Men’s, Women’s Soccer Eager to Begin Season
Top Goal Scorers Return For Another Run
By Jack Belanger ’21
After an extended offseason, the Providence College Men’s Soccer Team will finally open their season this Saturday at home versus in-state rival University of Rhode Island. Due to the postponement of fall sports, the last time the Friars played was over a year ago in the third round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament, losing to Clemson University 2-1 in overtime.
It will be an interesting year for the Friars as they lost seven players from last season, five of whom were starters, including captain Joao Serrano ’19 and grad-transfer goalkeeper Austin Aviza ’20GS. This means Rimi Olatunji ’22RS will start the season in net for the Friars.
Inexperience in the goal and on offense will be a big roadblock the team must overcome if it wants to have a successful season. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the soccer team has had only about a week or two of full practices as an entire team and has played one intra-squad match. Olatunji has only made two appearances in the last two seasons, and the offense lost five of its seven top point scorers. Luckily for the Friars, Paulo Lima ’22 was named to the Preseason All-Big East Team after leading the team in goals last season.
The strength of the team resides in their defense. Last season, the Friars averaged only one goal allowed per game as well as only 7.2 shots allowed. Ramzi Qawasmy ’22 and recently named captain Malcolm Duncan ’21 both started all 23 games last season on the backline, and will be tasked to be the anchors when things get chaotic.
In order to cut down on travel, the Big East broke into two divisions and shortened the season schedule. The six teams in the Northeast will make up the East Division, while the remaining five will comprise the Midwest Division.
After two local games against URI and Boston College, the Friars will face each team in the East Division twice, including the reigning national champion Georgetown University, who is the preseason favorite to win the East Division. The Friars are picked to finish second, which will make the matchups against the Hoyas especially exciting if the Friars find themselves on the edge of an NCAA tournament bid thanks to a decrease in the number of tournament teams this year.
The Providence College Women’s Soccer Team is also looking to build on their 2019 season when they snuck into the Big East Tournament as a sixth seed and upset the third seed Butler University in the first round. Hannah McNulty ’21 scored the game-tying goal in the 82nd minute, and the Friars were able to win the game in a shootout after two overtimes.
Similar to the men’s league, the Big East will be split into two divisions in which the Friars are predicted to finish third in the East, though they did receive a first place vote, indicating that coaches are taking the team seriously.
McNulty will once again be the focus of every opponent’s defense. She has scored 19 goals over the past two seasons and was a unanimous selection on the Preseason All-Big East Team this year.
While the team needs McNulty to be at her best in order to have a chance to win, they also need to find secondary options when teams put extra pressure on her. Elayna Grillakis ’22 was the only other player on the team to score more than one goal. Thankfully, the Friars will return with every player who scored last season, which means they will need less time to build team chemistry on the offensive side of the field.
A big question for this team is who will replace standout goalkeeper Shelby Hogan ’21RS, who decided to go into the professional league. The team currently has three goalkeepers on the roster, with Caroline Drinkwater ’22 as the only one that has any game experience for the Friars.
This team will face some challenges as they welcome 10 new players, including eight freshmen and two sophomore transfers.
The women will also begin their season this weekend hosting URI on Sunday before hosting another in-state rival Bryant University a week later.
While both teams will share the challenge of opening their season in the midst of winter, there is a lot of excitement around the College’s two soccer teams. Just being back on the field is a relief for the players and coaches, but there is still work to be done. Both teams are hungry after a long break and after each had an incredible finish to their 2019 seasons.
LIFE WITHOUT BRADY
The Cam Newton Era has Begun in New England
by Liam Tormey ’22
A new era is beginning for the New England Patriots. After 20 seasons and six Vince Lombardi Trophies, Tom Brady decided to end his career with the Patriots and sign a two-year, $50 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is now the post-Tom Brady era in New England.
So, where do the Patriots go from here? Well, for starters, Cam Newton will be the face of the New England offense after he was named the starting quarterback last week. Newton beat out both Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the starting job.
The 2015 MVP of the league has had his issues with injuries over the last couple of seasons. Last season, Newton played only the first two games of the season before being placed on injured reserve for the year with a Pedal Lisfranc sprain. After being released from the Carolina Panthers, Newton found a home in New England on a one-year deal.
