Senior Erik van Ingen, center, not only won an America East individual title last season, but also qualified for the NCAA Championships by placing seventh overall out of 244 runners at the Northeast Regional Meet.
Photo by Shane Bufano
Fall sports preview: Cross country, volleyball look to continue their winning waysTweet
The fall sports season at Binghamton University has without question been the most successful time of the season for the athletic program. Between the soccer teams, volleyball squad and cross country programs, there have been six America East titles since 2003 and six runner-up finishes. Both men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball have made the conference tournament every year since 2004 and last season, the men’s cross country team sent its first-ever runner to the NCAA Championships. A look at this year’s programs makes it clear that the trend of outstanding fall seasons is likely to continue.
Under the leadership of 12th-year head coach Glenn Kiriyama, the volleyball squad is the favorite to win its second straight America East title and its third crown in the past six years. Last season, the Bearcats dethroned three-time defending champion Albany on the road and earned their second trip to the NCAA Tournament in five years.
Senior outside hitter Michelle McDonough is the top returnee, having earned first-team All-Conference honors in each of the past two years. She led the America East Conference in kills per game in 2009, and has already reached the 1,000-mark in kills for her career. In addition, McDonough has been named the Binghamton Female Athlete of the Year the past two seasons. Fellow senior outside hitter Anna Lejina was named second-team all-conference last season.
Like Kiriyama, 11th-year cross country coach Annette Acuff has also developed her program into a championship squad. Last year, the men’s team captured its first-ever America East title. Senior Erik van Ingen won the conference’s individual crown and qualified for the NCAA Championships with a program-best seventh-place finish at the Regional Meet. Along with van Ingen are returning all-conference runners Chris Gaube, Jeff Martinez and Casey Quaglia. Adam Quinn, Andrew Ugolino and Craig Coon also are back, giving Binghamton the deepest squad in the conference.
The women’s cross country team suffered through an injury-plagued campaign in 2009, but everyone returns healthy this year. Sophomore Rachel Miura was the top freshman in the conference last season while senior Ashley Horton, who missed last season with an injury, was the team MVP in 2007. Sophomore Lindsay Raulli is coming off an impressive track season and could be the most improved runner on the squad.
Since Sarah McClellan became the women’s soccer coach in 2008, the Bearcats have steadily improved. After advancing to the semifinals two years ago, Binghamton advanced to the America East title game last year and went a program-best 6-2-0 in conference play. This year, McClellan welcomes back a squad whose overall fitness level she compares to professional teams. She also gained a promising freshman class who will make an impact this year.
Two members of last year’s freshman class should continue to factor into the team’s offense. Jamie Halliday and Emily Pape were both named to the America East All-Rookie Team in 2009. The senior leadership this year will come from Stefani Knopick in the backfield and Erin Iman in goal.
After advancing to a conference-best six straight America East title games, the men’s soccer team saw its 2009 season come to an end with an upset loss to UMBC in the quarterfinals. After a promising spring of training, ninth-year head coach Paul Marco believes his squad can once again become a prominent factor in the conference title chase.
Sophomore forward Jake Keegan, who led the squad in scoring last season, has been cited by several websites as being poised for a breakout season. Junior midfielder Ryan Walter, who was hampered by injuries last year, was still named second-team all-conference. This year, he returns healthy. In the backfield, senior Kyle Manscuk will be the anchor.