Christian Rodriguez, Assistant Sports Editor
While students were home for a long holiday break after the fall semester, winter sports teams were still hard at work. Read this breakdown of all the Utica College sports action you might have missed while on break.
On Jan. 7, the 7-4 women’s hockey team took on Oswego State on the road and lost 5-2. Senior Veronique Lortie and junior Elizabeth Dohner each scored a goal. Senior Jennifer Arts and freshman Nicole Johnson both assisted on a score. Freshman goalie Gabrielle Igo ended the night with 13 saves.
Next on the schedule was a matchup against UCHC foe and top-ranked Elmira College where the Pioneers were shutout 5-0. Sophomore Bria Reilly and freshman Ryann Stripp both combined for 33 saves in the net.
The Pioneers returned home the next day for a rematch against the Soaring Eagles. UC fell short once again 5-2. Seniors Meghan Power and Lortie scored the two goals for the Pioneers. Bria Reilly stopped 28 shots on the afternoon.
On Saturday, Jan. 20, UC, still seeking that first win of 2018, travelled to take on William Smith College, but took a tough 2-1 loss.
After a scoreless first period, Jennifer Arts broke the tie at the 7:21 mark with her third goal of the year from an assist from Rebecca Brown and Lexi Stanisewski. William Smith was able to tie and take the lead in the final period of the contest to secure the victory. Sophomore Bria Reilly had 26 saves in her third straight start of the season.
The Pioneers finally got a win in 2018 with a victory over William Smith at home by the score of 4-2. Despite a 2-0 deficit after the first period, UC rallied for four unanswered goals sparked by senior Carlie Smith and her second goal of the season. At the 15:47 mark of the second period, junior Jennifer Lui buried a loose puck for her first score of the season to give the Pioneers the lead.
The women’s hockey team are now 8-8 overall and 4-4 in conference play. The team takes the ice again on Friday, Jan. 26 against Stevenson University.
Nationally ranked at 7th overall, according to USCHO.com, the men’s hockey team started off the new year on the road against Adrian College but fell short 2-1. Roman Ammirato scored the first goal of the game on an assist from Mikhail Bushinski and Brett Szajner at the 14:06 marker of the second period on a power-play. That was Ammirato’s team best 11th goal of the season.
UC took the ice the next day against the U.S. National Under-18 team in Plymouth, MI. The national team has 17 Division I committed players on the roster, but that did not stop the Pioneers from rallying behind four unanswered goals in the final 20:14 of the contest to earn a 5-4 victory.
The late comeback was sparked by Szajner, who scored his 7th goal of the season on an assist from freshman Jamie Bucell. Freshman forward Conor Landrigan netted a goal at the 5:59 mark in the final period on an assist from Justin Derlago. Sophomore goalie Patrik Virtanen and classmate Gianluca Baggetta combined for 28 saves in the victory.
Next up, UC took a short trip to Morrisville State College to take on the Mustangs on Jan. 12.
Utica tacked another one in the win column with a 4-1 victory. Senior centers Kevin Valenti and Anthony McVeigh finished with one goal and one assist. Freshman Brett Everson and Ammirato both added a goal of their own in the win.
The Pioneers then took on the Bears of SUNY Potsdam where the team continued the winning streak with a 5-4 victory. Gregg Burmaster and Brett Everson each had one goal and an assist while Roman Ammirato and Zach Borsoi had two assists a piece. Virtanen made 27 saves on the night and improved to 8-2 on the season.
The Pioneers returned to conference play Jan. 19 and took on Nazareth College.
Five unanswered scores by the Pioneers earned the team their third straight win. The Pioneers were lead by Ammirato with two goals and an assist. Virtanen had another solid performance in the net, securing him his 9th win of the season with 15 saves, 10 of which came in the final period of the contest.
The Pioneers then took on the visiting Lakers of Oswego State as the two teams skated to a 3-3 tie in overtime. The three goals came from Ammirato, Anthony McVeigh and Daniel Fritz. Virtanen stopped 31 shots on the night.
The Utica College men’s hockey team are now 13-3-1 overall and 7-2 in conference play. The team looks to keep the great play going on Jan. 26 against the visiting Bryn Athyn.
The women’s basketball team went into the break with a record of 4-4. The team’s first game back from the holiday break was against Union College where the Pioneers suffered a 61-53 loss.
Senior guard Ashley Mayo netted a team-high 16 points along with three rebounds while playing in all 40 minutes of the contest. Junior Briannah Florian added 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
The lady Pioneers then opened up conference play at home against St. John Fisher. Despite a career night for senior Mayo, who scored 33 points, UC fell short 65-53. Senior guard Ashelyne Babb chipped in eight points and a game-high five steals.
