Fall Semester Sports Preview: What to Watch For

Posted on 9/11/2015 8:54:58 AM

IUP Fall Sports Preview

Classes are underway, and so is the fall sports season, with eight teams in seven sports competing across campus for championships in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Here’s a look at each team that competes in the fall semester, and don’t forget, as a student with a valid I-Card, you get into every regular-season game for free.

Cross Country

Alex HampelThe IUP men’s team is awfully young, but pretty talented. The Crimson Hawks have only one senior on their roster, but they got off to a solid start when they took first place in the team standings at the Doug Watts Distance Gala at Edinboro. The win was the program’s first team win at an event like that in three years.

The top finisher for IUP was Alex Hampel, who placed third overall.

On the women’s side, senior Rachel Magliane, who placed 25th at regionals last year, leads the Crimson Hawks after a solid junior season.

Both IUP cross country teams compete in the PSAC championships at Slippery Rock on October 24.

Field Hockey

Haley FidlerWithout a single senior (and only five juniors) on the roster, the Crimson Hawks are one of the younger field hockey teams in the PSAC. But that doesn’t mean the team has lowered expectations.

Instead, the Hawks are hoping to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012 and win their first conference championship since 2007. They will be led by junior Haley Fidler, their top returning scorer from last season, who had a combined four points in IUP’s first two games this year.

But here’s something to remember: IUP finishes its regular season with six consecutive home games in a span of 14 days, from October 17 to 31. They’ll need your support down the home stretch as they compete for another playoff berth.

Football

Kevin ClarkeThe IUP football team was picked fifth in the eight-team PSAC West preseason coaches’ poll, and the Crimson Hawks are using that as motivation to get things turned around after a sub-par 2014 season.

Among the players back who could have big seasons are: running back Luigi Lista-Brinza, wide receiver Walt Pegues, defensive end Karon Gibson, linebacker Kevin Clarke, and safety Eric Williams.

IUP has remaining home games against, Lock Haven, Edinboro, California, and Gannon, with the battle vs. California being a night game (6 p.m.) with a regional TV audience.

The Hawks’ Nest student section will be the place to be on Saturdays, so be ready and be loud.

Golf

Kenneth SamesOne of the most successful golf programs over the past few decades, the Crimson Hawks yet again have high hopes of getting back to the NCAA championships, where they finished 13th last season.

They return senior Kenneth Sames, an all-region selection and the defending PSAC Men’s Golfer of the Year; plus junior Max Kirsch, who was also named to the all-region and all-conference teams last year.

The golf season gets split between the fall and spring semesters, with the PSAC championships scheduled for October 17 and 18 in Hershey. The national championships will be in May.

Soccer

Lexie PalluconiA year after advancing to the PSAC playoffs, the IUP soccer team faces a tough climb this fall with a young roster and little playing experience.

The Crimson Hawks’ leading returning scorer is Lexie Palluconi, a sophomore midfielder. She joins two seniors, goalkeeper Ashley Schoelkopf, and defender Kelly Jacobson, in trying to get the program back to the playoffs in the 15th season under coach Adel Heder.

If you’re looking for one game to attend at the South Campus Field, make it the October 3 game against East Stroudsburg. The Warriors are the defending PSAC champs and the team that knocked IUP out of the playoffs last season.

Tennis

Jarka PetercakovaAfter five straight appearances in the PSAC championship match and the NCAA Division II playoffs, the IUP tennis team has hopes of achieving more, and they’ll take the courts with a veteran roster, including all-PSAC pick Jarka Petercakova.

But there’s also five other players who were starters last season, including Sophie Butland, Raquel Gonzalez, Alanna McFail, Luise Von Agris, and Rachel Wood.

Like golf, the tennis season is split between the two semesters. The league, region and national championships are in May.

Volleyball

 Meghan SchneiderNew coach Scott Pennewill has a young roster he hopes to mold into a winner, led by three of its top five scorers from a year ago, Alexis Anderson, Lily McWilliams, and Meghan Schneider. The only senior on the roster is Schneider.

The big match coming up is Tuesday, October 6, against Clarion, the preseason favorite to win the PSAC West. In addition to a big game against a rival, it will be a DIG PINK match as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.