Tag: New England Small College Athletic Conference

Noontime’s NESCAC Football Preview: Can Williams Defend Its 2021 Crown?

Joel Nicholas and the Williams College football team begin their 2022 season on Saturday at Colby College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour)

By Matt Noonan

A brand-new season of New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football returns this Saturday.

As expected, there are some enticing matchups this weekend, including Trinity College at Tufts University, Amherst College entertaining Middlebury College, and Bates College visiting Wesleyan University.

But perhaps the game most fans will be watching – or perhaps following – is Williams College at Colby College.

The Ephs completed their first-ever 9-0 campaign last fall – Williams defeated Trinity, Wesleyan, and Amherst during the final three weeks to clinch its first outright crown since 2010 (the Ephs concluded its 2010 campaign with an 8-0 record, along with some hardware).

Quarterback Bobby Maimaron and wide receiver Frank Stola have graduated so if Williams is going to defend its crown, the Ephs will need to lean on both its returners and newcomers this fall.

Halfback Joel Nicholas returns after leading the NESCAC in scoring last season – the Buffalo, New York native tallied 17 touchdowns in nine contests. In addition to Nicholas, Williams will lean on John Freeman (offensive line), Ian Devine (defensive line), and Rocco Giandomenico (defensive back).  

The biggest question for the Ephs is who will play quarterback?

That remains an unknown, but don’t be surprised if you see Jack Dickinson or Luke Bobo line up under center on Saturday.

“We’ll make our decision on who will start later this week,” coach Mark Raymond said in the Williams College football preview on Ephsports.com. “Both are smart, talented, athletic, and they are good leaders who have taken control of the offense.”

Looking to challenge Williams for the top spot in the standings are Trinity and Wesleyan, which finished second and third, respectively, last season.

The Bantams return some key pieces from its 8-1 squad, including quarterback Spencer Fetter, halfback Will Kirby, and wide receiver DeVante Reid. Additionally, Noah Glantz (defensive line), Brian Casagrande (linebacker), and Aidan Kennedy (defensive back) return to anchor a defense that yielded 13.77 points per game last season.

Trinity concluded its season with back-to-back wins over Amherst (49-7) and Wesleyan (14-7) but saw its six-game winning streak snapped last October against Williams (42-3).  

Wesleyan began its 2021 campaign with six-straight wins before losing its final three contests to Amherst, Williams, and Trinity.

But despite ending its previous season with three-straight losses, there is a sense of optimism surrounding coach Dan DiCenzo’s squad, which will be led this fall by Nick Helbig, who was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year last November.

Helbig was the Co-Rookie of the Year in 2019 with Middlebury College’s Alex Maldjian and finished his junior season with 50 total tackles. He ranked second in the conference in tackles for a loss (11) and tied with Ian Devine in sacks (5.5).

As a unit, the Cardinals surrendered 168 points while the offense produced 197 points, thanks to David Estevez, a dual-threat quarterback that placed fourth in the conference in rushing yards (746). His longest burst was an 88-yard rush against Tufts last October.

Wesleyan shared the conference crown with Amherst and Middlebury in 2013 while finishing as the runner-up to the Panthers in 2019.

Trinity won three-straight titles from 2016 to 2018 and is seeking its 18th crown in program history.

Noontime’s Team to Watch in 2022: Colby College. Coach Jack Cosgrove’s squad has gradually improved over the last few seasons – last fall, the Mules produced its first four-win season since finishing 4-4 in 2013.

Brett Holmes, who represented the Blue and White on the NESCAC First-Team Defense last November, has graduated, which means Colby will need to lean on a few returners, including defensive back Nick Donatio, who led the unit in total tackles (69.0). Donatio also recorded a team-high 47 solo stops to go with six pass breakups.

Linebacker EJ Brister is back after recording 35 total tackles in nine contests, including seven tackles for a loss of 15 yards.

