Women’s swim team breaks a long drought, hopes for more

Record-breaking freshman Elaine Dudley concentrates before a race in a swim meet against St. Michaels. She has been one of several freshmen who are bringing a new attitude and working to change the fortunes of the women’s swim team. Norwich Athletics Photo

Record-breaking freshman Elaine Dudley concentrates before a race in a swim meet against St. Michaels. She has been one of several freshmen who are bringing a new attitude and working to change the fortunes of the women’s swim team.
Norwich Athletics Photo

For the first time in six years, the Norwich University women’s swim team pulled off a win, 120-110, against Babson College. It was the women’s first win since 2009, and it was greeted by surprise and elation, spurring hopes of a turnaround for the program.

“I was double, triple checking the results after (the) meet…I was really surprised we won,” said the head coach of the Norwich University swim team, Andrew Bretscher. “The score was very close coming down to the end there in the points and I wasn’t sure till the very end if we won or not … Figuring out the points was challenging first, I thought we had it won but I didn’t want to tell the team and end up being wrong.”

Then the final score came up and it had the women’s swim team beating Babson by 10 points.

“The win definitely provides momentum moving forward,” said Bretscher. “This was one of the team goals this year, and being able to do it this early at this point in the season really helps providing confidence,” Bretscher said, adding that it would give the team a boost to “go out there compete against some of the top teams we compete against.” [Read more…]

Men’s and women’s cross country teams reflect on dual championships

The men and women’s cross country teams both took home the conference championship title for this year’s cross-country season, a remarkable accomplishment, according to head coach Nicholas Cooper.

“Both our men’s team and our women’s team each won their conference championship this year. It was the first time that Norwich had won a men’s and women’s GNAC cross country championship in the same year, which was one of our team goals for the year.”

According to Cooper, the men’s team ran over a total of 12,000 miles during the 13-week season and the women’s team ran over 7,000 miles – in addition to lifting and fulfilling the needs for their Corps of Cadets and ROTC training.

When it comes to conditioning for the sport, the runners need to prep for longer than just a preseason. “The cross country team prepares for their season by running a lot. Running is a sport that you can only get better at by putting in the work and in general the more work you put in the faster you will be. So we plan in terms of years and not in terms of seasons or weeks,” Cooper explained. [Read more…]

After 16-0 year, club hockey team has moved up and faces tougher competition

 

The men’s club ice hockey team is hoping to continue its success from the 2015-2016 undefeated campaign, but it faces tougher competition in a higher league this year.

“Last season we went undefeated and never played a team that challenged us,” said Mike Moschella, a junior criminal justice major, from Melrose, Mass. “The new league and playing better teams will definitely be a challenge but should help us improve. We’re excited for the challenge.”

The Cadets are now a Division II member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), playing in the East Collegiate Hockey Association (ECHA) after leaving the ranks of Division III. They compete with other Division II schools and prep school teams from across the Northeast such as Harvard University, Maine, University of Vermont and West Point in a fairly rigorous schedule that usually includes two weekend games.

“Playing teams like [West Point] and Harvard is completely different than the competition from last season,” said Cody Moore, 19, a sophomore forward and electrical engineering major from Canton, N.Y. “Going undefeated last season was nice but it’s more rewarding playing teams that can challenge us, like the schools in our league.”
[Read more…]

Bringing the “Sap Bucket” back was a key goal for Cadets this year

The Norwich University football program ended its 2016 campaign with a 35-27 victory over their archrivals Castleton University in the battle for the Maple Sap Bucket trophy. “We have always had this game circled on our schedule,” said quarterback Nolan Aurelia, a junior business management major from Stratford, Conn.
The rivalry game is beyond an ordinary game for NU football. “It’s a battle for the state of Vermont and determines who holds bragging rights for a whole year,” said defensive end David Heinsohn, a junior international studies major from Lorton, Va, “It is so important to us, it gives the team all the momentum going into next season’s matchup.”
After losing their last two games against Castleton University, the Cadets were eager to end their rival’s win streak. “Losing three years in a row to an archrival … we needed to avoid at all cost,” Aurelia said. “We have all the momentum right now, things are on our side and it is up to us to keep it that way.”
The two previous losses to their rivals was more than enough to drive the team.
[Read more…]

Former Norwich rugby star Joya Clark returns as coach of an opponent

Joya Clark was a star player with the Norwich women’s rugby team during its incredible run of six national championships. She was back at Norwich recently as a coach leading her Central Washington team to a big victory over her former coaches and team.

Joya Clark was a star player with the Norwich women’s rugby team during its incredible run of six national championships. She was back at Norwich recently as a coach leading her Central Washington team to a big victory over her former coaches and team.

On Oct. 1, Norwich’s Joya Clark came back to her home pitch on the opposite side of the field as an alumna, and as an opposing coach – and a winning one too.

Clark, a class of 2014 alumna, spent her time academically as a civilian criminal justice major at Norwich University, and in athletics as a leading member of a tough and historic women’s rugby team.

