Fisher Athletics Finishes a Great Fall Season
The fall 2011 season was a big one for St. John Fisher College Athletics. And the College’s new sports teams – men’s and women’s cross country, and field hockey – added more excitement to the mix with their inaugural seasons.
Here is a snapshot of how each team’s season played out:
The St. John Fisher College football team made its fourth all-time appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship, defeating two undefeated conference champions in the first two rounds, before falling in the Elite 8. The trip was the Cardinals' first since 2007, earning one of just six at-large bids into the field of 32. Fisher finished the season 10-3, with a 6-1 mark in the Empire 8 Conference, and was one of eight teams left in the quarterfinals despite never having been ranked during the season.
In the first round game at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, Fisher intercepted five passes against the Blue Jays’ Gagliardi Trophy Finalist (DIII’s version of the Heisman Trophy) quarterback Hewitt Tomlin to snap the second-longest winning streak in all divisions of the NCAA with the 23-12 victory.
The next weekend, the Cardinals traveled to Doylestown, PA, to face Delaware Valley College, an unbeaten No. 1 seed. The Aggies defeated Fisher in the second round of the 2004 NCAA Championship, which was the Cardinals first NCAA appearance. The defense made sure Delaware Valley did not have a repeat performance this time around as it intercepted another four passes to grab a 27-14 win. In the quarterfinals, Fisher flew to St. Paul, MN, to face the University of St. Thomas, another unbeaten conference champion. The Cardinals fell 45-10 to the Tommies, ending their endearing run.
Fisher was honored by both the Empire 8 and d3football.com, as several players earned accolades. Thirteen players were named to All-Conference teams while Dave Vosburgh, Troy Sant, and Corey Balcerzak were named to d3football.com’s First Team All-East Region. Vosburgh and Chad Monheim were selected by CoSIDA for Academic All-America District III First Team for their efforts on the field, but more importantly in the classroom. Head Coach Paul Vosburgh earned the D3Football’s East Region Coach of the Year award.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams brought a lot of excitement to campus during their inaugural seasons, competing against established programs at a variety of invitationals throughout the state.
Men’s runner Cohen Miles-Rath stole the headlines in the Cardinals’ first season, winning the Empire 8 Conference Championship, where he was named Runner and Rookie of the Meet. After earning just one of seven bids to represent the Atlantic Region at the NCAAs, the Empire 8 named Miles-Rath its Runner and Rookie of the Year. The freshman finished 122nd out of 560 runners in the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Women’s runner Allie Schillinger also garnered honors from the conference, as she was named Fisher’s representative for Sportswoman of the Year.
Both teams competed in the NCAA Atlantic Regionals at St. Lawrence University on November 12th. The men's team finished in 27th place overall, while the women's side combined for a 31st place finish.
The women’s soccer team finished 2011 with an 8-9 recording, earning the No. 4 seed in the Empire 8 Conference Championship. Fisher lost to Stevens Institute of Technology in the semifinals by a score of 3-1. The Cardinals held a 1-0 halftime lead during the semifinal game but were unable to hold off the Ducks in the second half. It was the second time the Cardinals have advanced to the postseason in the past three seasons.
Fisher was led by sophomores Alexandra Rohloff and Chelsea Oberkrieser. Rohloff lead the team in goals (7) and points (16), while Oberkrieser tallied 6 goals, 3 assists, and 15 points. Laura Burgstrom and Val Hanson each chipped in with three goals. Fisher’s goalies Jessica Plukas and Noel Peck split time between the pipes and combined for seven shutouts.
The Cardinals will look to build upon their 2011 success with their young players, and will lose just one senior to graduation.
The men’s soccer team finished the 2011 season with a record of 3-10-3. The most notable game this season occurred when Fisher battled SUNY Geneseo to a 2-2 tie on the first ever soccer game to take place at the new Polisseni Track and Field Complex.
The Cardinals’ leading point scorer was Garhett Varin, who produced two goals and two assists. Junior goalie Kyle Metcalf finished with a 1.62 goals-against-average.
Fisher will look to get back to the postseason as it prepares for the 2012 season. With only three seniors graduating, the Cardinals are a very young squad that will aim higher next season as their chemistry develops.
The Fisher women's golf team ended its season finishing in third place at the Nazareth Invitational in mid-October, shooting a two-day total of 785. The team was led by Alex Battle and Ceilia Fitzgerald, who finished tied for third. This placement was one of the best of the team’s overall season. They will hit the green again in March 2012.
