Spring spotlight

With spring sports fast approaching, here is what to look for from each program - and how the winter teams are shaping up

By on January 22, 2019

Reporting done by Bryan Murphy, Logan Reardon, Peter Dewey and Sean Raggio.

Softball

The Quinnipiac softball team will have some new faces in 2019 as they look to improve on last season’s 22-29 record which included a 9-11 mark in MAAC play. Hillary Barrow will take over in her first season as the Bobcats head coach after two years as an assistant at Florida International University. The Bobcats lost 2018 All-MAAC First Team pitcher Casey Herzog to graduation, which will put senior pitcher Kendall Brundrett in a bigger role in 2019 after she appeared in 26 games last season, pitching to a 4-9 record with a 5.34 ERA. In addition, the Bobcats will have six incoming freshmen to replace the six seniors lost from last year’s squad. They will open their season on Friday Feb. 15 against Holy Cross at the Madeira Beach Invitational in Florida. – PD

Baseball

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
The Quinnipiac baseball team is coming off a year where it finished second in the MAAC standings with a 16-8 record MAAC record and was one of the final three teams in the MAAC tourney before getting knocked out. Head coach John Delaney’s crew will have to revamp on the pitching staff, after graduating two of its top starters in ace Taylor Luciani and Brandon Shileikis, and also losing closer Mike Davis. In the lineup, the team will have to replace DH Julius Saporito and first baseman Ben Gibson, who led the MAAC in home runs (18) and was second in RBIs (57). However, not all power will be lost as senior Liam Scafariello and junior Evan Vulgamore will be back, who placed second and fourth in the MAAC in home runs, 13 and 10 respectively. If Delaney can find a couple more starters to compliment senior Tyler Poulin, this team can look to finish atop of the MAAC again. – BM

Golf

The Quinnipiac women’s golf team enters 2019 with five matches already under its belt, with its best finish coming at the Brown Invitational where the Bobcats finished in second out of 12 teams. With 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Year Alexandra Sazhin now in her junior season as well as returning last season’s All-MAAC selections Queenie Lai and Luciana Tobia-Plaza, the Bobcats will look to build on a year where they finished second in the MAAC Championship. Their first match of 2019 will take place on Feb. 24 where they will participate at the Kiawah Island Classic at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. – PD

Track and field

The Quinnipiac women’s track and field team finished its last season with a fifth place finish at the MAAC Championships. The team will have a big hole to fill after graduating sprinter Jessica Lee, who reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA in the 100m hurdles and won multiple championships at the MAAC and ECAC levels. Other star graduates include sprinter/hurdler Christina Barbaro and thrower Mackenzie Merkel, who both qualified for the ECAC tournament. Highlighting the returners is senior jumper/thrower Carly Timpson. Timpson has won the MAAC high jump all three of her years at Quinnipiac and qualified for the NCAA tournament in the high jump. Other Bobcats returning include senior sprinter/hurdler Marlo Wehrer and junior sprinter/hurdler Jillian Digiacinto. – BM

Men’s tennis

For the men’s tennis team, this season will be about finally getting past Monmouth and Marist. Monmouth has won three consecutive MAAC Tournaments, with the Bobcats falling to them in the 2016 final and then to Marist in the semifinal in 2017 and 2018. Quinnipiac lost two key seniors in Julian Rozenstein and Kyle Alper, the former of which won 102 career singles matches. Rozenstein finished his career eighth all-time in Quinnipiac D-I history for wins, while Alper finished 16th all-time with 77 career wins. As for the 2018-19 Bobcats, though, they played one MAAC match in the fall, defeating Rider 7-0. Quinnipiac has 15 non-conference matches scheduled over the next several months until its second MAAC match of the season on April 6 in Hamden. Freddie Zaretsky is the only senior on a young Bobcat squad that will feature four freshmen. Quinnipiac was tabbed to finish second in the 2019 MAAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll, sandwiched between Monmouth (first) and Marist (third). Look for those three teams to rule the MAAC this spring. – LR

Women’s tennis

Since the Quinnipiac women’s tennis team joined the MAAC in 2013-14, the Bobcats are perfect. Literally. Quinnipiac hasn’t lost a MAAC match in 37 regular season tries and 10 tournament tries. That makes 47 matches and 47 wins. Don’t expect much to change this spring, either. Quinnipiac didn’t graduate a single senior last season. None. With all of their key players coming back, the Bobcats are likely to run the table yet again. Sophomore Dominique Vasile won MAAC Rookie of the Year and MAAC Player of the Year last season, and it’s expected that she’ll only get better this year. Junior Layla Rodriguez won MAAC Rookie of the Year the season prior. Head coach Paula Miller’s dynasty is going to continue its reign for the foreseeable future. It all begins in Hamden with the home-opener against Fairleigh Dickinson on March 26. – LR

Acrobatics and tumbling

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
Quinnipiac’s acrobatics and tumbling team beat Oregon for the first time in program history last season 274.585-272.23. It went on to make it to the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association finals where it lost to Baylor 283.360-274.650. Baylor has been Quinnipiac’s Achilles heel, ending both of the past two seasons for the Bobcats short of their ultimate goal. The Bobcats lost some significant talent to graduation in the form of NCATA All-American Abby Ziser and former co-captain Jenna Adams, while bringing in 13 freshmen. Some silver-lining comes in the form of Adams returning as a volunteer assistant coach. The Bobcats will have a tough test to start their season. They first hit the mat against Oregon, where they look to keep their momentum against the Ducks going before they travel to Baylor and hope to exorcise some demons against the Bears. A key variable for this season is how long it will take for the chemistry between returning members and the freshmen to grow. The team was a cohesive unit last year, and especially with nationals at Baylor, it’s going to need to act as one. – SR

