Kean’s spring sports recap
By Mak Ojutiku
So far, it’s been a successful season for Kean’s Spring sports teams. For some of the teams the season is just beginning, for others its in full swing. Let’s take a look at how the teams have been doing so far.
The regular season for the Men’s Volleyball team might be ending soon, but the team doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. The season started off a bit slowly, dropping six of their first nine games but their 3-0 win over Daniel Webster College, in their tenth game of the season, seemed to open up the floodgates. After that win, the Cougars went on a 12 game winning streak. Head coach Charlie Ginex, says that the key to getting on that streak was just getting over the hump. “The beginning of the season saw the team go through some growing pains.” the first year head coach said. “We play some of the best teams in the country throughout the season, and our first month was no different. Although we were competitive we just could not get over the hump so to speak. We have found our stride and at this point are playing very well as a cohesive unit.”
The team won a lot of big games during that streak, but their most impressive performance had to be on Feb 22.
On that day, the Cougars had a doubleheader against two of the best Division III teams in the country. The first game of the day was against 5th ranked Nazareth College.
Kean narrowly won the first set of the game 28-26 and then won the next two sets 25-17. Junior Bez Arslani lead the team with 12 kills. Their second match of the day, against 2nd ranked Rivier University, was a much closer match.
The Raiders took the first set by four points, and the Cougars rebounded by taking the next two sets 25-18 and 25-20. The Raiders tied it up in the fourth set but the Cougars rallied in the fifth and final set, winning 15-12.
The biggest factor of the game, was Arslani. Arslani had 27 kills in the game, one shy of the school record. “The ceiling on his physical ability is almost limitless.” says Ginex. “What our coaching staff is most proud of though with Bez is his ability to grow his game in a cognitive sense. He has become a very smart player and his future is very bright.”
Arslani is currently 30th in the nation in kills per set with a 3.39 average.
One of the main contributors to Kean’s defense is sophomore Tommy Rosario. Rosario leads not just the team, but the entire Division III nation, in blocks per set (1.38).
In two consecutive games, Rosario broke the school record for block assists. Rosario first broke it against College of Mt. St. Vincent with 11 BA’s and then he tallied 13 BA’s in Kean’s 3-1 victory over 15th ranked Stevenson University.
With a 17-7 record, Ginex thinks the team has a good chance to go far this season. “We have grown on and off the court” said the coach. “With continued hard work by both the players and coaches, the team has the potential to make a run at something very special.”
This season, the focal point of Kean’s softball team has been it’s pitching. It started off with with their commanding 8-0 season opener win over Catholic University.
Junior Courtney Yard started off the game, and the season, by striking out the first batter she saw in three pitches. She stayed perfect until the bottom of the third where she yielded a single.
Yard finished the game with five strikeouts and allowing only four hits.
On the other side of the plate Kean’s Jill Martin and Megan Cegielsk scored back to back singles in the top of the third. Yard contributed to the offense as well, getting a line drive home run in the 5th.
Yard’s performances in the first week of the season got her an NJAC Pitcher of the Week award.
The team’s pitching put on another show on a Tuesday doubleheader against Mitchell College and Muskingum University.
In the first game, against Muskingum, the Cougars give up an unearned run in the bottom of the first. Kean tied it up in the third via on an RBI that sent senior Jill Martin home. The Cougars went on to score three runs in the 4th and held onto to the lead to win 4-2.
Yard had four strikeouts and allowed six hits. The second game of the day was a runaway train of a game, that had the Cougars in the conductor’s seat. The Cougars scored five runs in the next inning, and Yard smacked an inside the park home run in the third.
On the offensive side of the game, freshman Emily Sabo has been producing outstanding numbers. Sabo is the team leader in almost every offensive stat. Batting average (.574), slugging percentage (.745) runs (18) hits (27) and stolen bases (10). She leads NJAC in batting percentage, runs and hits. Those numbers won her the NJAC Rookie of the Week award every week of the season so far.
Head coach Margie Acker recently got her 300th win and the team is currently ranked 25th in the nation with a 13-3 record.
Last year, Kean’s Men’s Lacrosse team won 15 games, which is the most amount of wins in the programs 44 year history. So far this season, the team has been showing the same kind of skill that got them that record.
The season started off with a home opener against Castleton State College. Sophomore Matt Speciale netted the first goal of the season less than two minutes into the game.
Castleton made a mini comeback, scoring the next three goals of the game, but ultimately the Cougar offense overwhelmed them.
The game ended 11-5 in Kean’s favor and it saw Speciale scoring five more goals, earning him a double hat trick, while Senior Richard Cheifitz tallied two goals and three assists.
The Cougars went on to rout Western Connecticut St. University in a 14-3 victory before conceding it’s first loss of the season to Plattsburgh St. 5-8.
Since that loss the team has been on a winning streak, currently at five. One of the factors contributing to the streak is senior goaltender Dino Vitale. In the last two weeks, Vitale has stopped 68 of 78 shots. He is currently has the second highest save percentage in the nation with .733.
The team currently has an 8-1 record and is undefeated at home.
Kean’s Men’s Baseball team has been putting up good numbers in the last few weeks. After splitting a double-header with Gwynedd Mercy University, the team went on an eight game winning streak.
One reason for the streak has been the Cougar pitching staff. In Kean’s 8-0 win over FDU-Florham, Junior pitcher Charles Thielmann gave up only four singles over seven innings, and retired four hitters. The performance earned him NJAC Pitcher of the Week honors.
Junior Dan Hansen threw for six innings in Kean’s 4-1 win over Eastern Connecticut State University.
Hansen conceded only one unearned run and struck out six batters and Thielmann picked up the save striking out two. Hansen also received an NJAC Pitcher of the Week award.
Junior Mike Daley was selected as the New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association Division II/III Pitcher of the Week on March 19, for his performance in the Cougar’s 9-1 win against the University of Redlands. Daley threw for eight innings allowing only six hits and tallying five strikeouts.
Kean got their first home run of the season, in the form of an extra innings walkoff.
The Cougars won their game against the College of Mt. St. Vincent 6-5, thanks to Tyler Smarslok, hitting a game winner in the tenth inning off of the first pitch he saw.
The home run is also believed to be the first hit in the 14 year history of Jim Hynes Stadium
The team currently has a 13-3 record and has a fourth place ranking in the nation.
The Women’s Lacrosse team started off their season in an impressive manner. The first game of this year was against the Cyclones of Centenary College. At the end of the day it was the Cyclones who ended up getting blown away.
Seven different Kean players scored goals in the 18-2 victory over Centenary. Sophomore Jordan Blanda scored three goals, with the first one coming less than 30 seconds into the match. Sophomore
Samantha Gnapp netted a team high five goals. On the defensive side of the ball, graduate student
Kelly Bachovchin performed well. Bachovchin caused three turnovers and acquired five ground balls. Altogether, the defense gave up only eight shots on goal. Bachovchin’s performance got her the first NJAC Defensive Player of the Week award of the season.
Going off the momentum of that game, the Cougars went 4-0 in their first four games. All four games were one sided affairs,the most lopsided being their 20-5 thrashing of SUNY College at Old Westbury.
The game was somewhat competitive at first, as the Cougars went into halftime leading 10-5, but once the second half began it was all one way traffic.
The Cougars outscored their opponents 10-0 in the latter half with Blanda and senior forward Julie Knodt finishing the game with four goals each.
Recently the team dropped three out of their last four with their last game being a 15-8 loss to Arcadia University. The team currently has a 5-3 record.