Bob Driscoll to Retire as Athletic Director
Steve Napolillo Next in Line
Joseph Quirk ’23
It is the end of an era at Providence College: longtime athletic director Bob Driscoll has announced his retirement in the coming months. Driscoll’s tenure in Friartown certainly had its ups-and-downs and was defined by change. At the end of Driscoll’s role in leadership at PC, the athletic programs are noticeably improved and better off. His work will have everlasting effects on the athletic program at Providence College.
Driscoll was hired back in 2002. At the time, Driscoll was working at the University of California-Berkeley with the dream of one day being an athletic director. He interviewed for the position at UC Berkeley and did not get it. During his retirement announcement press conference, Driscoll told the story about how he ended up as a Friar after not being offered the position at Berkeley. He had heard that the position was open at Providence College, and he begged the headhunter to get him an interview. He ultimately got the job and established a staff that shared the vision of wanting to make the PC Athletics Department one of the best in the country.
Early on in his tenure as A.D., Driscoll made mistakes. He said he was inheriting a college with athletic facilities the quality of a “bad high school.” The “big time” programs of the school: basketball and ice hockey, were struggling and not winning to the extent that is now expected of them. As one of his first head coaching hires, Driscoll hired Tim Army to be the head coach of the men’s ice hockey team. Army had a long and extensive resume prior to being hired as a head coach for the Friars, which included time spent as an assistant coach with at PC in the 1980s. After leaving Friartown the first time, Army would have experience coaching at the NHL and AHL level, including a three-year stint as head coach of the Portland Pirates in the AHL. Army was hired in 2005 and only lasted six seasons with the Friars, with his highest single-season winning percentage being 0.514 his first season. After that, Army never posted a single-season winning percentage over 0.500. Another bad hire was Keno Davis, who was hired in 2008. Davis was out of town by 2011. Davis was hired after being named the College Basketball Coach of the Year by the Associated Press because of his success as head coach of the men’s basketball program at Drake University. Davis went 46-50 during his few seasons in Friartown. When asked about these hires during his retirement press conference, Driscoll said, “Those weren’t bad hires. They were good coaches; it just didn’t work out here.”
The failures of both Tim Army and Keno Davis may have been enough to get Driscoll fired at other schools, but then-president of the College, Rev. Brian Shanley O.P., kept faith in Driscoll. His next two hires, Ed Cooley and Nate Leaman, turned out to be home runs. Cooley brought the men’s basketball program back to the NCAA tournament and currently has the Friars at No. 11 in the nation. Leaman has two Frozen Four appearances under his belt, including one national championship in 2015 with the men’s ice hockey team. That championship was the first by a men’s team in the College’s history. During his press conference, Driscoll mentioned how Friartown has been turned into a destination job no one wants to leave. Driscoll affirmed: “I promise you: Ed had the University of Michigan job. I was there. We sat down and talked about it. He wanted to stay here.” He also said, “He can go anywhere in the country and chose to stay here.”
Driscoll has had several other impacts outside of his coaching hires. Driscoll was responsible for the underground parking garage with tennis courts on top, an idea he said he got from similar structures at Berkeley. He also rebuilt the soccer field and, in the process, relocated the softball field. He has upgraded the fundraising program to provide the different teams here with the amenities top Division 1 programs enjoy, such as the world-class Ruane Friar Development Center and renovations to Schneider Arena. Of course, Driscoll helped lead the Friars through the creation of the new Big East and aided in the building of the conference as it is today.
Driscoll has said he is retiring not only because it feels right but because he cannot provide the longevity that new president Rev. Kenneth Sicard O.P. will need it from him. He also wants to spend more time with his wife. “She has given so much of her energy to me and now it’s time I give all my energy to her,” said Driscoll. He also noted his competitive spirit and drive, things he picked up playing hockey at Ithaca College, and a desire to build a program and coach young men as the reasons he wanted to be an A.D. Driscoll noted how he had had “life coaches” his whole life, and all he has ever wanted to do was coach and teach other people.
In his press conference, Driscoll thanked his “teammates,” identifying them as the reasons for his success. He hinted at an internal hiring when he said, “When you have a successful organization, you want to hire the team members that have been already working to make it so successful.” A few days later, Steve Napolillo was announced as the new A.D. Napolillo was one of Driscoll’s first hires and has worked closely with him for quite some time. He is equipped to take over as he has a list of uncompleted plans of Driscoll’s, an idea of how things should be running here, and will have continued mentoring from Driscoll himself.
At Napolillo’s first press conference, President Rev. Kenneth Sicard O.P. noted that he had done his due diligence and had been discussing Driscoll’s replacement for months. He said that he feared screwing up the momentum that the program had built by bringing in an outside candidate and how he wanted to reward the talent they had internally. Driscoll said, “Nobody loves Providence College more than Steve [Napolillo]” and talked about the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the whole athletics department when they were told about his hire. Napolillo further exclaimed his gratitude and love for this school when he began to speak. From the sounds of things, Napolillo will be a great A.D. for Providence College. He will have big shoes to fill and we look forward to seeing how he will do it. To Bob Driscoll: thank you for everything and enjoy retirement.