Women’s lacrosse

Quinnipiac women’s lacrosse hasn’t had a winning season since 2012 where it went 9-7. It was a top heavy team, with most of the scoring coming from Allison Kuhn (35-7-42) and Ashley Bobinski (29-20-49). The team has lost two of its top-five scorers to graduation, so this season it’s time for someone to step up. Junior midfielder Brianna Fitzgerald is going to step up for the Bobcats. She’s shown that she can score and ended the season on a hot streak, tallying 10 of her 11 goals in her final nine games. With Avery Drouin transferring, the team is going to need her to step up as the number-two midfielder behind Kuhn. With Kyle Larkin graduating after last season, the Bobcats don’t have much goalie depth. While junior Allie Kelsey played in 11 games, a jump from three her freshman year, it looks like there’s going to be some competition for the starting gig as the Bobcats bring in graduate-transfer Sami Walters from UMass. Walters went 17-2 her rookie campaign and made the Atlantic-10 All-Rookie team before seeing minimal action over the last two years. The competition in goal will be good for the Bobcats and hopefully bring some fire to a team that looks to turn things around. – SR

Men’s lacrosse

The Quinnipiac men’s lacrosse team has been in the spotlight since the fall. In the 2018 season, despite going undefeated in the MAAC regular season, the team fell in the semifinals against Canisius. Since then, the team was under investigation in the fall for violations of school conduct and was suspended for the fall/winter of 2018. Head coach Eric Fekete was relieved of coaching duties and former assistant coach Mason Poli is filling in as interim head coach. In addition, the team will need to fill the void of its 14 players that graduated last spring, which included standout midfielder Brian Feldman, long-stick midfielder Adam Bellamy and defender Riley Palmer. However, the Bobcats return four out of their top five scorers, including First Team All-MAAC selection, senior attack Foster Cuomo. Quinnipiac’s first game is Feb. 9 at UMass Lowell, and MAAC play starts in mid-March. – BM

Women’s basketball

Coming off a 28-6 season which saw it go undefeated in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play, the Quinnipiac women’s basketball team is looking to build on the success of the past two years in 2018-19. After back-to-back MAAC titles and NCAA tournament appearances, the Bobcats currently sit at 10-6 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the MAAC this season. Led by a group of five seniors including MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Aryn McClure (9.4 points per game [PPG]) and Preseason All-MAAC First-Team selection Jen Fay (11.4 PPG), the Bobcats have not lost since the calendar changed to 2019. Quinnipiac’s depth may be its biggest strength as nine different players log over 10 minutes a game. – PD

Men’s basketball

In year two under head coach Baker Dunleavy, the Quinnipiac men’s basketball team has gradually improved. After going just 12-21 in 2017-18, the Bobcats currently sit at 8-9 with a good amount of their season still to play. Quinnipiac has opened conference play 3-2. Graduate student guard Cam Young, a Preseason All-MAAC First-Team selection, is creeping toward the 1,000-point mark (currently at 950) despite only scoring his senior year and this year. He’s up to 19.9 points per game (PPG) after averaging 18.8 last year. Sophomore point guard Rich Kelly, a Preseason All-MAAC Third-Team selection, is averaging 12.3 PPG and 5.0 assists per game (APG) after missing the first five games of the season due to injury. The Bobcats are expected to get back starting center Kevin Marfo (7.4 PPG, 9.3 rebounds per game [RPG]) in the next few weeks after he partially tore his meniscus at the end of December. Quinnipiac should continue to improve as it gets healthy down the stretch (12 regular season games remaining). The MAAC Tournament in Albany is scheduled for March 7-11, and that will determine the ultimate fate of this team. – LR

 

Women’s ice hockey

The offensive struggles of last year have followed the Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team into this season. In a season where the Bobcats only averaged 1.81 goals per game, they were able to work their way to a 12-9-1 ECAC Hockey record last year, thanks to its defense and goaltending, who gave up 1.96 goals per game. This season has seen more of the same. A struggling offense, but reliant defense has lead to a 6-7-1 conference record. The statistics almost mirror last years, with 1.8 goals per game, while giving up 2.0 goals per game. Senior forward Melissa Samoskevich leads the way with eight goals and five assists, and recently tallied her 100th career point. With eight conference games still remaining, the offense will need to come alive if the Bobcats want to go further than the first round in the postseason. – BM

Men’s ice hockey

After a dismal season in which Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey recorded its first losing record in over 20 years, the team has flipped the script this year, posting a 16-5-1 overall record. Its 7-4-1 ECAC Hockey record puts them in first place in the conference and have been nationally ranked as high as No. 5. Sophomore forward Odeen Tufto has continued his dominance from his freshman year, posting 11 goals and 18 assists in his sophomore campaign. Senior defenseman Chase Priskie has been having a highlight year, as he has broke the school record for goals by a defenseman, recorded his 100th career point and has been in the front running for the Hobey Baker Award. While the new year hasn’t treated the team too well, posting a 2-2-1 record so far, the Bobcats are in prime position to make a run at an ECAC Hockey championship and a NCAA tournament bid. – BM

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