Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Logo of The Middlebury Campus
Tuesday, Apr 16, 2024

2023 Fall sports previews

Donovan Wood ‘24.5 will be one of Middlebury’s athletes to watch this fall. Courtesy photo by Kevin Wood.
Donovan Wood ‘24.5 will be one of Middlebury’s athletes to watch this fall. Courtesy photo by Kevin Wood.

Women’s Soccer 

Coach: Peter Kim

Captains: Beatrice Donovan ’23.5, Emma Binks ’23.5, Ella Gagnon ’23.5, Jazzaray McClinton ’23.5

Players to watch: Joely Virzi ’24, Roshann Purcell ’26, Ella Gagnon ’23.5

Background: Middlebury women’s soccer faced an abrupt ending to the 2022 season, when a brutal loss in the NESCAC quarterfinals to Trinity sent the Panthers home. However, the Panthers’ winning record and strong group of returners led by top goal-scorer Virzi (four shots, out of a total nine points scored) is certainly showing signs of brilliance and promises of revenge as the team intends on returning to the top of the conference. Since graduating prominent senior-defenders, a new back line containing Purcell could mean a changing of the guard defensively this season, bringing on a regime of possession, technical play and new opportunities for revenge against key conference opponents like Amherst, Tufts and Williams. 

Key Competitions: Wesleyan (Home–Sept. 30), Tufts (Home–Oct. 21), and Williams (Away–Oct. 24)

Men’s Soccer 

Coach: Alex Elias 

Captains: Jordan Saint Louis ’24, Ben Powers ’23.5, Luke Madden ’24.5

Players to watch: Jordan Saint Louis ’24, Ryan Grady ’23.5, Shane Farrell ’24.5

Background: Coming off a first round appearance in the NCAA tournament last season, the Middlebury Men’s Soccer team started off the 2023 season strong, definitively toppling Mount Saint Mary College (NY) 11-1 and tying 1-1 with critical NESCAC opponent Amherst. Saint Louis is expected to take the lead for the Panthers’ offense as the top scorer last season, scoring six goals out of a total 15 points. Returning for his senior season, Grady sits at the helm of the Middlebury defense this year. Not to be forgotten, Grady was recognized as National Goalkeeper of the Year in 2021, started in every game during the 2022 season and will be stepping into goal this year as a First-Team All-American and school record-holder in shutouts (29). Looking forward, an array of strong returners could mean a formidable Middlebury lineup will be ready to take on the most critical conference opponents later in the season. 

Key Competitions: Bowdoin (Home–Sept. 23), Tufts (Home–Oct. 21), Williams (Away–Oct. 24)

Women’s Cross Country 

Head Coach: Nicole Wilkerson

Captains: Tatum Peskin ’24, Winnie Wang ’24

Athletes to Watch: Bea Parr ’25, Audrey MacLean ’27, Morgane Orcutt ’25

Background: The main question surrounding the women’s cross country team is how they will respond to the graduation of Kate Kenny ’23 and Audrey Grimes ’23, who finished last season as two of the team’s top runners. Star runner Parr returns after struggling with injury last season, so maintaining her health will be of the utmost importance for the team’s success this season. She is backed by a strong team with Orcutt and Peskin looking to build off their performances last year, and if the team can avoid injury, there is certainly reason to believe the Panthers can improve from last year’s 8th place finish.

Key Competitions: Aldrich Invitational (Home–Sept. 16), NESCAC Championship (Away–Oct. 28)

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Middlebury Campus delivered to your inbox

Men’s Cross Country

Head Coach: Nicole Wilkerson

Captains: Alec Gironda ’24, Peter Burke ’24

Athletes to Watch: Benjamin Hughes ’27, Drew Donahue ’25, Shef West ’26

Background: The men’s cross country team finished an impressive third at last year’s NESCAC championship, and with almost a full slate of returners there is certainly hope that they can improve their finish and compete for the title. Zander Kessler ’22.5’s departure will undoubtedly leave a hole behind top runner Gironda, but the Panthers have a clutch of young runners eager to prove themselves, headlined by Hughes as the recent Maple Syrup Challenge winner. As with any cross country team, fitness and injury prevention will play a key role in the team’s level of success this fall, but when fully fit the Panthers are among the best teams in the league. Expect a competitive push for the NESCAC title. 