The offense will look different this year without Tom Brady behind center, but there are still some familiar faces returning. Newton will be relying on the likes of Sony Michel, Julian Edelman, and N’Keal Harry. After trading for Mohamed Sanu last season for a second-round pick, the Patriots cut him this past week alongside running back Lamar Miller. Behind Edelman and Harry, Damiere Byrd will start the season as the Patriots No. 3 wide receiver.
New England’s starting tight end this year will be Devin Asiasi, who was the Patriots’ pick in the third round at number 91 in this year’s draft class. Asiasi enters the NFL after a successful collegiate career at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2019, Asiasi had 44 receptions, 641 yards, and four touchdowns. After coming out of retirement, Rob Gronkowski, one of the greatest tight ends of all time, was traded alongside a seventh-round pick to meet up with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay for a fourth-round pick. The Patriots took back-to-back tight ends in this year’s draft, selecting Dalton Keene from the University of Virginia Tech in addition to Asiasi. Asiasi and Keene will look to fill the massive void left at the position since the departure of Gronkowski.
Due to COVID-19, the Patriots have a league-high number of players who have opted out of the 2020-2021 season. Those opt-outs include tackle Marcus Cannon, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, tight end Matt LaCosse, running back Brandon Bolden, fullback Dan Vitale, receiver Marqise Lee, and guard Najee Toran.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Patriots defense will look very different from how it was last year. The Patriots lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts to free agency. Each leaves very large shoes to fill on defense. The defensive line will stay mostly intact, however, with Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, John Simon, and Deatrich Wise Jr. all returning.
The cornerback spot is still a strong spot for the Patriots. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore will feature alongside Jason McCourty, Devin McCourty, and Adrian Phillips in the secondary. With their second-round selection in this year’s draft, the Patriots added Kyle Dugger at safety. Dugger should be able to fill the hole left by Chung, as the hard-hitting safety dominated Division II football while playing for Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina.
It is going to be a strange time for New England fans with these new-look Patriots, but with Bill Belichick running the team, and with Newton having something to prove, anything can happen for New England this season.
Indeed, the Patriots started on a strong note this past Sunday against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. The team secured a 21-11 victory behind two rushing touchdowns from Newton. They will look to continue their solid start this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Women’s Basketball Preview
Team Looks to Previous Season Highlights as Guides for Upcoming Season
By Ethan Ticehurst ’18
Basketball season is right around the corner in Friartown. Crowds will be pouring into the Dunkin Donuts Center to see the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team play this season, but fans will also head to Mullaney Gymnasium to see the Women’s Team try to improve upon last season.
Last year, the Friar Family saw a rebound in women’s basketball, as the team put together their first season with more than 10 wins in five years. The team came roaring back from a tough time with a winning record in their non-conference games, which helped them reach a 12-18 record overall.
Last season, the Friars were lucky enough to play under first year coach Jim Crowley, who previously spent 20 years as the head coach of women’s basketball at St. Bonaventure, where he led the team to the NCAA tournament five times. His first year at the helm of the Friars, and the subsequent improvement of the team, continued to show his strong abilities as a coach. If last year was any indication, Coach Crowley will hopefully continue to improve the team and lead them to a NCAA tournament in the future.
A successful coach is not the only thing that the Friars have going for them going in to the season. Topping the list of advantages is the play of Jovana “YoYo” Nogic ’19. After averaging 14.5 points per game last year, she only looks to get better this year. Nogic has already been named to the Preseason All-Big East Team, an honor that puts her in the upper echelon of Big East players. She started all 30 games for the Friars last year and looks to do the same again this year.
Other bright spots for the Friars include the play of both Clara Che ’19 and Allegra Botteghi ’18, the only other returning players to have played in all 30 games last season. Both of them add over five points per game each, numbers which should improve this season as both of them have gained more experience playing college basketball and everyone tends to become a better player when they have more experience.
Fans should look to be in Mullaney Gym on Nov.10, when the Friars kick off their season against Columbia University. Given their successes against non-conference teams last year, the Friars are likely to have another strong start to the season this year. One big date to be excited for is Dec. 2, when the Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament gets started right here on campus, with teams from Brown University, Bryant University, and the University of Rhode Island visiting Friartown for two days. The biggest date of the year for the Friars, however, will be three days after Christmas, on Dec. 28, when they kick off conference play against Georgetown at home. After hopefully having a strong start to the season in non-conference games, the game against Georgetown is when the going gets tough for the Friars and they will have to put their hearts fully into the game.