Quarterback Matt Hersch returns after throwing for 1,742 yards – expect him to target wide receiver Jack Sawyer, who led the Colby receiving core with 462 yards on 28 receptions.

Colby may have dropped three of its first four contests last season, but the Mules did score some impressive wins last fall over Amherst (10-7) and Middlebury (28-14). Additionally, they topped Bates and Bowdoin College to claim their third consecutive CBB crown (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin trophy).

Noontime’s Surprise Team in 2022: Middlebury College. The 2022 season will mark the final time coach Bob Ritter will pace the sidelines, so I expect this current group of Panthers to play some inspired football this fall.

Middlebury’s perfect season from 2019 seemed like a distant memory last fall as the Navy Blue and White won just three of nine contests.

For the Panthers to cap Ritter’s time on the sidelines with some hardware, they will need to score wins over Trinity, Wesleyan, and Williams, along with Amherst, Colby, and Tufts. Additionally, they will want to beat Bates, Bowdoin, and Hamilton College.

Linebacker Jack Pistorius has graduated, which means the Middlebury defense will need to lean on Tomas Kenary (defensive line), who was named Co-Rookie of the Year last fall with Andre Eden of Bowdoin, and wide receiver Donovan Wood, who earned a spot on the All-NESCAC Second Offense.

Cole Crider returns as the team’s punter – he represented Middlebury on the All-NESCAC First team Special Teams.

Noontime’s NESCAC Champion Prediction: Trinity College. As much as I would like to pick Williams to repeat, Trinity seems like the safe pick, as well as the early favorite by many that observe or cover the NESCAC. Sure, you could make the case for Wesleyan, but in the end, coach Jeff Devanney’s squad will score a few late-season wins over Bates, Bowdoin, and Wesleyan to secure the team’s first NESCAC crown in four years.

Noontime’s D-III Lacrosse Championship Predictions

Middlebury College’s Emma White and the Panthers defense has been a unit to watch this postseason. (PHOTO COURTESY: Will Costello)

By Matt Noonan

The time has come to crown not one, but two NCAA Division III lacrosse champions.

This weekend, six teams – four women’s and two men’s – will contend for the ultimate prize of a national championship.

But before the games commence, it is time to share my picks – well, more my thoughts, to exact, as to who I think will win this year’s titles.

Let’s begin with the four teams competing for the women’s national championship in Salem, Virginia.

NCAA D-III Women’s Semifinals & Championship Predictions

Middlebury College over Gettysburg College: It’s too bad this matchup had to occur in the semifinals – it would have been great to see both teams square off on Sunday in the championship.  

This weekend will be the last time Carol Cantele and Barb Jordan will pace the Gettysburg sidelines – the Bullets enter the last weekend of the season with a 13-game winning streak.

Cantele credits the opponents her team faced two months ago to prepare her squad for a challenging postseason run, which began with an extra session win over Roanoke College in the second round.

Jordan Basso is the player to watch on Gettysburg – the sophomore attack from Rye, New York leads the Orange and Blue in goals (65) and points (101).

Middlebury was idle last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but their championship momentum from 2019 has remained with the Navy Blue and White, which is seeking its eighth title in program history, as well as its third crown since 2016.

The Panthers’ defense has been a unit to watch this postseason. They have limited its three postseason foes to six goals or less, and have received a major boost from goalie Annie Enrietto, who has turned aside 21 shots in her team’s last three contests. She denied 11 shots on Sunday during her team’s second meeting of the season with Colby College.  

Jennifer LaRocca and the TCNJ women’s lacrosse team scored back-to-back wins last weekend over Salisbury University and SUNY Cortland. (PHOTO COURTESY: Jimmy Alagna/TCNJ Athletics)

Tufts University over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ): TCNJ’s path to championship weekend wasn’t an easy one.

The Lions had to beat three teams, including Salisbury University and SUNY Cortland in back-to-back games last weekend, which is not an easy task. But perhaps their wins over the Red Dragons and Sea Gulls will provide TCNJ with enough momentum to beat Tufts, a squad that has ended the Lions’ last two postseason trips.