Swim and Dive Update
Big East Championships Approaching
Leo Hainline ’22
The Providence College Swimming and Diving team took on the University of Connecticut on Saturday, Feb. 5 in a dual meet, the final chance to clock in official times ahead of the Big East Championships occurring later this month.
PC’s men’s and women’s teams raced under different circumstances, given that UConn has recently cut their men’s program. Many on the men’s team utilized this meet as an opportunity to receive more practice under race-like conditions, although they were racing against the clock rather than an opponent. As for the women, this meet gave them the opportunity to swim in events needed to qualify for the Big East Championships scheduled for Feb. 23-26. For some of the seniors, this meet was their final time competing for the Friars.
The implications of the UConn meet varied for the individual swimmers across the Friars’ program, but those who needed these races to qualify for the Big East “suited up,” a swimming term referring to wearing a technical race suit to increase performance, and swam with the pressure of knowing these races could conclude their individual seasons or collegiate careers. Mike Hawkins ’22 and Elizabeth Murray ’23 both delivered big performances this past weekend and qualified for Big East due to their times.
Angela Brillantes ’22, one of the swimmers who will be competing in the coming weeks in East Meadow, NY, is confident that this past weekend has provided a good prelude to the Big East for the Friars: “After last year’s huge wins, the expectations are definitely pretty high and I think we’re in a good position to do some great things. The energy from this weekend was insane, watching the entire team support swimmers trying to qualify or finish up their careers. The energy levels and emotion were crazy, seeing everyone step up for each other this weekend, and it’s exciting to think that it’ll just be a million times crazier at Big East.”
Over the next coming weeks, the Friars will be fully focused on ensuring that they are in the best condition for their biggest meet of the season. Unlike over winter break, during which the teams trained twice a day to build up their conditioning and speed, the swimmers will lighten their schedules so their bodies are fully rested ahead for late February.
Last year, the Friars impressed at the Big East Championships, setting a total of 21 program records. Coach John O’Neill won Big East Coach of the Year: his first time receiving the honor. Justin Viotto ’22 won the 200 Fly with a school record of 1:48:23, and Kevin Hood ’23 also set a school record in his first-place finish in the 100 Breaststroke, with a time of 55:52. These student-athletes constitute two of the three Big East Champions in program history.
Both Viotto and Hood, as well as the entire Friars program, will hope to both replicate and expand on the success that they enjoyed in the 2021 Championships. With many returning swimmers who contributed to the Friars’ success during the previous season in the meet, do not be surprised if the team claims multiple accolades at the Big East Championships.
Women’s Basketball Winter Recap
Young Friar Squad Battled Tested
Leo Hainline ’22
The Providence College Women’s Basketball team returned to winning ways with an overtime win against Georgetown University. The Friars pulled away in the extra period, thanks to a 9-0 run during the final minute and a half to seal the victory. Kylee Sheppard ’25 led the way with 21 points, including seven of the team’s 15 in overtime. This was the Friars’ first win at McDonough Arena, snapping a 16-game losing streak at that venue.
The first half was controlled mostly by the Friars. PC held an eight-point lead at halftime, partly due to the shooting of Lauren Sampson ’23, who hit back-to-back threes in the second quarter, and Alyssa Geary ’22 who led the team with nine points at the break.
Georgetown crawled back into the game after the PC offense stagnated at the end of the third quarter, going scoreless for the final four and a half minutes. The game was closely contested throughout the fourth, but the Friars seemed to seize control following late scores from Janai Crooms ’23 and Sheppard. However, Georgetown managed to bank in a deep three-pointer with just seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The Hoyas took the initial lead during the extra period and held a one-point advantage with a little over two minutes remaining, but the Friars, particularly Sheppard, rose to the occasion and got multiple stops defensively while also converting on the offensive end. Sheppard knocked down five of her six free throws in the final 40 seconds, putting the game out of reach.
Three Friars scored in double-digits—Sheppard, Geary, and Crooms—and they combined for 48 of the team’s 66 total points. Mary Baskerville ’22 was a force defensively, providing six steals and six blocked shots. The senior center also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The win in Washington D.C. returns the Friars to .500, with a 9-9 overall record. PC is 4-5 in conference play and had dropped their previous two games against Seton Hall University and Villanova University. The loss against the Wildcats was the team’s first on the road this season, but the recent win against Georgetown elevates their away record to 4-1. Over winter break, PC went 2-4, with their two wins coming against Xavier University and St. John’s University.
