UMW Fall Sports Preview
By Zach Moretti
Now that summer has wrapped up, UMW athletics is back in full swing and full sweat. Volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, and men’s and women’s soccer all look to build on their 2008 campaigns and hope to do even better in 2009.
The 2008 Eagles volleyball team had a solid season as they finished tied for third in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) at 5-3 and had an overall record of 19-11. Last year’s team was young; of the 15 players only three were seniors and eight were freshmen. Those young players getting experience right away should only help the team this year and beyond. The Eagles will have to do without the services of Kelley Hueber, a four-time All-Capitol-Athletic Conference player and one of the best volleyball players to ever suit up for Mary Washington, as she has graduated and her illustrious career has come to an end. UMW does return Senior Anne Lutkenhaus, who is coming off a season where she was awarded first-team All-CAC honors. With the combination of Lutkenhaus and the development of all the young talent on the team, the 2009 season looks to be a promising one. The new season kicks off on Sept. 4 when the team will travel to Virginia Beach for a tournament held by Virginia Wesleyan College.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams both had very respectable seasons in 2008. Both squads were extremely young, as each team had only a lone senior on their roster. The men’s team finished second in the CAC Championships last November and this season they will once again be led by CAC Runner of the Year Frank DeVar, who is now entering his senior season. The team also returns three other All-CAC runners; Brian Fulton, Jason Driscoll and Jake Pattyson, all seniors. Sophomore Justin Mullen, last year’s CAC Rookie of the Year, also returns. The team will have a tough task at hand if they wish to accomplish the goal of capturing the CAC title this year, as to do so they will need to topple the four-time defending champ Salisbury University. However, with all the talent the team has returning, a CAC title is certainly in reach.
The women’s team has a CAC Runner of the Year of their own in Junior Hayley Sullivan, who was also an NCAA Championship participant in 2008. However, Sullivan is not the lone talent on the team as UMW had six other runners who were donned with All-CAC honors; Junior Sarah Dawes, Senior Kira Runkle, Senior Nina Pfeiffer, Sophomore Michaela Sands, Junior Madalyn Crowell, and Senior Mara Cate. The goal of a CAC title is in sight for this squad, but just like the men’s team, in order to be crowned CAC champs this season the Eagles will need to dethrone Salisbury.
Both the men’s and women’s seasons begin at the Washington & Lee Invitational on Sept. 12 in Lexington.
The UMW field hockey team had a solid year in 2008, finishing third in the CAC with a 4-2 mark and with an overall record of 13-6. As is the case with the other fall sports teams at UMW, the field hockey team is also a young bunch as the team returns all but three players from last year and will only have three seniors again this season. Leading the team in the fall will be Senior Jaci Marshall and Junior Heidi Sheehan, who were both honored with First Team All Conference selections a season ago. If the young talent got enough seasoning last year that they are more game-ready this season, then this team could rise to the top of the conference. But once again just like the other sports, the Eagles will have to overcome a Salisbury team that is defending their title and looks strong once again. The 2009 field hockey season will begin with a match at home against Lynchburg College on Sept.1.
The men’s soccer team had strong showing in 2008. They finished with an overall record of 9-5-3 and they went 5-1-2 in conference play, which was good for second place in the CAC. The team returns their leading point scorer in junior T.L. Tutor, who was not only an All-CAC player a year ago but was also named to the Virginia Sports Information Directory all-state college division team. The UMW soccer team has high hopes for the season but they will need to replace not only the performance of the five seniors who have moved on, but also their leadership if they are going to be successful this season. After a second place finish in the conference a year ago, the Eagles have their sights on moving up to claim that top spot.
On the women’s side, the Eagles’ female soccer team had a good showing in 2008 as they went 8-6-5 overall and 4-1-3 in CAC play to finish fourth in the conference. The team went through a youth movement as they started multiple freshmen every game and as many as five freshmen were in the starting lineup. Coach Corey Hewson will be entering his second season in command of the Eagles and he will need to replace goalkeeper Laura McCarthy, who has since graduated, and the position will be up for grabs between two sophomores. The team will also be looking to the young talent to really step up to fill the shoes of last season’s leading scorer, Hannah Pearson, who also graduated last spring. The team will look to senior Kate Parvin for guidance and as well as sophomores Amy Olson and Nicole Dierkes, who are both rising young stars. A first place finish may be too lofty a goal for this particular team, but a top three finish seems attainable.
The men’s soccer season will get underway with a home game on Sept. 1 against Virginia Wesleyan College at 4 p.m. The women’s team will also start their season on the first, but on the road as they travel to Winchester, to take on Shenandoah University at 7 p.m.
As we return to school for another great year, it appears that the prospects for the fall sports teams look just as bright as ever.