Like TCNJ, Tufts enters its semifinal matchup with a great deal of momentum, which began after the team’s last setback to Amherst College in April. After losing to the Mammoths in overtime, the Jumbos have been on a roll, winning their second-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament crown while scoring three impressive postseason wins.

Perhaps the Jumbos’ most impressive win of the postseason came on Sunday evening as Tufts converted seven of 12 free position goals against Franklin & Marshall to clinch its third trip to the semifinals since 2019.

Last season, the Jumbos came close to winning their first-ever national title but saw their hopes dashed by an extra Salisbury tally by Delaney Hill. Tufts would respond, netting three-straight goals in less than two minutes, but its final marker by Caroline Walter concluded the Jumbos’ comeback.

The loss to Salisbury, along with an extra session defeat to Amherst might be enough motivation for Tufts to find a way to beat TCNJ for the fourth time in the last three years.

Middlebury over Tufts in the 2022 NCAA D-III Title Game: Get ready for an all-NESCAC championship.

Middlebury and Tufts almost met in the title round three years ago when both teams appeared in the national semifinals. But Tufts saw its season conclude against Salisbury, which would then fall to Middlebury in the championship.

So, let’s try this again.

Middlebury beat Tufts earlier this spring by seven goals, thanks to a four-point (three goals, one assist) effort from Jane Earley, along with a hat trick by Susan Rowley.

Tufts would win the next meeting by one goal when the two teams met in the NESCAC Championship earlier this month. The Jumbos’ defense highlighted the win, especially at the very end as the unit denied a pair of free-position attempts by Hope Shue.

The Jumbos’ 9-8 win over the Panthers snapped Middlebury’s 42-game winning streak, which began with a 16-1 victory over Springfield College on March 8, 2019.

Since falling to Tufts, Middlebury has looked impressive. They tallied 22 goals in back-to-back games against SUNY Geneseo and the University of Chicago, before relying on its defense to slow down a Colby squad that had produced 33 goals in back-to-back postseason contests.  

While Tufts’ run to the national semifinals has been exciting – and yes, impressive, too – it just seems like their luck or momentum will disappear in the third meeting with Middlebury, which seems determined to conclude its current campaign with some hardware.


NCAA D-III Men’s Championship Predictions

Ryan Puglisi and the Union College defense shined last Sunday against York College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clara Lodice)

Union College over Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT): Who doesn’t like an underdog story?

Union may not be the favorite, but it seems as if many within the D-III world are pulling for the Dutchmen to win their initial national championship.

The Dutchmen have enjoyed an impressive season, winning 18 of 20 contests with perhaps their most exciting wins occurring last weekend over Gettysburg College and York College. Both wins were exciting but also proved this year’s Dutchmen can win a championship.

For Union to complete its storybook season with a title, they will need to find a way to slow down an RIT squad that has produced 20 goals or more in four postseason contests this spring.

The Tigers won their first-ever championship last year by outlasting Salisbury in double-overtime.

RIT has beaten Union in its last 20 meetings, including an NCAA Tournament clash in 2019. The Tigers won both meetings last spring, including an 11-9 victory in the Liberty League (LL) semifinals.  

Marley Angus highlighted RIT’s one-goal win over Union last month as the senior midfielder concluded the game with four goals, two assists, and two ground balls. Keaton McCann led Union with five goals on eight shots.

McCann has been a player to watch on Union this postseason. The senior attack from Briarcliff, New York has recorded three goals or more in four contests while netting the game-winner last Saturday against Gettysburg.   


NCAA D-III Championship Weekend Schedule

WLAX D-III Semifinal: Middlebury vs Gettysburg on Saturday, May 28 at 12 p.m.

WLAX D-III Semifinal: Tufts vs. TCNJ on Saturday, May 28 at 3:00 p.m.

MLAX D-III Championship: RIT vs. Union on Sunday, May 29 at 1 p.m.

