Women’s soccer team hopeful for rebound after mid-season losses

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

The women’s soccer team at County College of Morris performed strongly with a three-game winning streak at the start of their season, but these impressive wins were soon followed by a four-game losing streak before the Titans won again.

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  Keisy Ramos and Kylie Scinto defend against Mercer County Community College in a 4-1 win for CCM on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Photos by Brett Friedensohn

Their overall National Junior College Athletic Association record is 4-4 with a Region XIX record of 1-3 at presstime. Regardless, players and coaches are impressed with how the team is shaping up this year.

“I can’t fault their effort and determination and just their focus coming in that they want to get better every game,” said Roger Stephens, head coach of the Lady Titans. “I mean, that’s the key. If you have that kind of motivation, you’re just going to get better.”

Stephens, the assistant director of athletics at CCM and a veteran coach in his 25th season with the soccer program, is supported in turn by a staff of three newcomers in their first season on the team, consisting of assistant coach Vincent Catizone, assistant coach Alex Katz, and assistant coach Vincenzo Bernardo. The team also has two student assistants, Taylor Fehnel and Zabrina Gale whose two-seasons limits imposed by NJCAA expired last year, in their first year with this role.

“I mean, the real key to success is just, number one, you want to get the best staff you can,” Stephens said. “Number two, it’s all about recruiting at the college level. If you’re not getting out beating the bushes all the time, you’re not going to get those extra players from different schools. The other part of it is just the preparation and the professionalism that I think our staff brings everyday to practices and games.”

The Lady Titans have an impressive roster consisting of eight returners and nine rookie players. They are led by three sophomore captains, Amanda Lawrence, Stephanie Williams, and returning captain Raenna Cope.

“Being a Titan gives you purpose,” said Raenna Cope, a sophomore business administration major and center back captain. “It’s not like just coming to school and going home, it’s like a whole other family.”

Freshman striker Samantha Corrales is the team’s leading scorer with 11 goals and one assist for a total of 19 points at presstime. She recorded a hat trick in her team’s 4-1 win against Mercer County Community College Wednesday, Oct. 4.

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Striker Samantha Corrales chases a mid-air ball at the game against Mercer County Community College Wednesday, Oct. 4.

“Another key is our leading scorer Samantha Corrales, who got [Garden State Athletic Conference] player of the week the second week of the season, which is phenomenal when you consider there are teams in the region,” Stephens said. “We also have three first-year all-region players who are returning this year, so hopefully they have a second shot at it.”

The season started strong during the home opener against Cumberland County College Saturday, Sept. 2. The match was a high scoring offensive win for the Titans with a final score of 7-1.

Defense would subsequently prove to be a strong factor in the success of the Titans, during a series of four away games in the schedule.

The following two games played were both strong defensive wins, including two impressive shutouts for sophomore goalkeeper Kayla Beal.

Beal averaged 1.7 goals per game at presstime. The Lady Titans average 1.86 goals per game, according to NJCAA statistics.

A 1-0 win Saturday, Sept. 9 against Bucks County Community College was followed by a 3-0 win against Middlesex County College Thursday, Sept. 14.

Bernardo is new to the organization, but he is no stranger to the sport of soccer, having played professionally in Italy and Guatemala. Bernardo said he is still growing into his role in the new environment, but he is impressed with his team’s players’ own growth both on and off the field and is excited for what is to come at the end of the season.

“My prediction is obviously just to play good soccer every game that we have,” Bernardo said about his predictions for the season’s outcome. “We obviously want to win; we want to be competitive, so that’s always the goal. But the short term goal is to get better each practice and win each game that is coming up.”

An away loss of 0-1 at Rowan College at Gloucester County Saturday, Sept. 16 was followed the next week by an away loss of 0-1 at Sussex County Community College Thursday, Sept. 21.

“I think we can do great things,” said Lawrence, a sophomore human services major and outside left midfielder.  “I think we are kinda at a little standstill right now, but once we get our heads back into it, I think we can go pretty far. We have great potential.”

The biggest deficit for the Titans this season came against Essex County College with a 1-7 away loss Tuesday, Sept. 26. Stephens referred to this game as a blip in their performance, not a result of lack of team effort or determination.

The latest game for the Lady Titans was a double overtime loss against Rowan College at Burlington County. The score was 1-1 through regular play after a goal by Lawrence in the 82nd minute to tie up the match. The Lady Titans would allow no goals through the first overtime but trailed after a game-winning goal for RCBC in the second overtime, making the final score 1-2.

The Lady Titans are focused on improvement both on and off the field. Stephens said the players regularly condition in the weight room to improve their fitness. The captains emphasized the importance of communication in a game setting.

“The key to success is communication,” Lawrence said. “Being on the same page with the girls, especially having a deep team bond.”

“I would say, finding each other on the field is a key to success,” Cope said.

The captains say the team is close-knit and bond outside of school, which helps them find success on the field. A Titan is more than just a competitive player on the soccer field.

“Being a Titan makes you want to be successful, because you know, you have your name to it,” Lawrence said. “You’re associated with the school; you’re associated with yourself, and you want to win. You want to do good things.”

