Stellar seasons continue at St. Mary’s College
Tait, Balogun tally once as SMCM men’s soccer picks up 12th win; playoffs upcoming for fall teams
Throughout the sea- son the combination of youth and experience has served the St. Mary’s Col- lege of Maryland men’s soccer quite well and Wednesday afternoon that blend was again on display as the Seahawks upended visiting York Col- lege (Pa.), 2-1, in a Capital Athletic Conference regular season finale.
St. Mary’s (12-3-2, 6-2-1 CAC) got one goal each from senior Nick Tait and first-year Khalid Balogun and junior goalkeeper Zack Haussler stopped every shot except for a late penalty kick by York’s Matt Freibaum.
The two teams will play again at St. Mary’s at 3 p.m. Saturday in the opening round of the CAC tournament. The Seahawks picked up the third seed, while York nabbed the sixth and final seed. The winner plays at second-seeded Mary Washington (Va.) in the semifinals on Tuesday. St. Mary’s lost to Mary Washington in double overtime on Oct. 19, 2-1.
“The guys really have been working hard in practice all season and it showed today,” St. Mary’s sixth-year head coach Alun Oliver said. “I thought they did a good job of controlling play in the first half. What it came down to was we were able to capitalize on some good scoring chances in each half and we were able to limit them from getting equally good chances.”
St. Mary’s, 5-2-1 in October, clearly controlled possession through the early stages of the contest and Balogun gave it a 1-0 lead when he took a crossing pass from Tait and delivered it past York starting goalkeeper Charlie Johnson for a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the match. Balogun, Tait, Sunny Chhatani and Andrew Battin all had good shots later in the half but they were either wide of the target of cra- dled by Johnson.
“The way the first 15 to 20 minutes went, we probably could have had at least one more goal,” Tait said. “We had some very good possessions, but we couldn’t capitalize on them other than that goal by Khalid.”
Tait, who had the assist on the Seahawks first goal, later added one of his own when he took a cross from Balogun and launched a chip shot past Johnson to give St. Mary’s a 2-0 lead with 31 minutes 43 seconds remaining. Less than 10 minutes later, Johnson was replaced by Jack Pebole and the Seahawks kept the Spartans’ second goalkeeper busy.
“Getting that second goal was big,” Balogun said. “Nick had the assist on my goal in the first half and then I fed him for his goal. I’ve really been welcomed to the team right from the beginning. It’s definitely been an enjoyable first year.”
Following a physical second half in which numerous players were tackled but few fouls (7) were called between the teams, York eventually was awarded a penalty kick with less than five minutes remaining when Freibaum was knocked down in the box. With the chance to trim the Spartans deficit in half, Freibaum delivered by drilling a low shot past a diving Haussler and into the left corner of the net to make it 2-1 with 4:24 remaining.
Unfazed by the late goal, however, St. Mary’s mounted several good offensives in the last four minutes, two of which forced Pebole to make difficult, one-handed saves. York had one great chance in the last minute when Nathan Bilbie crossed the ball into the box where Joel Teston one-timed the ball well left of the target.
Several hours to the north, the St. Mary’s women’s soccer team (96-1, 6-2-1) was not quite as fortunate in dropping a 3-2 double overtime deci- sion to York.
Senior forward Gillian Sawyer and first-year Gabby Encarnacion each scored in the first half to give the Seahawks a 2-0 lead, but the Spartans ral- lied for the win.
In another sixth-seed versus third-seed matchup, St. Mary’s will host Salisbury in the opening round of the CAC tour- nament at noon Saturday. The winner plays at Frost- burg State in the semifi- nals on Wednesday.
The Seahawks, also 5-21 in October, defeated Frostburg State 2-1 on Oct. 1, then beat Salisbury in its game Oct. 5, 2-0.
The St. Mary’s volleyball team (21-9, 5-2) now has a permanent head coach as Kelly Martin was named to the helm Oct. 20, taking over from interim coach Autumn Fisher.
St. Mary’s, 9-2 in October, finishes out the reg- ular season with home matches versus Christopher Newport at 7 tonight and Mary Washington at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We have found someone in Kelly Martin who is a tremendous fit on our campus, in our depart- ment and as the new leader of our volleyball program,” said Scott Devine, St. Mary’s Director of Athletics and Recreation, in a college news release. “She had a great deal of success as a former D-II college volleyball player at West Chester (Pa.) and has had impactful coaching stops at the D-I and D-III levels.”
Martin brings six years of coaching experience plus four years of playing experience at the NCAA Division II level to St. Mary’s. She was most recently the interim head coach and graduate assistant for the McDaniel Col- lege volleyball team for two seasons, helping the Green Terror claim the Centennial Conference championship and earning a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.
“I want to begin by thanking Scott Devine for making this happen,” said Martin, a native of Whit- by, Ontario, Canada, in the college news release. “The time and effort he put into filling this posi- tion does not go unnoticed and proves the support that he has for the athletic department. St. Mary’s is such a special place where student-athletes are able to excel ac- ademically as well as athletically.”
Senior Mimi Graf was named the conference’s volleyball co-player of the week for the week of Oct. 24. It is Graf’s second ca- reer weekly award.
The St. Mary’s field hockey team (4-11, 2-4), as the fifth seed, will travel to York to face the fourth-seeded Spartans in an opening round game of the CAC tournament at 1 p.m. Sunday. The winner plays at top-seeded Salis- bury in the semifinals on Wednesday.
The Seahawks, headed by Calvert High School graduate and Port Republic resident Jessica Seay, lost to York 3-0 on Oct. 15, then a week later lost to Salisbury, 4-0.
The women’s cross country team took third, while the men finished sixth at the Hood Invitational in Frederick on Oct. 15.
In the women’s race, sophomore Halcyon Ruskin was the first Seahawk to finish, taking 22nd overall in 25:27. Sophomore Marisa Mc- Cormick, a Calvert High School graduate from Prince Frederick, was the next St. Mary’s runner to cross, placing 31st overall in 25:49.
For the men, the first Seahawk to finish for the day was senior Eric Ortiz who placed 25th in 27:53. Sophomore Adam Scrivener, a Huntingtown High School graduate from Prince Frederick, was the fourth St. Mary’s runner to cross the finish line, taking 44th overall in 28:40.
The teams will partic- ipate in the conference championships on Saturday in Hershey, Pa.
The women’s sailing team won their confer- ence championship, nar- rowly edging Georgetown by three points.
Skipper Carolyn Smith finished second in A Division and Greer Wattson tied for first in B Division.
The team received a berth to the Women’s Atlantic Coast Championship at College of Charleston.
The men’s and women’s rowing teams opened up their first season as a varsity sport on Oct. 15 at the Navy Day Regatta hosted by St. Joseph’s University (Pa.) on the Schuylkill River.
The Seahawks took 15th in the women’s freshmen/novice eight, 16th in the women’s junior varsity eight, 30th in the men’s varsity eight and 24th in the women’s varsity eight.
The teams return to Philadelphia on Saturday for the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta.
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