Fall Sports Preview
The Carnegie Mellon football team ended the 2015–2016 season on a high note, winning their last six regular season games and dominating rival UAA opponents University of Chicago and Case Western Reserve University before routing Bridgewater State in the ECAC Legacy Bowl 48–13. The latter half of the season for Tartan football consisted of then sophomore running back Sam Benger having a record-breaking season, allowing the Tartans to boast spectacular offensive numbers. Benger set five separate Carnegie Mellon records, including single-season rushing yards at 2,092; making him the twenty first player in NCAA Division III history to reach the 2,000 yard mark. Benger also led the entirety of NCAA Division III in rushing yards and yards per game for the 2015–2016 season. Even amidst the historic performance from Benger, the Tartan defense found a way to shine as well. The defense held multiple opponents to two scores or less, creating massive score differentials in games against weaker opponents such as the Tartans’ 52–7 beat down of the University of Chicago. The Tartans finished the season with an 8–3 record, and thus look much better than they have in recent years. As for this year, the Tartans were picked fifth in the President’s Athletic Conference (PAC) preseason poll, but if they continue their winning streak from last season, they are poised to place much higher than fifth. Benger, along with defensive counterparts Brian Khoury and Drew Fitzmorris, were selected as preseason All-Americans, meaning the Tartans have some big playmakers returning and they are ready to succeed. The 2016–2017 season is looking bright for this Tartan team, but we’ll have to see if they can live up to the hype.
Carnegie Mellon’s volleyball team is coming off a statement-making season, boasting a 29–8 record and placing second in the ECAC South Tournament Championship. Multiple players also earned awards, including senior Jackie Gibbons with an All-American honorable mention, and senior Molly Higgins who was named the ECAC South defensive player of the year. The Tartan volleyball team will be bringing in five new first-year players for the 2016–2017 season, hoping to add to their repertoire of talented players and to continue being a top team in their region. With six seniors returning, the Tartans should have a strong roster to work with and should also be able to foster new talent with the experience of these veteran players as their guide. The Tartan volleyball team begins its journey through the season on Sept. 2 against McDaniel College at the Gettysburg Battlefield Classic in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The Carnegie Mellon men’s soccer team had an above average 2015–2016 season, ending with an 11–4–3 record while going undefeated on their home turf. The Tartans played through a number of close matches, with five games going into double overtime. Despite their winning record, the end of last season was bittersweet for the Tartans as they lost in the first round of the NCAA Division III tournament. Senior Tristan Lockwood was named to the ECAC South All-Star team last season, and shows promise in upcoming competitions. The Tartan men will surely be hungry to get further into the postseason after their run was cut short last year. The Tartan men’s first competition will be at home against Muskingum University on Sept. 1.
Carnegie Mellon’s women’s soccer team is coming off a near-perfect season, going 17–2–1 over the course of the 2015–2016 season, and fighting all the way to the third round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Tartan women received numerous awards for their performance. Senior Katie Liston and juniors Tori Iatarola and Katie Strycharz were named for the ECAC South All-Star first team. Liston was also named the ECAC South Defensive Player of the Year, while head coach Yon Struble was named the ECAC South Coach of the Year. Iatarola was also named an All-American by D3soccer.com, and graduate Carson Quiros was selected as a UAA Nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year award. The Tartan women come into the 2016–2017 season ready to try and run the table, with key players returning and a thirst to finish their run through the NCAA playoffs that was stopped short last year. The Tartan women’s first competition will be on Sept. 2 at home against Franciscan University.
The Carnegie Mellon men’s tennis team played well in the 2015–2016 season, with an overall record of 17–7. Then senior Abhishek Alla advanced the farthest into the NCAA tournament of any of the Tartan men, eventually losing in the semifinals to close out a stellar career. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) named Alla, along with sophomores Daniel Levine and Vayum Arora, All-Americans. The ITA also named the Tartan men an All-Academic team for the 2015–2016 season, with seven players being named ITA Scholar Athletes. But now the Tartans have to focus on a new season with new players, and they will look to returning veterans Kenny Zheng, Kiril Kirkov, and Kunal Wadwani to lead the team and guide them to victory. If the Tartan men want to advance further into the NCAA tournament than they did last year, they will have some big shoes to fill in the absence of Alla. The first competition of the 2016-2017 season for the Tartan men will be on Sept. 9 at home for the Carnegie Mellon Invitational.
Carnegie Mellon’s women’s tennis team is coming off a 2015-2016 season with many ups and downs. The women finished with a 15–7 record, although undefeated at home and in regional play. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) named senior Brooke Tsu, along with senior Vanessa Pavia and junior Cori Sidell to the ITA All-American team. They also named the Tartan women an All-Academic team for the 2015–2016 season, with nine players being named ITA Scholar Athletes. The Tartans have some very strong players returning for the 2016–2017 though, and they will be looking to improve on last season’s performance. Sophomore Marina Selenica boasted a 10–2 record in singles last season while senior Nicholle Torres and sophomore Jamie Vizelman each finished the season with a 17–7 singles record. The Tartan women’s best doubles pair of then senior Brooke Tsu and Vizelman will be split up, but Vizelman will surely find another partner to battle it out on the court with. With this much talent still developing and a few veteran players there to lead the way, the Tartan women can only get better from here. Their first competition will be on Sept. 9 at home for the Carnegie Mellon Invitational.