The coaching staff’s ultimate goal this season is to reach the NJCAA regional tournament.

“Ideally the focus is always to get to the region tournament and beyond,” Stephens said. “Then, the bottom line is you’ve just gotta get focused and get better every game and every day you step on the field, whether it is practice or a game.”

The Lady Titans’ next home game is at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12 against Raritan Valley Community College.


CCM lacrosse looking to gain wins, experience

News Editor

The lacrosse team at County College of Morris is looking to redeem itself from the 2016 season when it finished its season 1-5 in the region and 2-14 overall and looks to achieve a playoff spot by finishing .500 or better either in region play or overall for the first time since 2011.

The Titans lost 2017 season opener Wednesday, March 8 to Ocean County College 30-2, their largest deficit in more than six seasons. Their 14-2 loss to Union County College Wednesday, April 5 brought their record to 0-2 in the region and 0-5 overall.

Head coach Angel Lastra, who made the transition to the helm of the team this season after working as an assistant coach last season, said after the first game that despite early challenges, he remains optimistic.

“Being in charge of everything is definitely difficult, but like I said, it’s a new challenge, and it’s something to push forward,” Lastra said. “The first game was only our first game. It was my first time head coaching, and it was their first time with especially my philosophy, but it’s just something that you need to push through, and it was unfortunate that the score was that way, but we’re moving forward.”

Lastra said that his philosophy entails discipline and that his players need to work on skills including communication and plan execution.

“I have the game plan in plan,” Lastra said. “It’s just implementing, just talking, just communicating, just following; it’s just the gameplan, not causing penalties, catching and throwing are probably the biggest things that we need to work on.”

Co-captain and attacker Paul Bokun said that he expects this year’s team to be better than last year’s because of his teammates’ focus and Lastra’s leadership.

“Last year, it was more of a club team; a lot of us just didn’t really give a s***,” said Bokun, a business administration major at CCM. “We all just drank and chilled, and now, this year, we’ve got a real team; we have a coach that actually cares, and we’ve got a bunch of players that are on the same page.”

Bokun said that after the season opening loss, he and his teammates should stay positive in order to improve.

“We let up 10 goals in the first quarter, and then, everybody just rolled over on their backs, and it wouldn’t have been like that if we had just kept with it and not given up. If we didn’t give up, that game would have been 20-10; we probably wouldn’t have won, but it probably wouldn’t have been a s*** show like it was.”

Co-captain and midfielder Anthony DeLaurentis agreed with Bokun about his team’s attitude towards the game.

“It’s actually trying to develop a program,” said DeLaurentis. “It’s not just come and get babysat by a coach.”

DeLaurentis said that one of his team’s struggles was the freshmen’s adjustment to the program.

“There’s a lot of first year kids, so it’s hard for them to come in, and they’re fresh out of high school, and they’re not used to playing on the college level yet,” DeLaurentis said. “It’s not even that it’s that much harder, it’s a lot more running, it’s a lot faster, it’s a lot more physical. It’s the little things that kids have to get used to, and that’s a big thing this year is that our coach has focused on those little things to get us all working all together.”

Students can see the last home game of CCM lacrosse at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 26 against Brookdale Community College on the upper soccer field next to Parking Lot 1.

CCM baseball team off to hot start


While the temperature has yet to truly get hot, the County College of Morris baseball team has been scorching their competition to become 17th in the nation among Division II junior college baseball teams.

The Titans’ 5-0 win over Lackawanna College brought their record to 4-0 in the region and 18-2 overall.

Titans head coach Brian Eberly credits the strong season opening to the team’s solid play and composure.

“I think we’ve been playing fundamentally sound,” Eberly said. “We’ve been getting good pitching. If we’ve gotten behind in some games, like we did last game against Brookdale (Community College), who is the number one ranked team in Division III of junior colleges, we don’t panic or get too down on ourselves. It seems like, overall as a team, we have confidence and go into games expecting to win.”

Liam Duffy, the Titans catcher, attributes the high intensity play level to unfinished business from last season.

“The reason for the success is that last year’s team suffered a heartbreaking loss in the regional final last year to Mercer County College,” Duffy said. “Basically, the entire team returned from last year and we kept that burning feeling inside of us to make us train harder than all of our opponents this offseason. We have had numerous amounts of wins this season against nationally ranked teams and look to continue our success as the season goes on.”

Left-handed starting pitcher Alex Busby agreed with his coach about fundamental plays being a key to victory but added that team chemistry and working together are helping fuel the winning effort.

With early success, Eberly voiced confidence that the team would keep the spirit going to maintain a strong season.

“We still have some of our biggest conference games coming up,” Eberly said. “So, I think the competition that we still have to play will help keep us focused, because we know we still have a lot of challenges ahead.”

Duffy also said the team will continue to succeed this season, citing their work ethic and positive attitudes as major assets to that end.

“With our team having this success, I am not nervous about the team losing its edge,” Duffy said. “We have a team full of motivated players who are all hungry for winning. With every day that comes, we look forward to working harder than we worked the day before. Everyone wants to get better and a lot of kids want to go on and continue their career at a four year college or university. Our team is full of great attitudes and I am confident that the team’s success will continue and we will continue to get better.”

