The Rockland County Times today introduces our College Sports Notebook, compiled by veteran sports writer and columnist Marc Maturo, who is a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and former president of the International Boxing Writers Association (IBWA).
Maturo urges anyone connected with the collegiate sports scene to keep him posted, not only regarding local colleges but also with updates on local residents who are competing anywhere in the land in colleges and universities at any level. The notebook will be published every Thursday, and also can be visited at www.rocklandtimes.com. Please send items of interest to email@example.com.
Veteran coach Rich Jacobson of Nanuet has good cause for optimism as the women’s basketball team at Rockland Community College is coming off a 2011-2012 season punctuated by an appearance in the Mid-Hudson Conference final, and a Final Four appearance in the Region XV championship tournament.
Jacobson, in his fourth season at the helm, lost two starters from that squad — point guard Christine Brezovsky of Nanuet and forward Samantha Gabriel of Spring Valley – but was able to bring in a recruiting class that, he says, makes the Hawks even stronger than a year ago.
“Last year our deficiency was an inside post presence. It cost us a chance win the (Mid-Hudson) conference and win the region (NJCAA Region XV),” said Jacobson, whose teams have progressed each season.
RCC won three games in the coach’s first season, improved to six wins the following season, and went a highly impressive 21-11 last season.
“This year I’m looking to get to the next level – have the opportunity to win the conference and have a chance to play in the championship game in the region. Obviously, I’d like to win both and if so, great. But I’m just looking to take the next step,” Jacobson said. “Our recruiting effort was concentrated on getting a dominant post player, of which I got three. We have a much deeper bench and a more physical presence in the post.”
Taking over the critical point guard position is Section 1 all-county player Erika Richards of Tappan Zee HS in Orangeburg while 5-foot-10 Fiona Pierre of North Rockland is one of the three strong post players whom Jacobsen is boasting.
Alex Gundermann of Tuxedo, also 5-10, will share the center position with Pierre, depending on matchups.
“Sometimes I’ll use them together,” says Jacobson. “Fiona’s strictly a post player; Alex is a bit more versatile and can shoot the 3 (3-point shot).”
Other newcomers expected to make big contributions are 5-9 Prisley Arias of Suffern, and Akane Kenzaki, a transfer from Japan.
Key returnees include Nikki Saponaro of Nanuet, Melissa Loughnane of Pearl River and Kathy Sovak of Tuxedo. All three averaged more than 10 points per game last season. Saponaro added four assists and four steals a game for the Hawks, who will compete this weekend at the North Country CC Invitational in Lake Placid.
RCC returns home on Nov. 13 to face Orange CC at 5:30 p.m., and on Nov. 15, also at 5:30, welcomes rival Westchester CC to the Hawks’ campus in Suffern. Both games open doubleheaders that also feature the men’s team.
The vagaries of coaching at the junior college level are well-understood, as players often come and go and, even if they stick, have just two years at best to flaunt their talent, and no one appreciates the challenges more than Jacobsen.
“Coaching at the JC level is tough,” he says. “It’s tough to get kids and once you get them, you have to stay on them to stay in class. It’s hard work, but I enjoy it. And this season I’m not too worried about academics … Erica (Richards) is very versatile and quick and hustles back on defense. We should be much, much better as long as we stay healthy.”
Last year, RCC lost to Nassau CC in the Final Four of the Region XV championship tournament, and Nassau won the title to advance to the national tournament.
This year, perhaps, might be just the time for the Hawks to be flying ever higher.
Walker in spotlight again
Senior guard Alaina Walker of Pomona, a stalwart on the St. Bonaventure University women’s basketball team, has been named to the Preseason All-Defensive Team, in voting conducted by the league’s 16 head coaches.
Walker, a graduate of Albertus Magnus High School, was named to the 2012 Atlantic 10 all-Defensive team at the end of last season. Consistently asked to guard the opposing team’s top player, Walker started all 35 games for the Bonnies last season averaging 6.3 points and 5.2 rebounds.
St. Bonaventure opens its season on Nov. 10 in the Reilly Center against the Binghamton University Bearcats at 1 p.m.
