Each year it is the pleasure of the sports section’s editorial staff here at The Student to gauge the ‘stock’ of Bates’ athletic teams. Below is our expert analysis of whether this year’s fall teams have stock that is ‘up’, ‘down’ or ‘even’, as well as predictions for the year.
The volleyball team had an exciting year in 2015, qualifying for the NESCAC conference championship for the first time since 2008. This season, a return to the postseason is a serious possibility once again.
This year’s team has a quartet of returning seniors. Hitters Chandler McGrath ‘17, Maggie Paulich ‘17 and Nicole Peraica ‘17, and setter Hannah Tardie ‘17 all will look to aid second year coach Melissa DeRan in their pursuit of another conference championship. McGrath was fourth in the NESCAC last year with 286 kills, and will be the team’s go to player on offense, while incomers Gabi Eustache ‘20, defensive specialist, and Taylor Stafford-Smith ‘20, hitter, will make immediate contributions on the court.
This year’s team will repeat last season’s showing, and squeak into the postseason as the seventh or eighth seed, but do not expect a cinderella run.
In 2014, the Bates field hockey team finished their conference schedule a flat 0-10. But last year, the team’s stock was on the rise, finishing 3-7 in conference while recording signature victories away at Wesleyan and Colby. This mark helped the team qualify for the conference tournament for the first time since 2010.
Much of this improvement can be attributed to the leadership of head coach Danielle Ryder, who is beginning her fourth season this fall as the field hockey coach at Bates. Often, when coaches reach their fourth and fifth years at a program one sees a tipping point in terms of team culture and success. That is the window when a coaches recruits become upper-class players and begin to lead and perform in the way the head coach recruited them to do so.
In the case of Ryder’s team this year, her roster is made up completely of her own recruits as there are no seniors on the roster. Look for this year’s team to continue their upward trend, tallying four-plus wins in conference and making a run in the postseason.
Each year, the NESCAC features some of the highest quality Division III soccer in the country. The last two men’s Division III national champions (Tufts in 2014, Amherst in 2015) have both come from the NESCAC. It is against this level of competition that the Bates men’s soccer team, year in and year out, match up against.
During the 2015 season, the men’s soccer team put together their first winning season in recent memory. Finishing 7-5-3, the team went undefeated in their out of conference matchups, a perfect 5-0. Last year’s team was anchored by goalkeeper Sam Polito ‘16, who led the NESCAC with 94 saves in conference and recorded seven shutouts on the year, and captain Noah Riskind ‘16 who stabilized the backline in front of Polito.
The 2016 edition of the Bates Men’s soccer team is returning three time team golden boot award winner Peabo Knoth ‘17, who has 17 career goals for the Bobcats entering the 2016 season, last year’s most-improved player and team captain Luke Mcnabb ‘17, and defender Jack Martell ‘17, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. The team will look to Robbie Montanaro ‘19 to replace Polito in goal, and incoming striker Eric Opoku ‘20 to complement Knoth up front. That being said, This year’s team will finish with a worse overall record than last year, but will sneak into the final eight of the NESCAC standings for a berth in the conference tournament for the first time since 2010.
Last year, the women’s soccer team qualified for the NESCAC conference tournament for the first time since 2010, finishing the season with an impressive 4-3-3 conference mark, good enough for fifth place. They dropped their quarterfinal matchup with Trinity, but the team finished the season 7-6-3 overall, and head coach Kelsy Ross received NESCAC coach of the year honors.
A repeat performance is possible for this year’s team, but their grueling NESCAC schedule won’t do them any favors as six of their ten conference matchups are on the road. They will have to rely on steadfast leadership from captains Erin Shea ‘17 and Allison Hill ‘17. “We really want the team to continue off our success from last season. NESCAC playoffs are always our primary goal of the season and anything beyond that is bonus,” said Hill in an email.
This year’s team graduated just six seniors, and are returning 2nd team all-NESCAC players in Hill and Olivia Amdur ‘19, but will be challenged by their road schedule, and will just miss the top eight in the NESCAC.
Men’s Cross Country
Allen Sumrall ‘16 traveled to Wisconsin last fall to compete in the NCAA Division III championships. Finishing 31st out of 278 runners, Sumrall became the 14th All-American in Bates cross country history. This star runner will be sorely missed on the 2016 team. However, the good news is that the team will return five players from last year’s top seven, including captains Joe Doyle ‘17, Evan Ferguson-Hull ‘17 and Mike Horowicz ‘17. And do not sleep on James Jones ‘20; the first year has already made a big splash as a newcomer with a pair of top five finishes.
After losing to Colby in their first meet, Bates came in first out of four teams in the super XC shootout this past weekend. The field included the number 18 ranked team in the country, Tufts. Jones lead the way for the Bobcats, finishing in fourth place overall.
Men’s Cross Country will certainly feel the absence of Sumrall, but with most of their top seven back, the addition of Jones, and a promising result at the Super XC Shootout, the team may be able to make it back to the NCAA championship meet.
Women’s Cross Country
Women’s Cross Country ended their 2015 season with a disappointing 12th place finish at NCAA Regionals. The team now has a chip on their shoulder and a bad taste in their mouth heading into the 2016 campaign. Coach Hartshorn explained in an email that she is confident the team will fare better at this year’s regionals, and she has good reason to believe this. The team returns top runners, Jessica Wilson ‘17 and Katherine Cook ‘18 who are poised to frequent the top of the leaderboard for most of the season. Other returners include Molly Chisholm ‘17, Mary Szatkowski ‘17, and Sarah Rothmann ‘19.
The team opened their season with a dominating 80-30 win in the annual wave race against Colby. Wilson Paced the Senior/Sophomore race with a 14:41 finish. Cook and Szatkowski tied for first in the Freshmen/Junior race with identical times of 15:36.
The Bobcats followed this performance with a second place finish at the Super XC Shootout. Wilson and Cook finished first and second respectively, but Tufts’ (first place) dense pack proved to make the difference.
Assuming the team continues to perform up to their potential, Women’s Cross Country will place in the top ten at regionals and earn an NCAA championship bid.
Here’s the bad news: The Bates men’s Golf team finished in 20th out of 22 teams in last year’s New England Intercollegiate Golf Association Championships. The good news is that there is nowhere to go but up, especially after losing zero players to graduation.
Matt Marcus ‘18, Alex Stekler ‘17, and Brad Rutkin ‘18 are poised to lead the way for the underdog Bobcats. Marcus tied for sixth place at the Maine State Championship this past weekend, earning All-State honors. Keep your eyes out for Joey Sallerson ‘19. Sallerson had a tough time adjusting to the college level last season, but he is definitely someone who has the potential for a breakout season. In his first official tournament as a Bobcat at the Maine state championships, Sallerson finished in 14th place with a 156. Andrew Garcia-Bou ‘20 is also a newcomer that will add to the group.
This year’s team will certainly make a jump from last season, but still has a way to go before being able to compete with the top teams in New England.
Bates football finished last season with a 14-0 loss, concluding their season with a 2-6 record. However, the Bobcats were able to capture the 2015 CBB title by defeating both Bowdoin and Colby.
The 2016 season begins September 24 against Trinity College. Linebacker Mark Upton ‘16, who received first team All-NESCAC honors last season, headlines the defense along with Defensive Back Trevor Lyons ‘16.
On the offensive side of the ball, Peter Boyer ‘19 will get the start at running back against Trinity. Boyer’s classmate, Sandy Plashkes ‘19, will play quarterback. Marcus Ross ‘19, Brian Daley ‘18, and Frank Williams ‘18 look to be Plashkes’ favorite targets this season. The team should finish with an identical 2-6 record.