Clark graduated in 2014 in Norwich as one of the most decorated players in collegiate rugby history. She helped guide Norwich to a combined six national championships between 7s and 15s over her four-year career.

“The reason I was attracted to the school was that it was small and tucked away Vermont,” Clark said, “It all of what I was looking for, in a higher education, and then when you paired that with the opportunity to compete at the highest level of rugby it had to offer at the time.”

Her main goal besides academics was to play rugby at a varsity level.

“I believed it to be important to be a part of the University that supported rugby through its athletic department,” Clark said. “As for someone who always struggled to focus in the classroom, it was important to be a name, not a number, to a professor. The relationships I soon then formed with my professors not only encouraged me to succeed in their courses, but this enabled me to perform my best on-field as well.” [Read more…]

Finishing what they started

Forward Kevin Salvucci chases the puck behind Endicott College’s net in the first game of the season. His goal in the last seconds salvaged a 3-3 tie so Norwich remained undefeated early in the season.

Forward Kevin Salvucci chases the puck behind Endicott College’s net in the first game of the season. His goal in the last seconds salvaged a 3-3 tie so Norwich remained undefeated early in the season. NU Sports photo.

The Norwich University Men’s Ice Hockey Team has unfinished business after last year’s disappointing season. Last season led the team to snap a 17-year-long win streak by failing to finish the regular season on tops of the GNAC standings. After sporting a 17-8-2 overall record (11-5-2 conference record), the team would have had a successful season by the standards of most schools. For Norwich, however, anything less than a perfect season is considered unacceptable.

“We know that we have the potential and the ability to be the best in the nation. Last season we fell short on that goal,” said defenseman Brian Rowland, 23, a senior business management major from Waltham, Mass.

With victories over Southern Maine and a 9-1 whitewashing of Daniel Webster, and a 3-3 draw against Endicott thanks to a goal with 1.6 seconds left in the game, the Cadets are off to a strong start.

To ensure that the players’ heads were in the right place, Mike McShane, head coach for the Cadets, scheduled a leadership seminar with Dr. John Yeager, the director of Center for Character Excellence at Culver Academy (Culver, Indiana). During this seminar, players were split up into groups and were encouraged to share information in order to improve and meet their goals for the season. As a product of the seminar and resulting attitude shift in players, the men’s ice hockey team has embraced a motto for the upcoming 2016-2017 season.

“We all agreed that the motto, “Leave nothing behind,” embraces our mentality as a whole. With 10 seniors on the team this year, we all want to do our absolute best so they can say goodbye to this program on the highest note possible. The seniors have put a huge amount of time and effort into Norwich hockey, and the rest of us want to succeed to see their time and effort pay off,” said forward Kevin Salvucci, 23, a junior health science major from Plymouth, Mass. [Read more…]

Report by researchers finds serious flaws in hockey helmets

Norwich hockey players put a lot of faith in their helmets to protect against concussions. A report from Virginia Tech scored most helmets poorly on accomplishing that job.

Norwich hockey players put a lot of faith in their helmets to protect against concussions. A report from Virginia Tech scored most helmets poorly on accomplishing that job. Photo by Darwin Carozza

 According to a recent independent study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech, more than a quarter of all hockey helmets on the market are considered unsafe. 

In 2011, Virginia Tech did a similar study on football helmets. The ratings were shocking and caused the companies to do an overhaul on their products to make them safer, while one company even went out of business. 

“After looking at this study, it is kind of scary and eye-opening to know that a lot of teams I have played for in the past and even including this team, issue helmets with a zero-star rating,” said Tyler Piacentini, a forward on the team and a senior communication major from South Weymouth, Mass.

At Virginia Tech, the helmets were tested on a five-star rating, five being the highest and safest and one being the lowest. Of the 32 helmets that are available for purchase, nine failed to earn a single star. The highest-rated helmet available was a helmet made by Warrior Hockey which earned three stars, while the rest either earned one or two stars. Before the test just one helmet received five stars; soon after the results came out, 12 redesigned helmets were given a grade of five stars. 

[Read more…]

Australian Defense Force battles women’s Norwich rugby

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An Australian team member cuts back to avoid three Norwich women’s rugby players.

The Norwich University Women’s Rugby team found it was not easy to play the unstoppable Australian Defense Forces (ADF) team. The Australians won a match by a landslide, 54-5, due to their unbeatable tactics and fast-paced play during the Oct. 7 match on the Dog River Pitch. But for the Norwich women’s team, it was a great experience to go up against the physically fast and tough military team.

Rugby has been quite a popular sport at Norwich, on both the men and women’s side. The chance to play female military personnel all the way from Australia was a significant opportunity coordinated in a joint effort between Thy Yang, the assistant vice president for international education, and Austin Hall, Norwich University Women’s rugby coach.