Key Competitions: Aldrich Invitational (Home–Sept. 16), NESCAC Championship (Away–Oct. 28)

Women’s Golf

Head Coach: Tim Walko

Athletes to watch: Jacqueline Slinkard ’24, Audrey Tir ’25, Mia Politano ’25, Morgan Lee ’26

Background: Despite a quiet 2022 season that saw an early exit from the postseason, women’s golf is poised for a breakout this year. The Panthers boast an astonishingly deep talent pool that draws from veterans and newcomers alike, even after losing a third of its roster last spring. Slinkard was a key cog in the team’s success last year as evidenced by her frequent stays at the top of the Panthers’ stat sheets. Tir and Politano have both shown flashes of brilliance in their own right with Tir claiming medalist honors at the Hamilton College Women’s Invitational last weekend. Lee exemplifies the promising youth on the roster, having been named to the All NESCAC First Team last season. The Panthers are also experiencing a changing of leadership this season. This year they will be led by Interim Head Coach Tim Walko who is coming off of an eleven year tenure at College of the Holy Cross. With only four competitions until the NESCAC Qualifiers, fans should be excited to see what women’s golf has to offer.

Key Competitions: George Phinney Classic (Home–Sept. 16–17), Williams Fall Invitational (Away–Sept. 23–24), Wesleyan Invitational (Away–Sept. 30–Oct. 1)

Men’s Golf

Head Coach: Tim Walko

Athletes to watch: Colin McCaigue ’24, Paul Fine-Lease ’25, Charlie Schulman ’26

Background: Following their 10th NESCAC Championship crown and successful romp through the NCAA Championships, men’s golf now looks forward to a changing of the guard in leadership on two fronts. The Panthers are helmed by Interim Head Coach Tim Walko who is coming off of an eleven year tenure at Holy Cross College. Four seniors have departed the team — all of whom were the nucleus of last year’s deep postseason run. Despite all of these unknowns, the Panthers have shown a lot of promise in their one competition so far. Schulman performed admirably at last weekend’s Duke Nelson Invitational and was the only non-senior to compete in last year’s NESCAC and NCAA Championships. McCaigue and Fine-Lease were often found towards the top of the Panther’s stat sheet and return for their senior seasons. With a slew of new faces at every level, this season promises to be an exciting spectacle for everyone involved.

Key Competitions: Williams Invitational (Away–Sept. 16–17), Bowdoin Invitational (Away–Sept. 23–24), NEIGA Championship (Away–Oct. 13–14)

Women’s Tennis

Head Coach: Taka Bertrand

Athletes to watch: Amy Delman ’24, Sahana Raman ’25

Background: Last year’s fourth-ranked Middlebury made it all the way to the NCAA semifinals for the seventh year in a row and will look to go one step further this season, building off of the continued success of their two All-American athletes Delman and Raman. With a combined 12-0 record as a doubles pair, the two finished last year as the 10th best duo in the country. Their success will define a team looking to repeat a NESCAC Championship in the spring season after they finished with a 9-1 record last year. The ITA Regionals in late September will be a key litmus test for this team, with Delman and Raman now proven vets to continue the recent dominant stretch of women’s tennis.

Key competitions: ITA Regional Championship (Away–Sept. 22–24), Middlebury Panther Challenge (Home–Oct. 13–15)

Men’s Tennis

Head Coach: Andrew Thomson

Athletes to watch: Noah Laber ’24, Neel Epstein ’25, Zihao Yuan ’24

Background: Men’s tennis looks to build off a three way tie for second place in the NESCAC with Williams and Bowdoin last season. After seeing Tufts finish last year’s NESCAC season unbeaten, Middlebury will need a near-perfect run in the spring to have a shot at the trophy and will need a strong fall to position themselves. Key to Middlebury’s plans will be returning senior Laber, tabbed as an ITA All-American last season along with departed senior Aidan Harris ’23. Returning veterans such as Epstein and Yuan will be called upon to step up in his place. Finding a replacement for Harris as well as Laber’s continued success will prove vital to Middlebury on the courts this year as they eye a comeback in the ITA Championships in October.

