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Monday, Feb 26, 2024

Fall sports: Season previews

With the academic year underway at Middlebury, fall sports are back in full swing — and in typical fashion, the Panther squads carry high expectations this season. Here are previews for each of the 11 fall varsity sports teams competing this season. 


Women’s golf season preview

by Josh Rosenstein


Head coach: Bill Mandigo (33 years at Midd) 


Captains: Maddy Cordeiro ’23, Katie Murphy ’23


Players to watch for: Audrey Tir ’25, Kayla Li ’23, Jacqueline Slinkard ’24


Background: Women’s golf didn’t have the best of seasons last spring, finishing fourth among five teams in the 2021 NESCAC Championship. There are positives to take away from last semester, though, including the play of captain Katie Murphy ’23. Last spring, Murphy led the Panthers in finishes in every tournament. With her paving the way, how far can the Panthers go? Are there any first-year players who can step in and immediately compete for a top spot? 


Key matches: George Phinney Classic (Home; Sept. 18–19), Williams Invitational (Away; Oct. 2–3)


The Middlebury women’s golf team kicked off their season last weekend at the Hamilton Invitational at Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford, New York. The opener was the first of five tournaments of the fall season.


The Panthers are also excited to travel together as a team in a more normal manner, as far as Covid-19 restrictions are concerned. The players still get tested every Monday, and remain cautious when interacting with other teams, but their travel schedule is that of a typical season.


Besides the tournament at home next weekend, the NESCAC qualifiers on Oct. 9 and 10 are marked on all the players’ calendars. The top four teams qualify for the NESCAC Championships in the spring, and the winner gets the privilege of hosting the tournament.


“We are so beyond grateful and just so pumped to be able to compete this season,” Murphy and Cordeiro said in an interview with The Campus. “There is still a lot of uncertainty in the world, so [we are] thankful Midd and the NESCAC did everything possible to make this happen.”


Men’s golf season preview

By Charles Crounse


Head coach: Bill Beaney (34 years at Midd)


Players to watch for: Colin McCaigue ’24, Anthony King ’23, Sean McGarrity ’23, Hogan Beazley ’23, KJ Dieker ’22


Background: Men’s golf won the NESCAC Championship last spring, giving them some momentum ahead of this season. The Panthers will certainly miss the contributions of recently graduated captain Jordan Bessalel ’21, the reigning NESCAC Player of the Year, but the team has the pieces to restock the lineup. One key player will be Hogan Beazley ’23 — the junior was an All-NESCAC First Team player last year. 


Key matches: Williams Fall Invitational (Away; Sept. 18–19), Sap Bucket Challenge (Away; Oct. 12) 


Men’s golf opened its season this past weekend with a home match against 22 other teams, with the Panthers taking fourth over the course of the two-day event. Beazley took home the individual honors with an impressive score of 140 over the two 18-hole rounds, finishing a comfortable three strokes ahead of second place.


The team will turn to their returning seniors for leadership this year, with Phin Choukas ’22 and Chris Thompson ’22 among those returning to the team after taking the past year off due to Covid-19. Thompson and Choukas were among those competing for Middlebury’s first team this weekend, with both set to play key roles this season. Returning NESCAC Freshman of the Year Colin McCaigue also looks set to star, as do Hogan Beazley ’23 and Sean McGarrity ’23. The team has also added four first years to its all-star lineup as they look to blend youth with experience. 


Men’s cross country

by Charles Crounse


Head coach: Nicole Wilkerson (19 years at Midd)


Captains: Quinlan McGaugh ’22, Noah Whiting ’22


Players to watch for: Drew Donahue ’25, Alec Gironda ’24, Zander Kessler ’22.5, Max Cluss ’23


Background: Men’s cross country has depth in every class this season, from first years to seniors. The question is, as usual: How do the Panthers stack up against other leaders in the NESCAC? How well could they do against Williams, a perennial national contender, for example? Middlebury always finds a way to compete, but could they vault to the top of the NESCAC this year?


Key matches: Aldrich Invitational (Home; Sept. 18), Purple Valley Classic (Away; Sept. 25), Connecticut College Invitational (Away; Oct. 16)


Men’s cross country kicked off their season this past week with a win at the Maple Syrup Challenge. The Panthers nearly swept the top ten with just three rivals sneaking in in second, seventh and eighth respectively. Alec Gironda ’24 earned an impressive victory in his Panthers cross-country debut. 