The men’s team made headlines this fall, making its way onto a national poll for the first time in the season. Previously unranked, the Cardinals were listed Number 13 in the most recent Golf World/Nike Golf Division III College Coaches’ Poll. The team ended their fall season with a first-place finish at the Nazareth Invitational, with a team score of 623. They won three of the four tournaments they competed in this fall, bringing them to first-place in the Empire 8 Championships, which will be completed during the spring season.
The women’s tennis team finished the 2011 season with a record of 6-6 (4-3), earning the No. 4 seed in the Empire 8 Conference Championship before falling to Stevens Institute of Technology in the semifinals. It was the first postseason appearance by the Cardinals since 2006.
Fisher was led this season by its doubles play. It won at least two doubles matches in 5-of-11 regular season contests. The doubles duo of Jordan Brungard and Kathryn Pasier teamed up to finish 8-2 (5-1) at the second doubles spot. The two received Empire 8 Second Team All-Conference accolades for their play.
Senior Elena Vahl was named to the All-Conference First Team for her 8-3 (6-2) record at first singles. Marissa Rotondo tallied a 5-7 record for doubles play, while Jennifer Lehner was 4-7 in doubles.
Brungard, Vahl, and Rotondo were all huge contributors who will be missed when each graduates this May. Pasier will be relied on heavily to carry the rest of this young squad as the Cardinals look to maintain their winning conference record and get back to the postseason.
The men’s team’s final match of the season was against the University of Rochester, and the Cardinals were shut out by the Yellowjackets 8-1. They will return to the courts in the spring season.
The field hockey team finished its inaugural season with an overall record of 2-15. Fisher got the program’s first victory in just the third game of the season after defeating Susquehanna University 3-1 behind Caitlin Allen’s goal and assist while Marissa Vedella’s goal marked the Cardinals’ first ever score. The team progressed all season long, defeating SUNY Morrisville 3-1 and holding Utica College, the Conference Champion, to just two goals during a loss in the final game of the season.
Three members of the team were honored by the Empire 8 Conference for their efforts this season. Vedella was named to the All-Conference Second Team, while Allen earned Honorable Mention All-Conference honors. Michaela Guzzi was named as Fisher's representative for Sportswoman of the Year. All three are freshmen.
The volleyball team culminated the 2011 season with a record of 20-13, advancing to the Empire 8 Conference Championship for the third time in the past four seasons as a No. 3 seed. The Cardinals were defeated in the semifinals of the tournament by eventual ECAC champion Elmira 3-2(25-18, 24-26, 25-13, 20-25, 15-12).
Fisher received phenomenal production out of two of its seniors, Becca Smith and Amy Street. Smith finished with 384 kills, good for sixth in Fisher single-season history. Smith, who was named to the All-Conference First Team, propelled herself into second-place all-time in kills (1,289), third-place in digs (1,796) and fifth in service aces (168).
Street, who earned All-Conference Second Team honors, finished second in the Empire 8 Conference this season with 1,173 assists. She will graduate with 2,703 assists, good for fourth in Fisher history.
Sophomores Rachael Kline and Mandi Mereness received Honorable Mention All-Conference accolades.
While the Cardinals will miss Street and Smith, they will return 10 of 13 letterwinners.
Other Athletics News
In September, the College announced that it had hired Linda Michele as the new women's lacrosse coach. Michele came from The College of Brockport after transforming their program in just two years. In her first season, she guided the Golden Eagles to the program's first NCAA appearance, ultimately ending in the quarterfinal round. Brockport, which won just five games in 2009, went 13-4 in 2010 and advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship for the first time in the program's history, with Michele being named the 2010 NCAA Division III Coach of the Year.
Prior to Brockport, Michele served as the head coach at East Rochester High School, where she compiled a career record of 160-40. Over 13 seasons, she guided the team to four Section V Championships and three New York State Final appearances. The East Rochester native also coached at the Albany Girls Academy from 1990 to 1996, where she finished with a 78-14 record.
Michele will be the fourth women's lacrosse coach since the program's inception in 2000.
And on November 21, the College announced that it hired Tom Webb to be the coach of its newest athletic programs, men's and women's rowing.
For the past two seasons, Webb has served as the head coach of the SUNY Geneseo Crew Club, where he led the squad to a fifth-place showing at the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta. Prior to Geneseo, he served as the co-head coach for Skidmore Community Rowing in the fall of 2008. During that time, the Rochester native also served as athletics intern with the Skidmore College crew team.
Webb also has experience working with Pittsford Crew, the home team of Fisher's training location, the Pittsford Indoor Rowing Center. During the 2009-10 season, he served as the men's and women's assistant coach and the following season took over as the men's head coach.
A member of US Rowing, he will be continuing his work with Pittsford Crew, serving as the men's co-head coach for the junior rowing program.
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