Much of the Friars’ roster is composed of freshmen, while their leading scorer, Crooms, is a transfer from Michigan State University. While Baskerville and Geary are certainly the senior leaders, they are surrounded by a squad of players who are mostly amid their first season wearing black and white. This dynamic, although it may, in part, explain some of the team’s inconsistencies and struggles, is one that can improve and it may suggest a strong final stretch of the season. Sheppard has filled the point guard role exceptionally well and is a confident facilitator. Her recent play has been vital for PC’s success, as seen in their game against the Hoyas. Crooms has also established herself as an instrumental part of PC’s lineup through her playmaking ability. Leading the team in points and assists, but also in turnovers, her efficiency and decision-making is an x-factor. As these two players, in addition to the likes of Emily Archibald ’25, Olivia Olsen ’25, Audrey Koch ’25, Meghan Huerter ’25, and Nariah Scott ’25, continue to become accustomed to Friar basketball, the cohesion and efficiency of the team should improve.
In early December, PC fell to the Hoyas at home 55-47, and getting revenge on the road is an excellent way to propel them into a challenging week ahead. The Friars will travel to Omaha, NE to face Creighton University on Friday, Jan. 28. Creighton sits towards the top of the Big East with a 9-2 conference record. The Blue Jays however are coming off a loss to Villanova, a team the Friars split their season series with.
PC then has a short turnaround and returns home to take on legendary coach Geno Auriemma’s University of Connecticut at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday, Jan. 30. The Huskies are ranked tenth in the nation, but they are still without Paige Bueckers ’24, who is recovering from a November surgery to repair an anterior tibial plateau fracture and torn lateral meniscus. Bueckers won the national Player of the Year award last season and became the first freshman in women’s college basketball to ever receive that honor. UConn remains a strong squad without her presence, and the Huskies are undefeated thus far in Big East play. Last season, the Friars only matched up once against UConn, in a game away from home and in front of an empty arena. PC started out the game strong on that occasion, leading 7-1 initially and only trailing by a point after the first quarter. UConn ultimately took control and won the game handily. The matchup scheduled in Providence was canceled due to COVID-19 related issues in 2020/21, so this will be the program’s first game at home against the Huskies since they returned to their rightful home in the Big East. If the Friars pull off the upset in front of a home crowd at the Dunk, it will certainly be the highlight of the team’s season and the careers of some of the players.
Friars Look to Make Statement this Season
The Providence College Women’s Basketball team enters the season with high hopes, eager to fully showcase their potential after a turbulent 2020-21 season that was frequently interrupted by COVID-19 postponements and cancellations.
The Friars retain their two top scorers in Mary Baskerville ’22 and Alyssa Geary ’22, senior leaders who will hold down the team’s frontcourt standing at 6’3” and 6’4”, respectively. This season will also allow for other players to shine as the Friars lost four key members of the team, including point guard Chanell Williams ’21, who graduated from PC and is continuing her education and athletic career in-state at the University of Rhode Island. She shot over 41 percent from beyond the arc last season. Kyra Spiwak ’21 is another three-point threat who will need to be replaced, as she shot a serviceable 33.3 percent on a team high of 108 attempts last season.
Fortunately for PC Women’s Basketball, the team has both returning players and an influx of new talent from transfers and incoming freshmen to compensate for their departures from last season. On paper, Coach Crowley has done a fantastic job recruiting and the future of the program looks incredibly promising.
Lauren Sampson ’23 seems set to fill part of the void left by the Friars’ graduating shooters. The junior from Waltham, MA, averaged only 10 minutes a game this past season but hit the fourth-most three-pointers on the team. Expect her to play a key role in the Friars’ offense this year, especially given that defenses will need to focus on the interior presence of Baskerville and Geary. Likewise, Andreana Wrister ’22GS, a graduate transfer from Tennessee State, will also be a vital player on the perimeter. She had the third highest number of three-pointers in the Ohio Valley Conference this past season. Wrister also blossomed in her role in her final season for the Tigers, improving her scoring by nearly 10 points from her junior to senior year. The Friars will need her to accomplish much of what Williams did last year offensively in instigating scoring from the point guard position and stretching the floor with her shooting.
Speaking of shooting, Coach Crowley was able to recruit Meghan Huerter ’25 to Friartown, a player who set a record for the most three-point field goals made at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY. The marksmanship seems to run in the family as her older brother, Kevin, is one of the best young three-point specialists in the NBA and plays for the Atlanta Hawks. Huerter is 5’11” and has unlimited range, creating a tough matchup for any opposing defense. Similarly, shooting guard Audrey Koch ’25 from Iowa City, Iowa stands at 5’10” and knows how to get a bucket in any situation. Similar to Huerter, Koch is a threat from beyond the arc, and she was even a McDonald’s All-American Nominee during her senior year of high school.
Coach Crowley also recruited two-time Maine Gatorade Player of the Year Emily Archibald ’25. She was also named 2021’s Miss Maine Basketball, along with a host of other accolades. At Kennebunk High School, Archibald averaged a whopping 24.6 points and 20.7 rebounds a game. The 6’2” freshman is versatile with the ability to play both in the post and on the perimeter, and has the potential to grow into one of the program’s top players.