The team looks primed for a strong year this season, hoping to improve on their third place in the NESCAC back in 2019. They will look to top their sixth place finish in the NCAA Regionals and 29th place at the NCAA Championship. 


Captains Noah Whiting ’22 and Quin McGaugh ’22 are excited about the team’s prospects this season. Whiting says the team is particularly excited about the first-year and sophomore classes, all of whom had yet to race a proper college 8k coming into the season. Alec Gironda ’24, Peter Burke ’24, Drew Donahue ’25, Oscar deFrancis ’24.5 and Will Lavey ’25 all look set to play big roles as part of the up-and-coming cast of untested runners. Other key runners will include Zander Kessler ’22.5, who placed 57th at the last edition of the NCAA Regional race, and captain Quinlan McGaugh ’22, who placed 62nd at the same race.


The team remains under the leadership of coach Nicole Wilkerson, who has led the team to the NCAA Championship race in every year of her coaching tenure, which spans back to 2011.


Women’s Field Hockey - Blaise Siefer


Head coach: K​​atharine DeLorenzo (20 years at Midd)


Captains: Isabel Chandler ’21.5, Danielle Brown ’21.5, Erin Nicholas ’22


Players to watch for: Katie George ’23 (F), Grace Harlan ’22.5 (GK), Meg Fearey ’21.5 (D)


Background: Is there a better D-3 women’s field hockey team in the nation? The answer is probably no. Women’s field hockey has won the NCAA National Championship the past three seasons — 2017, 2018 and 2019 — and return a core group of top players. It would be silly to bet against this team in any game this season. 


Key matches: Bowdoin (Home; Sept. 18), Tufts (Home; Oct. 10), Williams (Away; Oct. 26)


Women’s Soccer - Blaise Siefer


Head coach: Peter Kim (17 years at Midd)


Captains: Eliza van Voorhis ’21.5, Isabelle Hartnett ’21.5, Simone Ameer ’21.5


Players to watch for: Fanny Lodge ’24 (F), Elizabeth Peebles ’23 (M), Eliza Robinson ’21.5 (M)


Background: After an early exit in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, how well can women’s soccer respond this year? They are a perennial juggernaut, last making the NCAA Championship game in 2018, when they fell in dramatic fashion to Williams. The Panthers will have firm tests against Tufts, Williams and Amherst this fall, which could go a long way in determining the ultimate course of their season. 


Key matches: Amherst (Home; Oct. 3), Tufts (Home; Oct. 10), Williams (Away; Oct. 26)


Men’s Soccer - Blaise Siefer


Head coach: Alex Elias ’08 (6 years at Midd)


Captains:  Liam Sloan ’22.5, Raffi Barsamian ’21.5, Michael McFarlane ’22


Players to watch for: Ryan Grady ’23 (GK), Jordan Saint-Louis ’24 (F), Ben Powers ’23 (M), Brandon Reid ’21.5 (F)


Background: Men’s soccer hasn’t finished atop the NESCAC since 2008 — could this finally be the year that breaks that streak? The team would need to get past the likes of Tufts, Amherst and Connecticut College first, which won’t be an easy task. But there is a lot of promise among the first-year and sophomore classes, and the Panthers have no shortage of experience; Liam Sloan ’22.5, Raffi Barsamian ’21.5 and Michael McFarlane ’22 are all All-NESCAC caliber players when healthy. Don’t bet against men’s soccer turning a few heads this season. 


Key matches: Connecticut College (Away; Oct. 2), Amherst (Home; Oct. 3), Tufts (Home; Oct. 10)


Men’s Tennis - Blaise Siefer


Head coach: Andrew Thomson ’10 (3 years at Midd)


Captains: David Vilys ’22, Stan Morris ’22, and Zach Hilty ’22


Players to watch for: Robby Ward ’23, Aidan Harris ’23


Background: It’s been two years since men’s tennis competed, as the team didn’t have enough players to field a team last spring. After all that time off — and with a relatively new head coach — it’s hard to predict how men’s tennis might fare this season. Will their senior leadership help propel them to success?