· Junior defensive end Gabe Ostrow of Nanuet leads the once-beaten SUNY Cortland football team with six sacks. The 6-foot-1, 240-pounder has 26 solo tackles and 19 assisted for the Red Dragons, who defeated Kean University, 31-17, in Union, N.J., for their seventh straight victory following a season-opening 49-31 loss at Buffalo State. The Red Dragons, ranked 23rd nationally, have one regular-season game remaining –its annual Cortaca Jug rivalry game versus Ithaca in Cortland Nov. 10. The NCAA tournament begins Nov. 17, with the pairings to be announced Nov. 11. Cortland will be making its third NCAA appearance in five years and its eighth overall. game will not be rescheduled. Cortland (7-1 overall, 7-0 NJAC) will complete the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 10, at noon when it hosts a non-league game versus Ithaca in rivalry game. Cortland clinched the NJAC title with its victory last Saturday at Kean and has earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Div. III playoffs, which begin Nov. 17.
· Clarkstown North alumna Meghan King of New City posted her third double-double of the season as the College of New Rochelle women’s volleyball team clinched the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Hudson Valley Women’s Athletic Conference (HVWAC) Championships with a 3-1 conference win over visiting Yeshiva University. King, a sophomore who plays outside hitter, had a career-high 17 kills and 17 digs, adding a match-high eight service aces. The 17 kills were the most for a Blue Angel since Oct. 15, 2010. King leads the Blue Angels with 155 kills and 80 service aces, while sophomore Diana Desir, a Spring Valley HS graduate, has 18 kills and 83 digs. The Blue Angels (10-13) next compete in the NVWAC quarterfinals at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville.he NJAC title with its victory last Saturday at Kean and has earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Div. III playoffs, which begin Nov. 17.
· Southern Connecticut State University freshman guard Nicole Grossbard of Pearl River opens her collegiate career when the Owls welcome Dowling College to New Haven, Conn., at 1 p.m. on Nov. 10.
· Julio Melendez of Valley Cottage, a Nyack HS graduate, is completing his freshman season on the cross-country team at SUNY Cortland. The Red Dragons next compete at the NCAA Division III Atlantic Regional Championships on Nov. 10 at the University of Rochester.
· The Nyack College women’s soccer team, which led 3-1 at halftime, was upended by Georgian Court University in a penalty shootout in the opening round of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championships. The Warriors (8-8-2) now look ahead to the National Christian College East Region tournament. Melissa Richards of Nanuet, a freshman goalkeeper, has seen action in five games for Nyack.
· The wrath of Hurricane Sandy forced postponement of the men’s soccer quarterfinals in the CACC Championships. Dominican College in Orangeburg, seeded No. 2, was to host No. 7 Holy Family while No. 6 Nyack was to visit No. 3 Philadelphia. Make-up dates have yet to be determined. Clodalain Lolo of Stony Point, a sophomore forward out of North Rockland HS, is tied for the team lead with five points for Dominican. Four residents of New City are also on the Chargers’ squad: senior midfielder Dennis Kcira and junior defender Anthony Kcira, both Clarkstown North alums; Clarkstown South grad Chris Montera, a freshman midfielder; and junior midfielder Eric Jorgensen, a graduate of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, NJ.
· Junior Andrew Moscardelli of Pearl River is a reserve defenseman on the Wentworth College men’s hockey team. The Boston-based Red Dragons host Western New England on Nov. 8 at 8:15 p.m., then visit Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI, on Nov. 14 for a contest at 6:45 p.m.
This and that
· Coach Chris Dwyer’s North Rockland boys soccer team won its league title, as did coach Barry Baloga’s boys cross country team and coach Vin Apacelli’s girls soccer team. Thanks to quasi-official Rockland County scholastic sports historian Tom Doherty, of Pearl River HS fame, we also know that the North Rockland football team is ranked No. 11 in Class AA in the state, and the Raiders’ boys soccer team is ranked 10th. The boys volleyball team at Suffern, coached by Kim Cleary-Connolly, is rated No. 7 statewide.
· The Rockland Road Runners filled a void left by the cancellation of the New York City Marathon by staging an impromptu alternative 26-mile run/fund-raiser on the Joseph B. Clarke Rail-Trail between Sparkill and Orangeburg on Nov. 3. The course, along a mile-long paved path, attracted 18 runners. RRR member Elizabeth Apicella, who was set to make her marathon debut in New York, completed the 13-plus loops of the Clarke trail in 4:02.:20 and was the only competitor to go the distance. Others ran a half-marathon, led by Alan Young in 1:34.10. The group raised a total of $540 for People to People in its Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Club president Jamie Kempton hand-delivered the donation to People to People director Diane Serratore on Nov. 5. The RRR event was made possible by volunteers such as Bob Hudson, Peggy Marzell, Kathy Mahoney, Michelle Srebnik, Marie Killeen, Bill Carpenter, Jonathan Farrell, Larry Beckerle and Bernie Casserly.