In the Friar frontcourt, while fans should anticipate Baskerville and Geary getting most of the run, Olivia Olsen ’25 may also see minutes off the bench and will certainly provide the Friars with depth at the position. Expect Olsen to fill the shoes of her namesake in Olivia Orlando ’21, who was a tenacious rebounder for the Friars throughout her four years on the roster. Despite being undersized at 5’10”, Orlando tallied the second most rebounds for PC last season, and her presence on the court will be missed. Olsen stands taller at 6’3” and acts as a more typical post presence, and after Baskerville and Geary graduate, many expect her to be an integral piece of the Friar frontcourt in the future. She played AAU ball with fellow newcomer Huerter, and at Niskayuna High School in Niskayuna, NY, Olsen averaged a triple-double in points, rebounds, and blocks in both her junior and senior years.
The Friars also added guard depth with freshmen Nariah Scott ’25 and Kylee Sheppard ’25, as well as with the acquisition of Cranston native Janai Crooms ’23, who transferred to PC from Michigan State University. Crooms attended St. Andrew’s High School and was the first female basketball athlete to have her jersey retired at the school. She has plenty of experience playing college hoops as she began her collegiate career with Ohio State University for her first two years before transferring to the Spartans. The floor general will be a valuable player in Coach Crowley’s arsenal, especially given Williams’ departure.
While the PC Women’s Basketball team looks ready to turn heads this season, they find themselves amid a competitive conference that has one of the greatest programs in any collegiate sport of our lifetimes: the University of Connecticut. The Huskies enter the season ranked second in the country, only behind the University of South Carolina. UConn has won 11 national championships, all coming since 1995, and rarely ever lose their conference tournaments. The Friars will square off with the Huskies at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday, Jan. 30, which is certainly a game to mark on your calendar.
UConn is not the only notable team in the Big East. DePaul University also poses a threat and in recent years has consistently hovered around the AP Top 25. The Blue Demons return all five starters and will be expected to be a tournament-caliber team this season. Seton Hall University, which finished as runner-up in the conference last year, is also expected to be one of the more competitive teams that the Friars will face.
The Big East Preseason Poll ranked the Friars as eighth out of 11 teams, but PC Women’s Basketball will let their play do the talking and prove that their roster is much better than others in the conference perceive it to be. There would be no better way to celebrate 50 years of female students at Providence College than to have a fantastic year out of this team. The Friars play an exhibition matchup at Alumni Hall vs. Bentley University on Nov. 4, and then they begin their regular season play again at home on Tuesday, Nov. 9 against Yale University.
Women’s Soccer Recap
Reflecting on the Friars End to the Season
Stephen Foster ’22
The Providence College Women’s Soccer Team finished their season in heartbreaking fashion this Sunday, Oct. 31, suffering a disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to St. John’s University in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Amber Birchwell ’21 scored the lone goal to force OT for the Friars. Despite outshooting St. John’s 16-3 in the contest, the team let up the game-winning goal to the Red Storm within the first 25 seconds of the extended period. PC Women’s Soccer finishes the season with a 10-6-3 record, and a 5-4-2 record in the Big East competition.
For the 2022 season, the Friars will be hurt by the loss of fifth-years Amber Birchwell ’21, Hannah McNulty ’21, and Jana Braun ’21, as well as graduate student Christina Rodgers ’21.
Birchwell finished second in total points (two points per goal, one point per assist) on the season with 13 points, composed of four goals and a team-leading five assists. She has started in 82 of her 86 games played for women’s soccer over her five years in Friartown.
McNulty finished fifth in total points on the season with eight points, including two goals, and tied for second on the team in assists with four. Similar to Birchwell, McNulty has been an integral part of the Friars lineup for the entirety of her five years at PC. She started 72 of her 89 games in her college career.
Braun was a significant part of PC’s midfield this season, starting 14 of 19 games with 1,111 total minutes. Her returning teammates will miss her skills in advancing the soccer ball down the field and distributing to her teammates.
Rodgers was a defensive anchor for the team this season, playing in a team high 1,808 minutes and starting every game. She did the same in the 2020 season, playing all 1,140 minutes across all 12 games. Rodgers started in 82 of 88 games for the Friars across her five years on the team. Her defensive presence on the back line will be greatly missed next season.
Although the women’s soccer team will be hurt by the loss of their graduating players, there is a silver lining in the performance of several underclassmen who stepped up this season and will continue to improve for the 2022 season.
The Friars were led in points by Meg Hughes ’24, who scored nine goals and tied for second in assists with four. This is her second season in a row leading in scoring, as she led the team in goals and assists in 2021. She looks to continue her pattern of dominating offense for her junior season, as well as stepping into a leadership role.
Continuing on the offensive side, Gillian Kenney ’25 impressed in her freshman debut. She started in 10 of 19 games and recorded the third most points, finishing tied for second in both goals and assists with four in each category. She has much room to grow in the offseason and could become the spark the Friars need in 2022. Kyla Gallagher ’24 also contributed to the bottom line, adding in four goals and two assists for 10 total points, which is good for fourth on the team.
