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Optimism abounds in fall sports

Sayaka Abe ’17, who was first team All-Region last year, will lead the midfield for the Yellowjackets field hockey team this fall.

By Dennis O’Donnell
Men’s soccer: Rochester returns a strong and seasoned nucleus from 2015, including All-UAA honoree Ben Swanger, who will anchor the midfield. Tanner Chester, Zach Kanaley, and Mike Cross form a tough back line while Jeff Greblick, Brendan Kelly, and Alessandro Incerto are seasoned forwards. A committed corps of underclassmen offer a balanced supporting cast with returnees Bryce Ikeda and Aleks Dombrowski leading the way. Rochester leads all UAA schools with 10 men’s soccer titles and will be seeking its 11th when the league opens its 30th season this fall.

Women’s soccer: Three All-UAA honorees return in Kim Stagg plus Megan and McKenzie Runyan. Madi Lee and Samantha Hlavac will battle for time in net, protected by veterans including Alyssa Raskind, Hannah Geitner, Sydney Melton, and Jenny Sitrin. Only four (of 17) opponents scored more than one goal against Rochester last season. Lee Stagg and Paige Gloster head up the attack. Last year, Rochester played six nationally ranked teams and beat two of them on the road—1-0 at No. 15 RIT and 4-0 at No. 23 Case. Rochester has 12 UAA titles, first among UAA teams. Is the 13th looming?

Men’s cross country: Rochester has six of its top seven runners back from last season, led by Dan Nolte, Eric Franklin, and Forrest Hangen. All three finished in the top half of the field at the UAA championships. Hangen was 36th of 288 at the NCAA Atlantic Regionals. The Yellowjackets will challenge for a top five finish at UAAs and at the regional meet.

Women’s cross country: The Yellowjackets finished second at UAAs last year, the best finish in 25 years, and were fifth at the NCAA Atlantic regionals to book a spot at nationals. They finished 14th nationally. Look for Annie Peterson, Samantha Kitchen, Rachel Bargabos, and Audrey McCarthy to be among the leaders weekly.

Field hockey: For the second time in school history, Rochester advanced to the NCAA Elite 8 (18-6 last year). Ten players who appeared in 20-plus games return. There are 19 veterans overall. Kiran Sundaram and Gabrielle Cantley will wear the goaltenders’ gear. The defense is mostly intact, led by Tiffany White and Lexie Wood as backfielders. The midfield will be led by Sayaka Abe, an All-Region honoree. Callie Fisher was third in scoring last year (8 goals, 3 assists, 19 points). She’ll be a focal point.

Football: Rochester wants to capitalize on the dual skills of QB Dan Bronson, who passed for nine TDs last year and ran for three more. He’ll be throwing to a big cast, including Kyle Allegrini (16.4 avg., 5 touchdowns), Nick Perpignan (11.3 avg., 2 touchdowns), and David Angie (9.3 avg., 1 touchdown). Dan DiLoreto caught nine passes, including one touchdown last season. Shane Saucier, who ran for four touchdowns in 2015, will head up the backfield. On the line, Trevor Robinson-Gray and David Berry lead the blockers. Matt Pisano (40 tackles, 1 sack) and Ricky Sparks (six pass breakups) top the secondary. Among the linebackers and defensive linemen, look for David Wolff (50 tackles), Peter Crossett (41 tackles, 4.5 sacks), and Colin Woods (40 tackles, 8 tackles for loss).

Golf: Three of the low scorers from last year are back. Jona Scott fired a 76.7 for 17 rounds, Daniel Luftspring had a 77.7 for 15 rounds, and Jason Paek shot a 77.9 for 17 rounds. Rochester tied for the Liberty League title, finished third of 15 at the Hershey Cup, and sixth out of 18 at the Flower City NCAA Preview.

Rowing: The women’s team returns a strong base of three seniors, nine juniors, and 12 sophomores. The three seniors—Crystal Hoffman, Alice Bandeian, and Morgan Miller—will be the leaders. The Yellowjackets will point to the Head of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia in late October as their benchmark heading into the spring season.

Men’s tennis: Rochester will rely on returning singles players Masaru Fujimaki, Aaron Mevorach, Andy Nunno, and Sam Leeman. Each man won at least nine singles matches in 2015–16. The Yellowjackets’ schedule includes two tournaments—the St. Lawrence Invitational and the ITA Northeast Regional Championships (at Hobart). The fall dual match comes against Roberts Wesleyan in late September.

Women’s tennis: Four returning starters will suit up for the women—Camila Garcia, Alex Wolkoff, Lauren Zickar, and Darby McCall. They combined for 39 singles wins last season. The women open the new year at the Mary Hosking Invitational at William Smith College in early September and then return to Geneva two weeks later for the ITA Northeast Regional Championships.

Women’s volleyball: Rochester returns an All-UAA defensive specialist in Meghan Connor who finished sixth in the league in digs (440) and fifth in aces (44). Alexandra Goldman led the UAA in solo blocks (28) and was eighth in total blocks (84). Setter Aimee Kohler was fifth in assists in the UAA (1,076) and registered 267 digs. Nina Baek had 189 digs and 35 aces while Shira Katz had 206 kills.