UC then took the long road trip to Hoboken, New Jersey to take on the Ducks of Stevens Institute of Technology.
It was a highly defensive matchup as the Pioneers snuck out of Hoboken with a 48-39 victory behind a combined 25 points from the senior backcourt of Mayo and Babb. The Ducks were up 33-32 going into the fourth before an 8-2 run by the Pioneers that ended up being the deciding factor of the contest as UC kept the Ducks scoreless for the final 5:30 of the game.
The women returned home for another conference battle against the Hawks of Hartwick College where the team suffered a heartbreaking two point loss, 71-73.
Babb sparked a 10-0 run in the opening two minutes of the second half to put the Pioneers up 41-36. The Hawks would answer back with a run of their own to take the lead 63-57 in the fourth. Babb lead all scorers with 24 points and five rebounds.
The visiting Soaring Eagles were up next on the schedule for the Pioneers, and UC used a balanced scoring attack to get the win, 62-53. Senior forward Alaina Tripp’s 12 points and seven rebounds.
To open up the second semester, the Pioneers took on the visiting Gators of The Sage Colleges. UC could not get a lead in the game and were defeated 72-65. The Pioneers were led by Babb once again with 18 points and she showed great defensive awareness with a career-high nine steals.
The Pioneers hit the road again for the weekend to take on Houghton College and Alfred University. Despite a season-high 17 points from junior Briannah Florian, UC would be defeated by the Highlanders 65-51. Saturday afternoon, the Pioneers redeemed themselves against the Saxons of Alfred University with a 57-51 win behind Mayo’s game-high 23 points.
The women’s basketball team are now 7-9 overall and 3-4 in Empire 8 play. The team is on the road again on Friday to take on Nazareth College.
Prior to the holiday break, the men’s basketball team was 3-4, a sign of improvement from an 0-8 in the first semester. The Pioneers hosted their first annual Utica College Basketball Classic and opened up against Anna Maria College on Jan. 29.
The Pioneers lead the entire game, winning 99-73. The team was lead by senior point guard Bennito Ayarza who finished with 18 points, three assists, four rebounds and two steals. Ayarza also shot a perfect 6-6 from the field.
In the championship game of the tournament, the Pioneers took on the Lakers of Oswego State and secured the Basketball Classic title with a 66-63 victory. Ayarza was named the tournament MVP after another solid outing. He went for another 18 points and dished out a career-high nine assists. Senior captain Ivan Iton chipped in 10 points and six rebounds while sophomore Tyler Jollie added 11 points off the bench.
The Pioneers then opened up Empire 8 play at home against the defending conference champion St. John Fisher College Cardinals on Jan. 2.
Despite a strong start, the Pioneers fell short to the Cardinals 74-65. Iton scored a game-high 16 points to go with his eight rebounds and four blocks. Senior Carl Taylor added a season-high 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Pioneers travelled to Hoboken on Jan. 9 to take on Stevens Institute of Technology.
The Ducks were in control from the opening tip as they defeated the Pioneers 85-54. Sophomore forward Hunter Remley had the hot hand for UC with 11 points and five rebounds. Freshman Kobe Lufkin and sophomore Jake Kulakowski both added six points off the bench.
UC would return to action seeking redemption at home against Hartwick College.
Strong outings from Ivan Iton and Remley lifted the Pioneers to a 84-71 victory. Remley finished with a season-high 23 points on 7-12 shooting. Iton recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds along the way to becoming the 16th player in school history to score 1000 points.
In a 93-77 blowout of Elmira College, Iton kept up his high level of play with a career high 34 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Freshman Kobe Lufkin tallied 14 points, shooting 4-for-6 from long range.
The men’s team opened up the spring semester with a 79-75 home win over Sage. Iton finished with another outstanding performance, netting 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds while shooting an impressive 9-of-11 from the floor.
The Pioneers had three more players scoring in double figures with Remley, Justin Strielkauskus and Ayarza each adding 10 points. Taylor was the workhorse of the night, recording a stat line of eight points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. Ryan Johanes provided a spark with his jump-shot, pouring in a career-high nine points off a 3-for-3 effort from beyond the arc.
Then came a two-game road trip for the Pioneers.
First on the agenda were the Highlanders of Houghton College where Ayarza, with 19 points and five assists, lead the team to their fourth straight victory, 72-56. The senior point guard scored 10 of his 19 points in a five-minute stretch.
To finish out the road trip, the Pioneers took on the Saxons of Alfred University and came up short 78-54. Remely lead the Pioneers with 14 points while Iton finished with 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Kobe Lufkin and senior Miles McNeill combined for 13 points off the bench for UC.
The Pioneers are now 9-7 overall this season and 4-3 in E8 play. The team heads to Rochester to face Nazareth College on Friday and St. John Fisher on Saturday.