The defensive line relied on the skills of Alexis Rothmann ’23 and Chloe Ortolano ’23 to keep the opposing offense out of the net. They will be seniors next year and likely will be called upon to lead the Friars with their experience. Sophomore midfielder Avery Snead ’24 is also a name to remember for next season as she looks to take a step forward in her responsibilities. In addition, goalkeeper Emma Bodmer ’24 thrived in her second season this year, picking up three Big East weekly awards.
Providence College Women’s Soccer may have ended their season without a Big East Tournament victory in 2021, but they have high hopes for next season with a mix of proven and promising returning players set to fill the minutes vacated by those who close the door on their admirable college soccer careers.
Will Murphy ’23
In their final home game of the season, the Providence College Men’s Soccer Team tied Villanova University 0-0, on Saturday, Oct. 30. The Friars were able to outshoot the Wildcats 28-7 but were unable to find a way to notch the go-ahead goal. Goalkeeper Lukas Burns ’24 had a clean sheet making two saves, helping the Friars to their fifth shutout of the season. The tie moved the Friar’s record to 9-2-4 on the season. Next up for the Friars is the regular-season finale on Wednesday, Nov. 3, in Omaha, NE against Creighton University.
The Providence College Women’s Soccer Team closed out the regular season strong at home on Thursday, Oct. 28 with a 2-0 win against Seton Hall University on senior night. The Friars pulled ahead at 41’ thanks to Angie Suaza ’23 netting a penalty kick. After taking the lead, the Friars didn’t look back, scoring again at 58’ with a Meg Hughes ’24 goal. The win clinched a Big East Tournament spot for the Friars, for which they traveled to New York to take on St. John’s University on Sunday, Oct. 31.
The Providence College Field Hockey Team had a successful week beating Quinnipiac University 5-2 Friday, Oct. 29 at home. The Friars got off to a hot start and by the time the first half was over, they led 3-0. In the third and fourth quarter, each team traded goals, but the Friars were always able to keep the Bobcats at arm’s length. Sophia Pompeo ’23 and Olivia Ward ’22 each scored two goals, and the fifth was added by Niamh Gowing ’22. The Friars close the regular season at home on Sunday, Oct. 31, taking on Dartmouth University.
The No. 8-ranked Providence College Men’s Hockey Team had a busy weekend, taking on the unranked University of New Hampshire on back-to-back nights, Friday, Oct. 29, and Saturday, Oct. 30. They dominated Friday’s matchup at home, winning 6-1, but fell in Saturday’s matchup on the road 2-1 in a tightly contested overtime battle. The weekend’s results moved the Friar’s record to 6-3 on the season. Looking ahead, the Friars have an important two-game set with the No.12-ranked University of Massachusetts Amherst Friday, Nov. 5, and Saturday, Nov. 6.
Men’s Basketball Season Preview
PC Hoops Looks to Silence Critics
Joseph Quirk ’23
The Providence College Men’s Basketball Team had a disappointing last season, finishing 12-14 and failing to qualify for the NCAA tournament, let alone make it past the first round of the Big East tournament. The Friars entered last season with high expectations, considering how they nearly made the NCAA tournament in the 2019-2020 season.
Much has changed in the past two years, particularly the loss of some crucial players. Star guard David Duke Jr., for example, left the Friars after last season to pursue the NBA. Duke went undrafted before making the Brooklyn Nets summer league team and earning himself a two-way contract with the championship favorites.
Some things remain the same, though. Two players that stayed to play are center Nate Watson ’22 and guard AJ Reeves ’22. The returners expect to feature prominent roles in the offense with Watson working down low in the post and Reeves creating spacing on the floor.
At this past Big East Media Day, Watson was chosen as a Big East All-Conference first team selection. The preseason polls, however, had the Friars as the seventh team in the conference. Reeves said, “I think Nate is one of the most consistent bigs in the country.” Head coach Ed Cooley said, “I feel like my wife gave birth to Nate, he’s been with us so long.”
This is a big year, particularly for Reeves, as the former four-star recruit looks to have his most prominent role in the offense since arriving in Friartown. He has been inconsistent his first three seasons, flashing a brilliant shot in some games and becoming ice-cold in others. With the departure of Duke and Watson, consistency beyond the arch from Reeves will be a necessity. He will have some help with moving the offense as point guards Alyn Breed ’24 and Jared Bynum ’22 return, as well as graduate student forward Noah Horchler ’21GS and senior big man Ed Croswell ’22.
Breed looks to build off a very promising freshman season in which he averaged five points-per-game along with one assist and two rebounds. He has flashed potential to be a solid scorer who can move the ball well, and now having a full offseason and the experience of Big East basketball last season, it is reasonable to expect a good jump in production from him this season.
