over the last two seasons, and returns all top six scorers from last spring. The Dutchmen are led by All-American junior attack Kristin Joyce, who scored 64 goals and added 21 assists for 85 points.
Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons graduate Brian Hamor and his Stonehill College basketball team will play at the College of Saint Rose today at Nolan Gymnasium. Stonehill is 15-3 overall and 12-3 in the Northeast-10 Conference. Hamor has appeared in every game this season, and is averaging 5.3 points with a team-best 21 three-pointers. His season-best performance was 14 points against Holy Family University.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s baseball team is ranked 13th in the D3Baseball.com poll and 16th in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. The Engineers are coming off a 37-13 campaign in which they set a school record for most victories in a season. RPI finished 17th in the country in the final ABCA/Collegiate Baseball poll, won the Liberty League title and advanced to the finals of the New York regional of the NCAA Division III tournament for the second straight year. RPI, led by 26th-year head coach Karl Steffen, returns 21 players from last year’s squad. Pitcher Andrew Mondo (Shenendehowa) went 11-3 with a 3.03 earned run average, and Patrick Reardon (LaSalle Institute) hit .409 on a school-record 79 hits. He had 22 doubles, a triple, 10 home runs, 133 total bases, 54 RBI and a school-record 61 runs.
UAlbany junior goalkeeper Christine Hoffman finished the 2009 season as the Division I statistical champion in two categories in field hockey. She led the nation with a 0.44 goals-against average and an .889 save percentage. Hoffman allowed just four goals while making 32 saves in 18 games. She started all 18 games. As a team, UAlbany led the country with an .824 save percentage, with Hoffman and freshman goalkeeper Kristi Troch combining for 61 saves and 13 goals allowed. The Danes also posted a Division I-leading 10.56 penalty corners per game.
Ian Drillinger and Meredith Nearpass each claimed Liberty League diver of the week honors, while Steve Schapp earned swimmer of the week honors. Nearpass was honored for the third consecutive week and fourth overall, while Drillinger was the diver of the week for the second consecutive week.
Joey Lokitis was named the Liberty League co-guard of the week, and Joseph Mason was the Liberty League co-rookie of the week in men’s basketball. Lokitis scored 20 points in back-to-back home league victories and averaged eight rebounds, while Mason scored a career-high 14 points in a win over Clarkson.
Junior guard Leah Pepe (Amsterdam) was selected the Liberty League co-guard of the week in women’s basketball after averaging 19.5 points in two victories. She scored a career-best 24 points and recorded six steals in a win over Clarkson.
Senior inside linebacker Chris Simpson was chosen Northeast Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year in football. Simpson is the third UAlbany student-athlete to win the award, joining J.T. Herfurth (2000) and Victor Camacho (2003). Simpson compiled a 3.97 cumulative grade-point average in physics. On the field, he made 58 tackles, and 4.5 tackles for a loss. He also forced two fumbles and recovered another for the 7-4 Great Danes.
Sean Halpin, Fey Adaramola, Luke Schoen and Tiffany Sprenkels were named the America East Conference track and field performers of the week. Halpin was the male track athlete of the meet at the Great Dane Classic after winning the mile in 4:08.77. Adaramola was honored for the third straight week after the senior captain won the 55-meter dash in 6.96 to qualify for the ECAC championships and break one of the school’s longest-standing records. Shoen earned his second straight conference award after winning the pole vault crown at the Great Dane Invitational by clearing 17-7. Sprenkels eclipsed the ECAC standard in the triple jump by finishing second among 28 competitors at the Great Dane Invitational with a personal-best 39-11¼.
Sophomore Vadim Yafayev (Guilderland) was named the Northeast-10 Conference men’s swimming athlete of the week after posting three first-place finishes in a pair of dual-meet victories. He won the 200-yard butterfly, the 200-yard backstroke and the 200 IM.
Austin Drexler and Justin Metzger were named the Liberty League track and field performers of the week. Drexler a sophomore, finished in the top 10 in three different events at the Wesleyan Invitational. Metzger (Shenendehowa), won his second straight weekly honor by finishing third in the pole vault at the multi-divisional Great Dane Classic.
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