Fall sports teams gearing up for mid-season conference action

No. 12 Trisha Holland goes up for the spike in Carroll's victory over Carthage, Sept. 18. Photo by Nate Ellingson

Aaron Becker
Staff Writer

After a third place (5-4) finish in the Midwest Conference last season, first-year head coach Jeff Voris and the 56 members of the Pioneer football team are looking to continue Carroll’s recent history of gridiron supremacy.

In order to do this, however, the team will need to overcome the persistent obstacle of the season: position depth. This year’s preseason training camp witnessed a handful of would-be players drop out or suffer season-ending injuries, leaving some positions with one or no backups. The Pioneers now hold an 0-3 overall record after two close defeats. In the season opener on Sept. 8, the team lost to non-conference opponent North Park College 13-3. Carroll then suffered a 38-26 conference loss to Ripon College Sept. 22. Carroll lost to Grinnell on Saturday 54-27.

Men’s soccer
The Carroll men’s soccer team is off to a solid start, maintaining a 2-1 conference record and a 4-2 overall record. The team finished in eighth place with a 3-6 conference record last season.

With the 2001 season still fresh and a solid record to date, head coach Rick Mobley and the team’s 27 players are keeping their eyes on the prize — a trip to the Midwest Conference Tournament. In order to accomplish this goal, the team must win at least four more conference games. Although a preseason poll predicted the team to finish in seventh place, Mobley believes his players have more to offer.

“This year”s team is much more talented from top to bottom than [Carroll’s] teams in the past,” he said. “In addition to being bigger and faster, they are also more skillful.”

The coach said his key players are junior forward Joe Snyder, sophomore goalkeeper Dan Peplinski and junior defender Aaron Manske.

“We probably have more depth than any other team in the conference,” Mobley said. “We also possess pretty good team speed and big defenders that are good in the air.”

“I think right now they understand (our new zone defense scheme) very well and are beginning to excel in it,” he added.

Cross country
According to head coach Rich Vargas, the 11-member men’s cross country team, which finished in eighth place last season, is expected to finish in the top five in the Midwest Conference this year. The women’s team, on the other hand, should finish in the top three. The women captured the conference trophy in the 2000 season.

At the Elmhurst Earlybird Invitational Sept. 1, the Carroll men’s team captured ninth place out of 16 teams, while the women took sixth place out of 18 teams. Vargas said his goals for the season are to have his runners run their best when it counts and give their best effort during every meet.

“We compete against the best colleges around,” Vargas said. “That means that we get beat a lot, but that also means that the kids go faster when it counts.”

He stressed there are no key runners on his team, saying, “Everybody on the team is a key player. We need each other to win.”

Women’s soccer
First-year head coach Jason Bretzmann has nothing but good things to say about the Carroll women’s soccer team.

“The people who are on the team are just great people,” he said. “It’s a great treat to be with them every day. Their positive attitude, their willingness to try something new and their desire to win is impressive.”

Thus far, the 20-member team has compiled a 3-1 conference record and a 6-1 overall record under Bretzmann’s leadership, hinting the team is stronger than it was last year. The 2000 team finished 4-5 in conference play.

The team is on pace to achieve its goals of winning at least 10 games and making the Midwest Conference Tournament. After seven of 15 regular season games, the team has scored 90 percent of the goals scored last year.

“We don’t see any reason that we can’t win every game,” the coach said. Bretzmann said his key players are June Fitzpatrick, Rachel Akers, Becky Meier and Sara Werner.

“Every person on our team is essential to our program right now,” he added. “It takes all of us to make a successful team.”

Women’s tennis
The 10-member Carroll women’s tennis team is off to an impressive start, compiling a 4-1 conference record and a 6-2 overall record.

The team finished in third place in both of the last two seasons. This year, head coach Jennifer Kools expects the team to finish in second or third place.

In order to get into the championship playoffs, however, the team must beat Ripon College, a tough team, in Kools’ opinion. Another possible foe for the Pioneers will be Beloit College, which Kools describes as “extremely tough.”

Her goals for her players are to play more aggressively, be in their best physical and mental shape, finish in the top four in the Midwest Conference, maintain a cohesive team on and off the court, represent the college positively and, above all, to win.

This year’s key players are senior Jaclyn Sturman, freshman Lauren Young and junior Katherine Colby, the coach said. Kools said her team’s advantages this season are its good sportsmanship and solid talent throughout the lineup.

A 16-19 overall record and a third place conference finish last season will give the Carroll women’s volleyball team the confidence it will need to reach head coach David MacIntyre’s hope of finishing in the Midwest Conference’s top four. MacIntyre said a top four finish is possible for two reasons: (1) the overall talent of the team, and (2) Carroll’s hosting of the conference tournament Nov. 2-3.

Currently, the 12-member team holds an 0-1 conference record and a 4-6 overall record.

“We are most successful as a team when everyone plays well,” MacIntyre said. “Every win will be a team effort.”

The coach said his goals for the season are to play confidently, competitively and aggressively. He also hopes each player will see improvement in her skills and enjoy playing the game.

“Our leadership and team cohesion this year is very strong,” he said. “I think that those two aspects have improved each of the past few years.”

The team’s key players include senior captains Michelle Beardsley and Trisha Holland, MacIntyre said.

“If we can run a consistent, quick offense, we will have an advantage over other teams,” he added.

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