Bynum is a lot more experienced than Breed, and is a key piece in this offense. The redshirt junior was a massive part of last year’s offense as he played the main distributor and set up his teammates well. The point guard who can distribute the ball smartly is key, and that was never more apparent than last season. Last year, Bynum was a newcomer but made an instant impact. However, a mid-season injury took him out of action for a couple weeks and the offense looked drastically different.
Croswell was also a newcomer last season, and he had some struggles. The transfer from La Salle University was advertised as one of the best rebounders in the country, but his 1.9 rebounds-per-game last year showed he may have struggled to translate his game to the tougher Big East conference.
If the Friars are going to be good this year, they are going to need him to step up. Having an anchor that can come in off the bench and allow Watson to rest is going to be very important.
Another player the Friars will need this year is returner Horchler. The grad student forward adds a different fold to the offense with his ability to stretch the floor.
One thing this offense has clearly lacked the last few seasons is consistent three-point shooting, and towards the end of last year, Horchler flashed the ability to be a good catch and shoot perimeter player. An athletic forward at 6’8” and 220 pounds, he also has some size to him. With the way the game has evolved, having big men who can shoot is becoming increasingly important.
While all these returners are going to be very important to the success of this team, the newcomers are going to be very important as well.
The rest of this roster is brand new, composed of freshmen and transfers. As mentioned earlier, star guard Duke left to pursue an NBA opportunity. But Cooley and the Friars also lost Greg Gantt ’23, Kris Monroe ’23, Jimmy Nichols Jr. ’23, and Jyare Davis ’24, who all left through the transfer portal this offseason.
The transfer portal did not just take, however. Justin Minaya ’22 came from the portal via the University of South Carolina. In his previous two seasons at USC, Minaya he was about a seven point-per-game scorer, adding about six rebounds and one block per game to his per-game totals. He looks to have had pretty solid production for a power-five team and should be a nice piece to add.
Their other transfer is graduate guard Al Durham ’22. In Durham’s senior season at the University of Indiana, he averaged 11.3 points, 2.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds and .5 steals per game.
He was a leader there and the Friars got a good look at him when he went off and helped lead the Hoosiers to an early season out-of-conference win against the Friars at the Maui Jim Invitational.
The Friars also brought in a ton of young talent to help rebuild this roster.
Freshman guard Matteus Case ’25 is a two-star recruit from Canada and appears to be able to shoot the ball decently from a distance. Freshman guard Luke Fonts ’25 is the brother of graduate walk-on Andrew Fonts ’22GS. Legend Geeter ’25 is a big freshman forward, standing at 6’7” and 220 pounds. He likely will be buried on the depth chart early in his career with all the experienced power forwards in this team, but the former three-star recruit should be a big piece of this team’s future.
Former three-star forward Rafael Castro ’25 and freshman Kieran O’Haire ’25 round out the recruiting victories Cooley claimed this offseason.
Cooley expects a competitive year in college basketball, especially with this extra year of eligibility. He said at Big East Media Day, “College basketball will be in a good place this year. It should be as competitive as any.”
Cooley hopes the Friars will be competing on the highest stage too, considering it has been about three years since their last appearance in the NCAA tournament. But he is not discouraged by the early hate the Friars are getting.
“It’s what they think. How true is it? Who knows? I think it will all balance out. As a coach, if you’re worried about where you’re picked early, you’re in it for the wrong reasons,” said Cooley.
He continued, “You balance your team with confidence, inspire them to be better than people think and kind of go from there. Don’t look at it as a negative. It’s just somebody else’s opinion.”
Providence College’s Pep Band Rallies Once Again
Providence College’s Pep Band Rallies Once Again
The Group’s Triumphant Return to Schneider Arena
Jack Downey ’23
The past weekend was an absolutely wild time at Providence College. From the festivities held for the class of 2020 to the arrival of many parents for the weekend, the last few days were vibrant and exciting. One major event that had many people in good spirits was the first men’s hockey game of the season. Facing off against Army in Schneider Arena, the line to get in stretched as far as the eye could see. Light up cups were handed out for a lightshow between periods. And, of course, the pep band returned.
This was particularly exciting because of the lack of action the pep band experienced last year. Thanks to the pandemic, there were few publicly attended sports games, meaning that the pep band did not get many chances to shine, only playing once or twice during the spring semester. However, with Schneider being open to spectators once again, the pep band took their spots in the stands as people began filing in.
Helmed by long-standing leader Jeff Hoyer and newly-minted student conductor Joe Genest ’22, the band played a few tunes as people took their seats, and a sense of anticipation grew. After a while, the pregame practice concluded. The pep band proceeded to blast a lively take of the classic “When The Saints Go Marching In.” No other tune could have felt like such a fitting beginning to the hockey season. The atmosphere in the arena was full of joy.
Soon the game started and within a minute the Friars scored, taking an early lead. In response, the pep band played some upbeat anthems, such as Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” Genest dutifully conducted the band, occasionally also playing guitar. Hoyer also played along with the band, alternating between trombone and keys. Throughout the rest of the game, the band continued to provide an excellent backing track to the proceedings as the men’s hockey team won, destroying Army 7-0.