WLAX D-III Championship: Middlebury/Gettysburg vs. TCNJ/Tufts on Sunday, May 29 at 3:30 p.m.

All three women’s games will occur in Salem, Virginia while the men’s championship will take place in East Hartford, Connecticut.

Middlebury Women’s Lacrosse Secures The Top Spot In This Year’s NESCAC Tournament

Jane Earley and the Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team clinched the top spot in this year’s NESCAC Tournament with a 15-5 victory over Williams College. (PHOTO COURTESY: Colin Bourque)

By Matt Noonan

The Middlebury College women’s lacrosse team has not lost a game in three years.

On Wednesday, the Panthers concluded its regular season slate by winning its 15th straight contest this season with a 15-5 victory over Williams College.

The 10-goal win is Middlebury’s 40th consecutive victory dating back to a 16-1 victory over Springfield College on March 8, 2019.

Middlebury secured the top spot in this year’s New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament, which begins this Saturday, April 30 with four quarterfinal matchups. The Panthers will welcome Amherst College to campus with the opening draw set for 12 p.m.  

Amherst lost to Middlebury last weekend by a score of 15-7 before ending its regular-season slate last night with an 11-9 setback to Trinity College.

Colby College secured the second seed with a 13-2 overall record, including a 9-1 mark against NESCAC opponents, and will host seventh-seed Bowdoin College on Saturday. Tufts University, which is the third seed, will host Trinity while the fourth seed Wesleyan University will entertain Hamilton College.

All three matchups are scheduled to commence at 12 p.m.  

Middlebury has appeared in 20 consecutive NESCAC Tournaments, winning 10 titles in 12 championship appearances.  They have won two of the last three NESCAC titles with Tufts claiming the league crown last year en route to an appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship against Salisbury University (the Sea Gulls edged the Jumbos, 14-13).

Following the conclusion of Saturday’s quarterfinals, the four winning teams will advance to the highest remaining seed, which will host both the semifinals (Saturday, May 7) and championship (Sunday, May 8). The winner of this year’s NESCAC Championship will secure the league’s automatic bid for the upcoming NCAA Division III Tournament, which is scheduled to begin Saturday, May 14.

Tufts Men’s Lacrosse Secures The Top Spot In The NESCAC Tournament

By Matt Noonan

Following a 23-15 victory over Bowdoin College, the Tufts University men’s lacrosse team clinched the top spot in this year’s New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament.

Tufts has secured the top spot in seven conference tournaments and enters this spring’s postseason as the defending NESCAC Champion after beating Williams College last May by a score of 18-11.

The Jumbos secured a quarterfinal meeting with Connecticut College this Saturday, April 30 with a face-off scheduled for 3 p.m.

Tufts topped the Camels earlier this month by a score of 21-14 – the seven-goal victory was highlighted by a career-best six goals by Camden Kelleher.

Connecticut College enters this year’s NESCAC Tournament as the eighth seed, boasting a 5-8 overall record to go with a 3-7 mark against league foes.

Bowdoin, which secured the second seed, will entertain Hamilton College on Saturday while third-seed Amherst College will host rival Williams. Both games are scheduled for 1 p.m.

Wesleyan University, which earned the fourth seed with an 11-4 overall record, will compete against Middlebury College. This game will also begin at 1 p.m.  

Following the conclusion of Saturday’s quarterfinal matchups, the four winning teams will advance to next weekend’s semifinals, which will be played on Saturday, May 7 at the highest remaining seed. The NESCAC Championship will then occur on Sunday, May 8.

Tufts has won 10 NESCAC Championships in 12 appearances. They have won three of the last four conference tournament crowns with Wesleyan capturing its second title in program history in 2017 with a win over Middlebury.

The winner of this year’s NESCAC Championship will secure a spot in next month’s NCAA Division III Tournament, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday, May 11.   

