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Football, soccer and field hockey headline emerging fall sports season

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Football, soccer and field hockey headline emerging fall sports season

The St. A's football team on the field last season.

The St. A's football team on the field last season.

Crier\Livy Ashburne.

The St. A's football team on the field last season.

Crier\Livy Ashburne.

Crier\Livy Ashburne.

The St. A's football team on the field last season.

Glenn Krzeminski, Sports Editor

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This year brings a lot of hype surrounding fall sports at Saint Anselm College. The hiring of two new coaches, Joe Adam, a former Division 1 assistant at Syracuse University for football, and Bruno Victal, previously a player for the Brazilian national team taking over in soccer, might be seen as the most newsworthy. Other sports to keep an eye on include field hockey, after their historic season in 2015, as well as men’s tennis possessing a veteran squad of upperclassmen with seven juniors. Additional teams to watch this fall are men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball, and golf.

Football had a difficult season last year, going just 3-8, but the fresh start with a new coach and new systems in place can only be a good thing for the Hawks. Beyond Sports Network top-five D2 National Quarterback of the Week in 2014 Yianni Gavalas will be back for his final year as one of the conference’s most elite passers. Remember last year he suffered a season- ending injury only playing the first three contests.  The name Joe Adam may appear commonplace, but the vision and plans he and the team have at this small Division 2 liberal arts school are far from typical.

“We are excited about the upcoming season,” says Adam. “The three pillars of our program are Attitude, Effort and Enthusiasm. It is the motto we live by on this football team. I am looking forward to seeing this team compete. I feel there is a new attitude that I did not see here in the spring.

“Our players are working tremendously hard on the details and I am extremely proud of their resiliency thus far. Our team is looking forward to being great ambassadors of Saint Anselm College. We preach being a D1 program in a D2 shell. We practice and prepare just as when I coached in Division I athletics.”

One of the most memorable games for the team a year ago came early on in September when the Hawks erased a 20-2 halftime deficit, turning it into a 26-20 historic victory defeating American International College for the first time since 1941.

One of the veterans and seniors on this team, linebacker Mike Ryan talked about his new coach and how his team looked so far: “I’m really excited to be playing my senior year with Coach Adam. He brings an attitude of enthusiasm to practice every day and is determined to make sure that we, as players, give our best effort to whatever we do both on and off the field.

“I think this season is going to be great, because of all the work the team has put in during the off-season. As a team, we have really started to come together in our goals for the season.”

Also buzzing with the excitement of a new coach, the men’s soccer squad looks to rebound after a disappointing campaign where the Hawks went a dismal 3-12-2 with no wins in conference play. Coach Bruno Victal comes with the mindset of turning this team around. He brings a bevy of knowledge and experience having played 15 years as part of the Division 1 Academy in Brazil.  Anyone who has won hardware in the form of a bronze medal at the World University Games in Spain in 1999 must have an idea of how to be successful at the collegiate level. The Hawks have already flipped the page from last season and are stoked to get underway with Coach Victal at the helm.

Women’s soccer got off to a strong start with a 5-2-1 record after September and looked poised for a possible playoff berth and potentially more. As the leaves began to change color and with the calendar turning to October, the Hawks could not ever quite get the motor running again as they lost seven of the final nine games concluding the season under .500. But, the women will look to build upon their first half from last season and try to put a full season of good play together this year. They open against Saint Michael’s College on Sept. 2 in a Northeast 10 rivalry game as part of the Catholic Cup.

Meanwhile, field hockey is coming off an outstanding 15-4 mark, victorious in the first 6 games and 9 of their opening 10.  This was one of the sport’s best records in program history. Field hockey was no question one of the best squads last fall. The Hawks entered the playoffs on a high note, with the look of a team that would make a deep postseason run winning their last 6 contests, but shockingly fell in the opener to Stonehill College in a heart breaker 2 to 1.

The only fall team that plays indoors, volleyball, had a very young team last season with only three upperclassmen; the other 11 players were freshmen and sophomores. This was evident throughout the year as the Hawks went a pedestrian 9-15 overall, and 5-9 in the Northeast 10. Volleyball will be led by seniors Brennah Gladwill and CC Chrisom in 2016, and the women are prepared to put in whatever it takes to be better.

In comparison to some of the other teams last fall, golf performed well early, placing in the top four with two second-place finishes in its first 3 tournaments.  But, as with volleyball and soccer, golf struggled the rest of the season after their strong start recording just one top-five result.  This season the golf team is ready to hit the links looking to play better each time out. They open the year in Brunswick, Maine, at the Bowdoin Invitational.

On the tennis courts, the men and women also had tough seasons, but both have something to look forward to this year. For the men, they have seven juniors returning with their number one and two ready to lead the way, Eric Howes and Adam Weinstein. The men were a measly 3-12 last season, but the team has competed well in most matches as the score lines indicate. The squad grabbed back-to-back victories in March and looks to build upon this in the 2016-2017 campaign.

The tennis women, similar to their male counterparts, did not have as successful a season as they would have liked. They seemed to have turned the corner after winning 3 of their first 4 matches in October to get back to level play at 6-6. But, the end of the year was not so kind as the women’s tennis team dropped their last four matches. For sure, they had some strong play in certain matches, but just need to put the whole puzzle together this season. Unfortunately, the squad lost four key players to graduation, but look for the younger players to step up and accept the challenge to get tennis back on track.

Likewise, cross country had their ups and down too.  Last year the men had a pretty solid opening month with two top 5 finishes in their four meets.  As the days became shorter and the nights became cooler, the results were not as good.  The squad hopes 2016 is more successful, and they will train harder throughout the season for a better showing at the East Regional Championships in November.

As for the cross country women they were more consistent than the men as they recorded in the top 10 in five of their 8 meets, a very good sign for this upcoming season.  The squad also had a strong performance at the NCAA East Regional Championships placing 14th. Nonetheless both cross country teams host their annual Shacklette Invitational on Sept. 4 to begin the year.

Fall 2016 has the makings of a great season for Saint Anselm Athletics. The two new coaches for football and soccer were the major talk of the off-season. But, all of the squads have the ability to create their own headlines with their play and are capable of attaining greatness. From football to field hockey and all points in between, this is the time to be a part of Hawks sports as a player and as a fan. So, come out and support your fellow classmates and friends with blue and white pride. Go Hawks!

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Football, soccer and field hockey headline emerging fall sports season