Fall sports return, Pioneers experience early success amid guidelines

Matthew Robinson, Staff Writer

With two weeks of sports completed at Utica College, some things are looking a little different compared to the past few seasons. 

“Seeing all student-athletes back on campus and with full capacity classes in session, it feels like we are getting closer to more normalcy,” Athletic  Director Dave Fontaine said. ”The past two semesters have been rough dealing with COVID-19, but if we all keep doing our part and staying healthy everything will run smoothly.”

Adjusting to new rules can be challenging. However, Fontaine said it has been exciting to watch all of the teams play. 

“Last fall was rough because of all the rules around mask wearing and social distancing,” Fontaine said. “I think we’ve all come together pretty well as a community to do our part and staying safe.”

UC Football is off to a 2-0 start behind senior Nate Palmer, who currently leads the team in both receiving yards and rushing yards. The new quarterback under center for the Pioneers this year is Sonny Badyna. The junior from Brooklyn, NY has completed 58.33% of his passes, with five touchdown passes, 523 passing yards, while also adding three touchdowns on the ground. The next game for the Pioneers will be Saturday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m., when they host Western New England University at Charles A. Gaetano Stadium.

Other teams have ushered in the fall season and have games this week:

  • Men’s Soccer started the season on the right foot. Sophomore Brady Barnard is leading the team with three points while sophomore Foti Xidias leads the team with 14 saves playing in between the pipes. The next game will be at home Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. vs. Hamilton College.
  • Field Hockey is led by senior Madeline Krecidlo, who has four goals on six shots. Goalie Megan Chamberlain is also off to a hot start with 35 saves. The next game will be at home Wednesday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. vs. SUNY Brockport. 
  • Women’s Soccer played three games this season, dropping one by one goal, the other two wins were both shutouts, 5-0 and 4-0. Seniors Sydney Cook and Ro Hernandez lead the team with eight points each. The next game will be at home Tuesday, Sept. 14 at  6 p.m. vs. SUNY Potsdam.

Some of the biggest changes student athletes are experiencing this semester revolve around COVID-19 protocols. Testing and mask policies for athletes this semester are different compared to previous semesters. 

“Traveling will be the same as before,” Emergency Management Director Shad Crowe said. “Masks are still required on busses no matter the vaccination status. There will be some circumstances that require us to be masked at other schools when we travel if the school tells us to, but at Utica, masks are not required while playing in competition.”

Masks are not required with outdoor competition, but it is mandatory for indoor events. This will be in effect until CDC guidelines change or if there is a spike in cases. 

Unvaccinated athletes competing for Utica College must receive weekly PCR tests or test three times per week when no competition is scheduled, Crowe said.

“As of now, we are looking very good as a school compared to some others within the area as far as infectious rates are concerned,” Crowe said. “It’s still early in the semester so I’m hoping we can keep up the good work.”