Noontime’s D3 Lacrosse Games to Watch (March 5-6)

Dylan Wolfe and the Lynchburg men’s lacrosse team will compete against Salisbury University on Saturday. (Please credit Erin Farina/LynchburgSports.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to the first official weekend of March lacrosse.

As usual, we have some great matchups to watch (and follow, of course) so let’s share the games we will be watching, beginning with the University of Lynchburg visiting Salisbury University (men’s lacrosse).

The Sea Gulls enter a postseason preview with the Hornets riding a three-game winning streak, which includes recent wins against Gettysburg College and Stevens Institute of Technology. Logan Posner highlighted his team’s win against the Ducks by recording a career-high six goals to go with an assist.

Posner is one of many Sea Gulls to watch tomorrow — the same could be said for Cross Ferrara, a graduate student that has recorded 12 goals and four assists in three contests to go with seven ground balls and two caused turnovers.

As a team, Salisbury is averaging 17.00 goals per game while its defense has limited its last two opponents to six goals or less.

Lynchburg captured last season’s meeting with a 10-8 win, thanks to Brett Rogers, who led the Hornets with four points on two goals and two assists to go with a pair of ground balls. Riley Mitchell and Kyle Lewis concluded the non-conference meeting with two goals apiece.

All three student-athletes will be spotted on the field tomorrow for Lynchburg, along with Dylan Wolfe, who recorded a season-high six points on four goals and two assists last weekend against Cabrini University.

Wolfe described Saturday’s matchup as “two tough teams” that have split the last two meetings.

Lynchburg has won just five contests against Salisbury dating back to their initial meeting in 1980 when the Sea Gulls soared past the Hornets by a score of 27-5.

While Salisbury-Lynchburg will certainly garner the attention, there are some other games to watch, including Middlebury College women’s lacrosse hosting Bowdoin College on Saturday.

Middlebury has not competed in two years but is expected to contend for a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown, along with Tufts University, Colby College, Wesleyan University, Hamilton College, Amherst College, Trinity College, and Bowdoin.

The Panthers enter the 2022 season as a young squad with a few members of its championship squad back, including midfielder Erin Nicholas, who guided Middlebury to a field hockey championship last November.

Middlebury enters Saturday’s meeting with Bowdoin riding a 25-game winning streak and beat the Polar Bears in their initial contest of 2020 by a score of 16-12.


Here are a few more games to watch this weekend (times are eastern standard time):

Colby College at Tufts University (men’s lacrosse) Saturday, March 5 at 12 p.m.: The Jumbos will kick-off their 2022 campaign with a visit from the Mules, a team they beat last April by a score of 29-11, thanks to Bryce Adam, who recorded a career-high nine points.  

Rhodes College at Birmingham-Southern College (women’s lacrosse) Saturday, March 5 at 12 p.m.: Two of the top teams in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) will meet on Saturday with BSC looking to bounce back from a setback last weekend against Reinhardt University.

Cornell College at Illinois Tech (men’s lacrosse) Saturday, March 5 at 12 p.m.: The Rams have won two of three contests this season with hopes of winning their second-straight contest on Saturday against the Scarlet Hawks.  

Brockport at Denison University (women’s lacrosse) Saturday, March 5 at 1 p.m.: The Golden Eagles will play their first game of the season after their previous two meetings with Ithaca College and the University of Rochester were postponed.

St. John Fisher at St. Lawrence University (men’s lacrosse) Saturday at 2 p.m.: The Cardinals will enter Saturday’s non-conference meeting with a great deal of momentum following back-to-back wins against Ithaca and SUNY Cortland.

Kenyon College at Catholic University (women’s lacrosse) Sunday, March 6 at 3 p.m. eastern: Catholic will host Kenyon in its first-ever matchup on Sunday with hopes of capturing its second-straight win.

Marymount University at Whittier College (men’s lacrosse) Sunday, March 6 at 4 p.m.: The Poets have won four-straight contests and will attempt to stretch their current winning streak to five against a Saints squad that is looking to snap a two-game losing streak.