Sports teams ready to shine

School has begun on the River Campus, and so has the 2015-16 University of Rochester athletic season.

Seven teams will represent the Yellowjackets this fall, and here’s a quick look at them.

CROSS COUNTRY

 The men’s team finished 11th at the NCAA Atlantic Regional Run last season and return junior Eric Franklin (Mount Laurel, N.J.), who earned All-University Athletic Association and All-Region honors. The women’s team will be led by senior Katie Knox (Worcester, Mass.), who earned All-UAA and All-Region honors as well.

Eddie Novara will coach the men's and women's cross country teams.

Eddie Novara is the new cross country coach.

 

Eddie Novara takes over as coach of both teams. The 2012 SUNY Geneseo graduate spent the past two years as an assistant coach at Binghamton University.

Novara made quite a mark on the Geneseo track. He earned three straight All-America honors in cross country (2009-11) as well as All-Region honors in each of those seasons. In his senior year, he helped the Knights to a runnerup team finish at the NCAA Atlantic Regionals and a fourth place finish at the NCAA Division III Championships.

 

 

 

 

FIELD HOCKEY

Head coach Wendy Andreatta has her team on the rise. Rochester won the Liberty League title last year for the first time ever and returns All-Americans Tara Lamberti (Penfield) in goal and Michelle Relin (Lititz, Pa.) on the forward line. Relin is Rochester’s all-time leading scorer, with 57 goals in 64 games.

FOOTBALL

The Yellowjackets return the majority of their starters from last season’s 5-4 club, including the eight players who earned All-Liberty League honors.

Sophomore quarterback Dan Bronson ’18 was the Liberty League and ECAC Upstate Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014. (Photo courtesey of University of Rochester Athletics.)

Sophomore quarterback Dan Bronson ’18 was named the Liberty League and ECAC Upstate Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014.

 

Junior running back Myles Allen (Bethesda, Md.) and sophomore quarterback Daniel Bronson (Lockport) are among the top players back. The Yellowjackets have five home games this fall. The first is Saturday, Sept. 19 against Alfred State College. Kickoff is at noon at Fauver Stadium.

MEN’S SOCCER

The Yellowjackets made the NCAA Division III Tournament for the ninth time in 10 years last fall, reaching the second round and finishing 10-5-4. They were ranked 20th in the preseason poll of the National Soccer Coaches of America. Senior defender Jeff Fafinski (Rochester/McQuaid Jesuit) keys a defense that posted nine shutouts and held four other teams to one goal.

Head coach Chris Apple is 177-49-38 entering his 15th season. Rochester enters the season five victories shy of 600 all time.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

The Yellowjackets finished 6-8-4 with a stingy defense that held 13 foes to one goal or fewer.

They return sophomore forward Laura Cowie-Haskell (Marshfield, Mass.), who led the team in scoring with 10 points (4 goals, 2 assists) in her first college season.

Three of her four goals were game-winners.

Laura Cowie-Haskell led the women's soccer team in scoring as a freshman last fall.

Laura Cowie-Haskell led the women’s soccer team in scoring as a freshman last fall.

Another key returnee is junior midfielder Kim Stagg, a first-team All-UAA selection last fall. Stagg started all 18 games for Rochester and finished second in scoring with three goals and two assists for eight points.

Fifth-year coach “Sike” Dardaganis said he placed a premium on fitness during preseason practices. He believes this team is the fittest in his tenure at Rochester.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL

With six wins in their last eight matches, the Yellowjackets stormed to a 17-19 finish overall, including a sixth place finish at the UAA Tournament. Rochester will host the conference championships at the Palestra and Zornow Sports Center on Nov. 6-7. The UAA champion earns an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. Senior outside hitter Jennie Ford (Webster) led the team with 279 kills last season and was first in the UAA in service aces (60) and 75th in all of Division III.

For schedules, results, rosters, statistics, player and coaches bios, photos and much more, go to uofrathletics.com

 

 

 

 

 

Star athlete brings passion, tenacity to the table

A University undergraduate is making waves in the world of competitive sports, though his typical playing field may be a bit smaller than your average stadium.  Instead, Vitraag Mehta ’17 dominates arenas as small as 80 square feet as an athlete in the world of competitive table tennis.  This past spring, Mehta advanced to the championship round of the National Collegiate Table Tennis Association (NCTTA) held in April in Eau Clair, Wisconsin.

vitMehta’s athletic roots began in his hometown of Mumbai, India.  Starting in 2004, he began under the instruction of coach Pradeep Gupta.  Since then, Mehta developed a decade worth of experience in the sport that has allowed him to gain renown as an international competitor.  He has competed on behalf of the city of Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra.  He has even once represented India, serving as one of the nation’s team captains at an international tournament in Bahrain in 2010.

While his competitive history speaks volumes to his skill and passion, Mehta often finds himself prompted to answer the simple question: “… but why table tennis?”  The answer, to him, is simple.  “It’s the fastest ball game in the world,” he said.  Mehta cites tenacity, agility, and both mental and physical endurance as key skills required for the sport, all attributes that he’s proud to have developed over the years.  He is most thankful for the opportunity for growth that he has received as an athlete.  “It’s offered me another dimension by which to look at myself,” he said, accepting of the rigor and toil that the sport has demanded.

This past year was Mehta’s first experience competing in the American circuit.  His competitive run began at a divisional tournament for upstate New York held at RIT in February.  He placed second overall at the competition, earning him a spot at the regional level.  The advancement to the next competition took him to Akron, Ohio for the Great Lakes regional round.  Here, Mehta placed as a semi-finalist in the men’s singles bracket, which allowed him to qualify for the national NCTTA tournament.

The national competition was held in Eau Clair, Wisconsin on April 9th and 10th.  Mehta entered the competition already ranked within the top 20 of the 80 qualifying participants, representing colleges across the nation.  While Mehta advanced through the initial main draw of 64 competitors, his advancement would come to a stop within the top 32.  Mehta holds no regret in this loss, however.  “I went down losing to a very high ranked competitor,” he said.  Paired with his final ranking among the top 25 young men in the circuit, Mehta ended the competitive season with pride.

Mehta enjoyed being able to represent the YellowJackets on a national level.  “I took great pride and dignity in representing my campus,” he admitted.  Competing against collegiate players that rank within the olympic level, he was happy to prove the caliber of skill that is not unique to U of R’s athletics.  His efforts did not go unrecognized by the campus, with the Dean of Students and the Club Sports Council aiding in the funding and subsidizing of his travels throughout the year.

While this year was a learning experience for the rising junior, he also viewed it as the beginning of an opportunity to earn table tennis the respect that he believes it deserves.  “I think it deserves more recognition.  It requires a lot more physical strength, mental capacity, and strategy than people think,” he said.

Mehta’s competitive drive did not detract from his scholastic activities; he also boasts academic excellence in his study of financial economics.  He also participates in Meliora Capital Management, LLC and the Debate Union.  His involvement also branches out into the performing arts as you can also find him singing with After Hours Co-Ed A Cappella and the Association for the Development of Interest in the Indian Subcontinent (ADITI).

In sharing his recent exploits, Mehta hopes to be able to share the sport with others, both on campus and beyond.  “I hope to be able to teach the sport to others,” he said.  Though for now, he’ll be playing with the Genesee Valley Table Tennis Community (GVTTC), he hopes to form a club in the community to help expand interest.  Through table tennis, Mehta’s ultimate hope is to imbue the Greater Rochester community with the same energy and intensity that the fast-paced sport has offered him.