While this game was certainly a memorable one for PC’s men’s ice hockey team, it perhaps had even more significance for many of the musicians in the pep band. Current sophomores were able to truly experience the electric atmosphere that permeates Schneider Arena, something that they had missed last year. Learning so many songs only to not showcase them to anyone was undoubtedly a frustrating experience, so it must have been exhilarating to finally get the chance to play them at last weekend’s game. This game also reminded people why the pep band is such an important part of PC’s campus. Without them, so much of the excitement that comes with attending PC athletic contests would be lost.
There are many more games to come this season, and it will be great to hear the sounds of the pep band at them. Perhaps even more exciting is the prospect of returning to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for basketball games, especially for the younger members of the pep band who have not experienced this yet.
Women’s Soccer Update
Friars Picking Up Key Wins
Ben Bilotti ’23
The Providence College Women’s Soccer team is having a very nice season so far. Since the start of the season, the team has improved their record to 6-3-1. This amounts to a winning percentage of .650. The team has been especially successful at home, winning five of their six games.
The Friars’ most recent win came against the Creighton University Blue Jays. This marked Providence’s first win in Big East Conference play. The Friars won the match with a score of 1-0.
Kyla Gallagher ’23 scored the winning goal in the 94 minute of the match. Goalkeeper Emma Bodmer ’24 earned her third shutout of the season. In the match she had four saves. Creighton’s goalkeeper Keelan Terrell had four saves of her own. However, the one goal against would ultimately decide the match and send the Friars home victorious.
Creighton University is currently 6-5-2 on the season and in preseason play looked to be one of the top teams in the Conference. However, in Conference play this season, the Blue Jays are 0-3-1. The Blue Jays’ lone tie in conference play came against Georgetown University, who is currently sitting on top of the standings with a record of 2-0-2.
Providence College took on #23 Georgetown University on Sunday, Oct. 3, drawing 1-1. They did well to silence Hoya junior Gia Vicari, who entered the game having seven goals coming on 11 shots on goal. The Hoyas also had a talented goalkeeper Allie Auger, who has 34 saves and only seven goals against. Friar forward Gillian Kenney ’25 was able to slide one past Auger in the second half to equalize against the Hoyas, only nine minutes after Georgetown took the lead in the second half. The game would end level and was not a bad result on the road against a talented opponent.
The Friars have one of the top goalkeepers in the Big East in Emma Bodmer. Bodmer was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll on Monday, Sept. 27. For the week Bodmer posted a save percentage of .889. Opponents averaged fewer than one goal against the junior, averaging a 0.48 goal against percentage. In one week, she had eight saves and only one goal allowed. While Bodner has three shutouts in the short season, her shutout against Creighton University was her first individual shutout performance.
This season, Bodmer has a save percentage of .793. She has made 46 saves: only allowing 12 goals in 10 games played. While Georgetown goalkeeper, Allie Auger, has allowed fewer goals against, Bodmer has 12 more saves on the season.
Bodmer has been a very big part of the Friars’ success. She is averaging 1.19 goals against. So far, the sophomore has only allowed more than one goal against twice. The only time this occurred was against No. 5-ranked Wisconsin and No. 22-ranked Rutgers. It’s safe to say when the Friars score two or more goals, they achieve a win with Bodmer in net.
Meg Hughes ’24 and Kyla Gallagher ’24 have been another crucial key to Providence’s success. Hughes has six goals and two assists on the season. Her best performance came against Monmouth University on Sept. 5,, where she led the charge with two goals. The Friars won the match 3-1. Gillian Kenney ’25 also scored her first collegiate goal that match. Gallagher has four goals, and one assist on the season so far. The sophomore’s best performance of the season came against Creighton when she scored the game-winning goal late in the game. Gallagher and Hughes are Providence’s leading goal-scorers thus far.
Providence heads to Villanova, PA to take on the Villanova University Wildcats on Thursday, Oct. 7. In conference play this season, Villanova has come up short with a record of 0-3. The Friars will most certainly look to capitalize and gain some ground in the Big East standings.
After their matchup with the Villanova Wildcats, the Friars will take on Marquette at home on Oct. 10. Then they head to Indianapolis to take on the Butler Bulldogs. Both Butler and Marquette currently sit atop the Friars in the standings. Butler is tied for first along with Georgetown and St. John’s, who all have a conference record of 2-0-2. Marquette sits one place ahead of the Friars with a record of 2-1.
These will be two tough matchups for the Friars. However, do not count them out. Although the team is currently 1-1 in conference play, they showed early that they are a competitive team and are never out of a match.
After their two matches against Marquette and Butler, Providence travels to Queens, NY to take on a tough opponent in first place, St. John’s University. St. John’s looks like they are one of the top teams in the Big East. Like Providence, they play extremely well at home with an overall record of 3-0-2.
