Samuel Northrup, Staff Writer
Another season of Fall sports is upon Utica College athletics, as the Pioneers look to improve from 2015. Two teams poised to improve include the football and women’s soccer teams.
“As soon as our season ended last year, our mindset was ‘next season starts today’”, said second-year head coach Eileen Blumenauer of the women’s soccer team. “We knew we needed to commit to training in the offseason to improve our record this year and become a competitive team in our conference.”
In her first season as head coach, Blumenauer and the Pioneers finished 3-13-2, including a 1-7 record within the conference. Despite a losing record, the 2015 season yielded some positives with the emergence of promising freshman midfielder/forward Jenna Mazza, who led the team in total points and goals.
Mazza, now entering her sophomore season, feels the team is heading in the right direction under Blumenauer. “I think we have a good foundation set,” she said. “It was a transition, but Coach Blumenauer set a good foundation for us to work of off. We had a very good preseason, and I like where we’re headed now.”
On the gridiron, the Pioneers had 2015 championship aspirations but finished with a 4-6 record, including 3-5 in the Empire 8. The team started the season winning four of its first six games, but collapsed down the stretch, losing the remaining four contests by 12 points or less.
“Last year, we lost a lot of games because we couldn’t finish,” said senior linebacker and team captain Juwan Wilson. “That has been our focus this year, and we’ve changed the culture in the locker room and are ready to finish games.”
Head coach Blaise Faggiano stressed the team’s theme for the season, “Win the Day”. “I think the guys felt like last year they talked too much about the Empire 8 Championship, too much about getting our first ring,” he said. “But this year’s focus is different. The focus is on winning one game at a time.”
Faggiano and the Pioneers started strong with a convincing 40-6 win over Misericordia University to start the season with a 1-0 record.
The women’s soccer team opened the season competing in the North Country Classic, facing Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University. The team lost both matches, starting the season 0-2.
Other teams that opened the season last week were men’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, field hockey and women’s volleyball.
The men’s soccer team lost both its matches in the Union College Classic, starting the season with an 0-2 mark.
The men’s and women’s golf teams both had rough outings at the St. Lawrence Invitational over the weekend. The men finished tied for seventh place, while the women’s team finished ninth.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams both finished strong at the SUNY Poly Short Course Invitational, with the men coming in third place and the women in fourth.
The Pioneer field hockey team lost its first two games of the season against Oneonta and New Paltz at the St. Lawrence Tournament over the weekend.
The women’s volleyball team started strong in its season opener, sweeping SUNY-Delhi 3-0, but lost its next four matches in the Cortland Tournament to start the season with a 1-4 record.