Key matches: Middlebury Invitational (Home; Sept. 18–19), Panther Classic (Home; Oct. 2–3), Wesleyan Invitational (Away; Oct. 16–17)


Women’s Tennis - Blaise Siefer 


Head coach: Rob Barr (interim head coach)


Captains: Brinlea La Barge ’23, Amanda Frank ’23, Caitlin Neal ’23, Nora Dahl ’22, Ruhi Kamdar ’22.5


Players to watch for: Gena Huang ’24, Amy Delman ’24


Background: Many sophomores and juniors on women’s tennis took the spring semester off — how strong will they return? Also, with former head coach Rachel Kahan taking the head women’s tennis coaching job at Yale several months ago, the team enters an adjustment period as they search for a permanent head coach. 


Key matches: Williams Invitational (Away; Sept. 24–26), Middlebury Invitational (Home; Oct. 8–10)


Women’s Volleyball - Sam Lipin


Head Coach: Sarah Raunecker (26 years at Midd)


Captains: Corley Doyle ’22, Maggie Wise ’22, Jane Nelson ’22


Players to Watch: Laney Sullivan ’23 (OH), Gabbie O’Toole ’25 (S), Kelly Ferrero ’23.5 (L)


Background: After jumping out to a 5–0 start to the season having only lost one set in total, the volleyball team is primed for a big season. The squad went 15–10 two seasons prior, and those sophomores and first-years (five players total) have worked tirelessly to rebuild their team. Senior Jane Nelson ’22 claimed she has never been a part of a team as closely knit as this one. The Panthers will look to stay undefeated when they play their first NESCAC opponents of the year this coming weekend. 


Key Matches: Amherst (Home; Sept. 24), Wesleyan (Away; Oct. 8), Tufts (Away; Oct. 16)


Women’s Cross Country - Sam Lipin


Head Coach: Nicole Wilkerson (19 years at Midd)


Captains: Emily Bulczynski ’22, Cassie Kearney ’22, Grace Kirkpatrick ’22


Players to Watch: Sophie Nardelli ’23, Eliza Broughton ’22, Katelyn Pease ’22


Background: Cassie Kearney ’22 has dominated the field during her time at Middlebury, once again doing so when she broke a course record in the 5k at Vermont Tech this past weekend. She leads an experienced team poised to build upon their fourth place NESCAC finish in 2019. Middlebury hosts their only cross country event of the season this coming Saturday at their annual Aldrich Invitational. 


Key Matches: Aldrich Invitational (Home; Sept. 18), Connecticut College Invitational (Away; Oct. 16)


Men’s Football -  Sam Lipin


Head Coach: Bob Ritter (26 years at Midd)


Captains: Gordon Pollock ’22, Will Jernigan ’21.5, Jack Pistorius ’21.5


Players to watch: Zander Bailey ’21.5 (LB), Jimmy Connell ’21.5 (TE)


Background: In their last full season in 2019, Middlebury football dominated the field, going 9–0 and winning the NESCAC Championship. However, their games were not won by huge margins, with five games ending in a one-score lead. As players return from their semesters off due to Covid-19 and a large freshmen class steps onto the field, will Middlebury once again prevail as champs?

Key Matches: Williams (Away; Sept. 18), Hamilton (Away; Nov. 6), Tufts (Home; Nov. 13)

Blaise Siefer

Blaise Siefer ‘23.5 is a sports staff writer.

Siefer is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Spanish.

For three semesters in 2021 and 2022, Siefer served as Senior Sports Editor. He also co-founded a Middlebury sports recap podcast, PFL Weekly, which is released on all major streaming platforms every Tuesday. 

Siefer is also the Co-Founder and Co-President of Middlebury Club Soccer.

Sam Lipin

Sam Lipin '23.5 returns this fall for his third semester as an editor for the Sports section. A Classics major with an Italian minor, Sam worked as a reporting intern this summer at the Addison Independent. He has hosted four radio shows through WRMC and tells his friends he plays rugby though he has not been to a practice in a year and a half.

Charles Crounse

Charles Crounse '24 (he/him) is the senior sports editor for the Campus. He has previously worked as a writer and staff editor for the section. Charles is pursuing a major in environmental policy and a minor in French, and in his free time he enjoys biking, hiking, and exploring Vermont. He is also a member of the club soccer team on campus.