“The Australian Defense Force first contacted me last summer about getting this organized,” said Hall. “This game was in the works for a while, but picked up speed quite fast.” [Read more…]

Men’s rugby off to great start in revised conference

The Norwich University men’s rugby team is facing a new opponent and missing old foes after changes were made to the conference it plays in this year. So far it is off to a great start, going 7-0 in an undefeated season. The rugby team gained that status with a convincing 39-12 victory over NECRC rival University of Vermont.

The Cadets’ victory clinched the NECRC 2016 Conference Championship and gives them an automatic bid to the USA Division II Collegiate Rugby National Sweet Sixteen.

“Norwich has competed in the New England Rugby Collegiate Conference (NECRC) for several seasons,” said Tanner Acebo, the Athletic Communications Department multimedia specialist. But the men’s rugby team had a change in their conference leading two teams to leave the conference: Boston University and Coast Guard Academy. After playing in a different division, the East Coast Rugby Conference (ECRC) for a while, “Middlebury College has come back to the [NECRC]” Acebo said.

“Middlebury will be joined by the University of Vermont, the University of Rhode Island, the University of New Hampshire and Norwich University in the NECRC. “In a way, our conference got stronger; [however,] losing Coast Guard was a loss because they were our only real military team that we faced in the season” said Taualupe Tau, a junior communication major. Said Bob Weggler, the Norwich rugby coach, “It’s just something [Coast Guard] needed to do as a school.”

The Middlebury rugby team made the decision to come to NECRC by a blind vote that involved the entire team and coaching staff and with the majority voting to move conferences, according to a press release from the Middlebury College Rugby Club’s website. “We believe this new direction will help to stabilize the trajectory of the club after a lengthy period of coaching instability and provide all members with a rewarding experience,” the statement from the club said.

As a result of the move, Norwich finally will get an in-state rivalry. “We still play some of the same teams such as University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire and University of Rhode Island,” Acebo said. The new conference structure will allow Norwich to play each school in the conference twice, meaning each team will play once at home and once on the opposing school’s pitch. The winner of the NECRC moves onto the USA Fall Rugby National Championship.

This year’s senior captains are senior pack leader James Rowan from Fairfax, Va., senior Eric Pierone from Rotterdam, N.Y., senior flanker Richard Berlandy from Farmington, Conn., senior hooker Matt Rambin from Fairfax, Va., and junior Tom St. Pierre from Warwick, R.I. The team has returned 26 players from that squad while bringing in eight newcomers. Norwich is one of the few men’s rugby teams that has achieved varsity status, while some schools are still at the club level, such as Middlebury.

According to the Norwich University athletics website, Weggler cited some key freshmen that might crack the lineup early. “Freshman Keyon McCloud-Holman, Philadelphia, Pa., at prop, earned our man of the match honors in our scrimmage against Colgate, so he will factor in early. “However, for many of the other players, it is a big jump going from the high school level to the college level so they might need a little more time to adjust to the style of play.” he added.

“Morale has come up a little bit just because it does make things easier and with the weeks off it means we won’t have players missing due to the Army ROTC Field Training Exercise … We are just taking it day by day. We dropped two teams and gained one team,” said team member Jacob McMullen. a junior. Tau felt the changes will mean better competiton, “with Middlebury College coming from a Division I down to a Division II conference, they will be a challenge and give us a run for our money; everyone wants to win [so] no one is really down with the two teams leaving and Middlebury coming in.”

Gordon Winget, a senior wing and full-back on “B” side, said “with the changes in the conference it will be a lot harder, with Coast Guard gone we have to focus more on another team like URI … The team will have to focus and concentrate more, the team is coming in with the mindset of every day we have to push ourselves harder than the last day.”

Even though the conference has had some adjustments made to it, the Norwich men’s team has not changed their playing style. “Every game is a new game and every week is a new week that’s what we need to look toward. Our goal is to win the conference, so that’s what we remind ourselves every day at practice and game,” Winget said.

At 7-0, it looks as if that goal is in sight.

New soccer coach Adam Pfeifer hopes to continue team’s success

Pfeifer_copyAfter 10 years under the same coach, men’s soccer is under new leadership with coach Adam Pfeifer.

The announcement of his hiring by Norwich University Director of Athletics Tony Mariano on March 11 comes several months after coach Kyle Dezotell departed for Manhattanville in January.

Pfeifer will become the 10th head coach in program history, following Dezotell’s 10-year reign. “I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to lead the Norwich men’s soccer program,” said Pfeifer. “Very few coaches have the privilege to take over a program that has such a solid foundation; I am grateful to coach Dezotell and his staff for the work they have done.”

Pfeifer comes to Norwich after serving two years as assistant coach for Middlebury College under legendary head coach David Saward. He also served as the associate head coach at Northeastern University for eight seasons prior to being an assistant with Middlebury College.

“I want to thank Tony Mariano and the entire athletic department staff for believing in me and giving me this great opportunity,” said Pfeifer. “I also want to thank the coaches that have given me opportunities in college soccer, Brian Ainscough, Dave Saward, and my college coach Ed Kelly. They have all played a major role in cultivating my love for the game and helping me develop as a person and a coach.” [Read more…]