Key competitions: Middlebury Invitational (Home–Sept. 16–17), ITA Regional Championships (Away–Sept. 29–Oct. 1)

Women’s Field Hockey

Head Coach: Katharine DeLorenzo

Captains: Katie George ’24, Charlotte Marks ’23.5, Audrey Lazar ’23.5

Players to watch: Amy Griffin ’24.5, Katie George ’24, Katherine Lantzy ’25

Background: All-Americans George and Marks return to the field this year as captains, alongside Lazar, looking to lead the team to another dominant season in the pursuit of Middlebury field hockey’s sixth consecutive NCAA championship title. Also returning this year is All-American Griffin, a seasoned starter who led the team in goals scored, with 18 during the 2022 season. Lantzy is certainly a player to watch this season, recognized last season as a member of the NCAA All-Tournament Team and NFHCA All-Region Second-Team. Looking forward, it is clear that between injuries and new rising stars, the lineup to start off the season is anything but set in stone. However, after a strong set of wins to kick off this season against Castleton (12-0), #10 ranked NESCAC opponent Amherst (3-0), and University of New England (6-0), all eyes are on the team, yet again, looking to see whether the magic and winning tradition of Middlebury field hockey with coach Katharine DeLorenzo at the helm will carry into 2023. 

Key Competitions: Bowdoin (Home–Sept. 23), Trinity (Away–Oct. 14), Tufts (Home–Oct. 21)

Men’s Football

Head Coach: Doug Mandigo

Captains: Cole Kennon ’23.5, Finn Muldoon ’23.5, Kwesi Adu-Diawo ’23.5

Athletes to watch: Donovan Wood ’24, Cole Kennon ’23.5, Tomas Kenary ’24.5

Background: On the heels of a second place NESCAC finish in 2022, the football team looks to navigate the loss of long time head coach Bob Ritter while continuing with its turnaround from the disappointing 2021 season. That year, the squad put together a poor 3-6 record, suffering from lackluster results on both sides of the ball, scoring an average 17.56 points a game but giving up 24.33 to opponents each game. 2022 saw a much more prolific offense put up 28.22 points a game. The Panthers’ defense improved by a two point per game reduction, but this team’s strength will continue to be its offense as Wood looks to continue his role as star receiver of the team. Wood averaged 17.37 yards per game en route to putting up the third best total yardage in Middlebury history. Also look to Kennon to step into Ben Tauber ’23’s shoes as starting quarterback this year and Kenary to lead a defense hoping to build off a strong 2022 season. The Panthers are certainly in the mix for the NESCAC title once again but will need a near perfect season to claim the win.

Key competitions: Wesleyan (Away–Sept. 23), Trinity (Away–Oct. 14), Tufts (Home–Nov. 11)

Women’s Volleyball

Head Coach: Sarah Raunecker

Captains: Kelly Ferrero ’23.5, Lexi Linafelter ’24

Athletes to Watch: Katie Kraczkowski ’24, Gabbie O’Toole ’25, Ava Tuccio ’26

Background: The team may have started the season with a negative 1-2 record, but the early signs are still promising for the women’s volleyball team. Led by defensive specialist Ferrero, who recorded her 1,000th dig in Saturday’s matchup against Gettysburg College, and middle hitter Linafelter, the team boasts a talented roster combining youth and experience. Molly Harrison ’27 and Lauren Baxter ’27 led the team in kills in the game against Gettysburg, while last year’s top scorer Kraczkowski has also made a strong start to the season. The team has graduated two starters since last season, but with the strong cast of rookies stepping up, the Panthers look set to fill the gaps left by last year’s seniors. Expect a playoff push by the Panthers this season, who will look to make a deeper run after last year’s quarter final exit.

Key Competitions: Williams (Home–Sept. 15), Tufts (Home–Sept. 29), Wesleyan (Home–Oct. 27)


Editors’ Note: Lexi Linafelter ’24 is a sports editor and a captain of the Women’s Volleyball Team.