The top of the Big East is strong with heavily competitive teams. Strength of schedule does not favor the Providence Friars in the middle of their season. Over their next five matches, the Friars will go up against four of the top teams in the conference. However, the Friars have proven they are a strong and capable squad.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Oct. 21 when the Friars will be playing their Pink Out Game against the University of Connecticut.
Men’s Soccer Excitement for Things to Come
Interview With Big East Offensive Player of the Week Davis Smith
Justin Bishop ’24
The Providence College Men’s Soccer team has been competing at a high level all season, which has earned them the No. 24 team ranking in the entire nation. Moving to 6-1-1 overall and 2-0-0 against teams in the Big East conference after beating Xavier 3-2 on Saturday, the team is looking forward to the next half of the season.
To recap how the team got here, they started the season with a 3-0 upset win at Fordham University, at the time ranked no. 23. Two goals from midfielder Luis Garcia ’23, one from graduate student Davis Smith ‘21, and two saves from goalkeeper Lukas Burns ’24 were the keys to the victory. One of Garcia’s goals was a rocket of a corner kick that the Rams goalkeeper could not handle and deflected off him.
The following match against St. Peter’s was no match at all because the Friars took care of the Peacocks with a dominating 6-2 win for the home opener.
Six different Friars scored and Smith ‘21, Kevin Vang ’22, along with Gevork Diarbian ’24 each had one goal and one assist in the routing of St. Peter’s. The combination of the first two games for Smith earned him the honor of being named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week.
After starting out the season with two straight wins, the team traveled to Durham, New Hampshire to take on the then-ranked no. 14 University of New Hampshire.
The Friars fell to the Wildcats 2-1 where Paulo Lima ’22 cut the lead in half late in the 86th minute on a penalty kick. The team showed grit and never gave up even when they were down two with less than 15 minutes to play.
The team then went on to tie the following game against cross-state rival, the University of Rhode Island, 1-1 with a goal from Diarbian.
Rough play from both PC and URI, as one would almost expect in a match featuring these two rivals, allowed for the game to get out of the Friars’ control.
Smith received two yellow cards which kicked him out of the game and prevented him from playing the next game as well. There were 10 yellow cards given out throughout the match, and URI was at fault for 18 fouls in the game compared to PC’s 19.
That, however, was not the story of this game. The real story was the 12 saves from PC’s sophomore goalkeeper, Burns.
Burns stood on his head and made saves that even a veteran senior goalkeeper would have a tough time making. The sophomore’s performance in the previous two games, holding the No. 14 ranked team to only two goals and making 12 saves on 13 shots against a cross-state rival, earned him the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week.
The team has won the past four games since the tie at URI thanks to two players who have raised their game to the next level. These two players are the aforementioned graduate student out of Amherst, MA, Davis Smith, and Brendan McSorley ’24 out of Randolph, NJ.
Both Smith and McSorley are huge offensive components of the team.
McSorley leads the team in goals and points, and Smith leads the team with four assists and is second in goals and points. However, Smith holds all these statistics while playing one fewer game than McSorley, which earned him the title of Big East Offensive Player of the Week this past week for a second time this season.
I was able to sit down with the now two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Week on Thursday to get an inside look on how well the team has felt so far and to get some insight into how they are preparing for the rest of the season.
Davis Smith ‘21 transferred from the University of Massachusetts Amherst two years ago to PC. When asked about the biggest change when arriving in the Big East from the Atlantic 10, Smith said, “The pace of play is definitely faster and the quality of the players around me are [sic] a lot better than when I was at UMass.”
Smith ‘22 mentioned that he struggled to adapt to how fast the game had become after playing in the Atlantic 10. He said that he used the COVID-19-shortened season to train with his brother down in Texas and grinded every day, trying to make himself better.
The training seems to have paid off with the way he affects and produces in every game in which he plays. Davis said that it is nice to have recognition, referring to being ranked no. 24 in the country and his personal accolades. However, that is not the goal of this season, he says.
“The goal of this season (right now) is to win the Big East regular season and the Big East tournament,” says Smith. “We have just as good a team, if not better than the 2019 team and I think we can really go far.”
The 2019 team, at the end of the season, was ranked no. 14 in the nation and went to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament before a heartbreaking one-goal loss to no. 2-ranked Clemson.
Smith said the team only looks to the upcoming game and not down the road, but he revealed excitement for the Georgetown game at home on Oct. 13. Not only is it a matchup of the top two teams in the conference, but Georgetown is ranked no. 1 in the nation as of Sept. 26.
Smith also praised the play of his goalkeeper Lukas Burns, saying that Burns’ Goalkeeper of the Week award was well deserved and that Smith knows his teammate will keep playing at a high level.
He also commented on how well Brendan McSorley has been playing and hopes they can keep the momentum going as they only play Big East teams for the rest of the season. “Every game in the Big East is a grind and there is no reason why we can’t beat any team in the country,” Smith says.
The Friars resume playing at Marquette University in Milwaukee on Friday, Oct. 2.