BY BRETT FRIEDENSOHN
The men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball teams at County College of Morris began their 2016 fall seasons Thursday, Sept. 1. Men’s soccer won 9-1 in its season opener against region competitor College of Saint Elizabeth. Women’s soccer began its season 2-0, and volleyball lost its season opener against Harrisburg Area Community College.
CCM athletic director Jack Sullivan expressed excitement in the beginning season.
“We’re excited about the possibilities,” Sullivan said. “Each season has a new beginning. We have a very, very competitive region that we’re in, so it’s not gonna be easy. But the talent is here. The hard work has been put in, and hopefully, we’ll have a nice fall season.”
Starting this season, CCM’s athletic department will replay the college’s games on televisions installed in the Health and Physical Education building in an effort to give its student athletes more exposure, according to Sullivan.
“It’s just another vehicle in the way times are going,” Sullivan said. “[Students] might not be able to come to the games for a 7:00 game for basketball, per se, or some volleyball, but we can always rebroadcast them … We want to be able to have our student athletes exposed even if it’s just in our own community.”
Women’s soccer won its first two games, the first 1-0 against Bucks County Community College, and the second 6-0 against Cumberland County College.
Head coach Roger Stevens said that in effort to have better players than in past seasons, his program focused heavily on recruiting within the last year, attending many local high school, county and club games.
“It’s kind of a transition year because in the past, the program has struggled for numbers, and quite frankly some of the players that we had out here didn’t really play high school,” Stevens said. “We just had to deal with it, and this year, the quality of the program’s coming up, both in terms of numbers and quality soccer players.”
Stevens said that he wanted his team to look for ways to improve in different areas of play.
“It’s just like, every day, we have to look for a chance to get better, so both sides of the ball, both attacking and defending,” Stevens said. “It’s not just a back four and a keeper that defend, like when we don’t have the ball, the philosophy is that everyone defends, and when we win the ball, everybody’s gotta be involved in the attack in one way, shape or another. So it’s just little things and getting better at that.”
Taylor Fehnet, exercise science major and second-year women’s soccer player said that she noticed improvements in her team from last season to this season.
“I think we have a better team this year,” Fehnet said. “More fitness, more talent, so I think we should be able to get there no problem … I think as a team, we get along better than last year, and I think with that bond, we work better on the field than we did last year.”
Dan Moylan, head coach of men’s soccer, said that his team excelled in distinct parts of the game.
“We have a very skilled team, and we have a good group of freshmen that are, I think, ready or should be right away,” Moylan said. “We have three excellent goalies in camp this year, which I’m really excited about, and for the midfield and forwards, I think they’ll do a good job of possessing the ball and creating goal opportunities and of course finalizing that opportunity by scoring goals, so we can do those three components pretty successfully.”
Camilo Ospoina, business major and player for men’s soccer, said that his team should work on defense.
“I’d say overall, we’re a pretty solid unit,” Ospina said. “I’d just say that our defense would need some work … They need to be more vocal. They just need to talk a little bit more. It’s one sophomore, one freshman, and they just need to get to know each other better.”
Volleyball acquired a new head coach last summer in Amy Berry, for whom Sullivan expressed value.
“[Berry is] doing a great job,” Sullivan said. “She’s very enthusiastic. I’m very excited about the future of the program.”
Erin Higgins, interior design major and first-year volleyball player said that her team benefited from its energy and cooperation.
“From my first practice, I’d say we’re starting out strong,” Higgins said after her team’s practice Wednesday, Aug. 31. “A lot of energy, a lot of motivation to kill the competitors. The girls are getting along great, which is key for a sport, definitely, and obviously a lot of extra practice and support.”
Higgins, a third-year student at CCM, played volleyball in high school and competed at the national level, but a back injury during her senior year that forced her to undergo multiple back surgeries made her unable to play volleyball until this season.
“After I graduated, I never really went back into the gym, and I was really missing it a lot,” Higgins said. “So I decided to come for one of my last semester to try to experience it again and get back into it.”
Higgins said that during her first practice for CCM, she worked to adjusting back to the court.
“There’s a lot of precision in volleyball, a lot of mental work that has to go into it, and you have to think fast,” Higgins said. “And now, I’m thinking fast. That mentality has me getting back into things.”
Women’s soccer began its region play Saturday, Sept. 10, and volleyball began its region play Thursday, Sept. 8.