College of Southern Maryland fall sports ready to roll
Soccer, volleyball teams seeking region success
Players and coaches from the various College of Southern Maryland fall sports teams who convened in the gymnasium offices for the school’s media day last Monday all arrived and departed with a keen sense of optimism.
Over the past two seasons, the College of Southern Maryland volleyball team has clearly emerged as the school’s best squad among the fall teams and firstyear coach Jenica Leonard is poised to maintain that distinction. Leonard takes over for Ashley Wolfe, who was the All-Region XX and Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference co-coach of the year in 2016.
On Sept. 5, the Hawks were swept by visiting Montgomery Community College, 25-10, 25-19, 25-16. Leonard attributed much of the difference in the outcome to nervousness and communication issues, both of which can impact a youthful squad in its season opener.
“There still young and new to one another,” said Leonard, a Howard University graduate who coached last fall at Georgetown Visitation Prep School in Washington, D.C. “They’re still getting used to playing with one another. I thought part of it was nerves, but we still have some communication details to iron out. This team has a world of potential and tonight was just their first match.”
Sophomores Reagan Tuiasosopo, Savanna Carroll and Samantha Rerig along with freshmen Katelyn Kluh, Shelby Midgett, Alyssa Wilson, Gabrielle Wilson and Zaiera Duckett complete the small, youthful Hawks roster this fall. Tuiasosopo displayed plenty of power up front at outside hitter, as did Duckett, while Alyssa Wilson covered ample ground as the libero on Wednesday.
“We have a lot of goals for the team this season,” said Kluh, a recent La Plata High School graduate. “But mainly we all want to keep getting better and keep working together with each other and our coaches so that we can hit all of those goals this season.”
The CSM men’s soccer team welcomed a new coach in former player and alum Jake Shelton who is eager to restore the program to prominence.
Shelton was a member of the Hawks 19-1-1 team his freshmen season under former coach Tony Galeano, now the men’s soccer coach at Prince George’s Community College. CSM was thumped, 7-1, on Sept. 5 by Northern Virginia in its season opener.
“We have already hit the ground running for the fall,” Shelton said. “I have a clear vision for where I want to take this program and the players who are a part of it. I am very excited to see the success that will come to the CSM men’s soccer program.”
CSM got its lone goal with three minutes remaining when Nicholas Krisko sent a high shot that just found the left corner of the net. Hawks goalkeeper Hunter Van Zandt was busy throughout the day, recording 11 saves on 18 shots. Northern Virginia’s last goal came on a penalty kick with just over six minutes remaining.
CSM first-year head women’s soccer coach Nina Duron, an assistant on the squad last fall, headed into the slate with 11 freshmen and only one sophomore on the roster. But Duron is eager to build the foundation for future success with this year’s youthful group and the vast majority of her players this fall will be back next season.
“My main goal this year is to develop this group into the best unit possible,” said Duron, whose team opened the season on Aug. 30 with a 6-0 victory at Patrick Henry (Va.). “We have two very good goalies who are going to compete for the starting spot each week and we have a lot of very good freshmen who are going to get a lot of experience this season that should benefit them coming back next year.”
One of those freshmen, Westlake High School graduate Maui Gianan, will play one of the key supporting roles on defense for the youthful Hawks this fall and looked forward to the upcoming slate.
“Being on this team is a lot like playing for Westlake,” said Gianan, who plans to attain her criminal justice degree at the University of Maryland. “There are a lot of girls that I got used to playing against on the team, but now that we’re on all in college, everyone here is stronger and faster. The competition is going to be a lot tougher than what we faced in SMAC.”
CSM will have only one sophomore on the roster, Leslie Gomez, and a bevy of freshmen including Gianan, Karleigh Cohen, Tamara Johnson, Jordan Griffith, Kuerra Buerger, Jenna Purdy and Carley Hebb. Johnson scored three goals in the win over Patrick Henry and Cohen added two, with Gianan getting the other. Hebb made one save to earn the shutout.
CSM will have a coed cross country team this fall that will compete in four meets and the lone female on the squad, Sierra Walker, is eager to find out if competing in a handful of 5K events over the summer will translate into success during the college slate.
“I competed in several 5K’s over the summer and I want to see how those times will transfer over to the 6K’s in college,” Walker said. “I definitely feel like I’ve gotten faster and stronger over the summer.”