Busby credited the probable success of the team to his coach’s ability to motivate the team members.

“I think we’ll be fine,” Busby said. “Coach Eberly really emphasizes staying level with emotions. It keeps us level and keeps us winning. I think we have a lot of energy on becoming the best and the road to that is just staying motivated, practicing hard and just keep doing everything right.”

As of now, Eberly is going to allow the team to continue its role, not make any drastic changes and believes they could get even better.

“I think we’re going to continue to let things play out in terms of who plays where and what our lineup looks like on a daily basis,” he said. “But I think we’re getting a pretty good feel for who we are. We’ve got a couple guys coming back from injury. So I expect that we should continue to improve.”

To see the baseball team in action, attend their next home game as the Titans host Mercer County Community College for a doubleheader at noon Saturday, April 15.

CCM baseball warms up for 2017 season


After a 2016 baseball campaign that included a trip to the Region XIX DII Championship Game, the County College of Morris Titans are getting ready to build off of that in the 2017 season.

The Titans narrowly lost to Mercer County College 6-7 in the championship game last season and head coach Brian Eberly said he believes the experience gained from that run can help make this season a successful one.

“I think last year we were, for as well as we did, we were predominantly freshman and we’re returning the bulk of our team,” Eberly said. “Our top arms are both back. Eight out of the nine guys in our lineup are back. Just that experience factor I think is going to be big for us. We brought in a number of transfers and talented recruits that are going to supplement what we’re already bringing back. But as far as just the quality of returners, I think we are set up. As far as compared to my previous teams here, on paper this should be the best team I’ve had.”

One of those returning players is starting pitcher Alex Busby who is in his second season at CCM. He also said that despite losing a few players, those newly added could add a lot to the team.

“We lost a few guys but we picked up a couple more, so I have big expectations,” he said.

Both Eberly and Busby think the biggest aspect of the game the team will excel with, besides experience, is pitching. The two also agree that the newest editions to the pitching rotation will greatly benefit the team.

“I think our pitching will be much improved,” Eberly said. “I think we are a lot deeper. We have Alex Busby and Jim Fluke returning from last year. We brought in a couple Division 1 transfers and a talented group of freshmen that I think make us a lot deeper.”

Busby said he recognizes that their pitching crew is going to need to be more robust, but he is not worried about the challenge.

“Our pitching is definitely going to be something great this year,” said Busby. “A lot of the freshmen are going to have to step up and stuff like that, but I think they can do it. We’ve picked up a couple transfers and everything that are going to be big parts of the staff. Hopefully that can make something roll.”

Despite the team having recent success, some students at CCM have yet to attend a game. One of these such students is liberal arts major at CCM, Troy Curtis.

“I would definitely be interested in seeing the team play,” he said. “I wanted to go last year but I just never got the chance.”

Curtis also insists on his fellow classmates to go out and support their team.

“I do think it is important for CCM students to know about their teams and support them,” he said. “I know if I was playing a collegiate sport, I would want people to come to my games.”

There is one game in particular that Eberly has in mind and CCM students should too.

“Mercer for us is the big competition,” Eberly said. “That’s who eliminated us in the championship of the region last year. That’s certainly a date that I have circled on our calendar.”

Students can go out and catch the doubleheader on April 15 starting at 12:00 p.m. at CCM.

Alpha Beta Gamma’s crusade to strike out Lupus


Bowling got a benevolent twist as Alpha Beta Gamma, the business honor society at County College of Morris, held a fundraiser to knock out Lupus.

At the newly renovated Circle Lanes in Ledgewood, ABG hosted roughly 40 people on Saturday, Feb. 25. It was $20 to attend, which covered bowling and shoe rental, along with providing a $5 credit toward the arcade. The funds will be distributed to the Lupus Foundation of America, according to Devin Gribbon, business administration major at CCM and vice president of ABG.

Moe Rahmatullah, business administration major at CCM and president of ABG, said the group chose this particular cause because of their ties to it through a collaborative fundraiser with Alpha Mu Gamma, the language honor society.

“We helped them out with [a Lupus charity walk], raising $4,000 for Lupus in the process,” Rahmatullah said. “ABG is an honor society with a commitment to philanthropic work and when the opportunity presented itself, we were eager to help out.”

The second Lupus walk is currently in the planning stages, and Rahmatullah said the target goal is $10,000.

“As such, both clubs have committed to independently raise funds before the Walk so that we can hit our more ambitious goal,” Rahmatullah said.

Gribbon organized the event, the main struggle of which she said was amassing enough interested participants.

“Our fundraiser was held Saturday morning at 10 a.m., which is when students usually like to sleep in,” Gribbon said. “By contacting local newspapers, local community colleges, and distributing flyers at local businesses I was able to get a pretty good turn out.”

Rahmatullah agreed that marketing was their biggest struggle, but commended Gribbon for her competence handling their first major event since her appointment as vice president.

“This was mostly her event from beginning to end, from booking to marketing to execution,” Rahmatullah said. “She did a really great job managing things.”

Michael Gosden, exercise science major at CCM, attended the event and said he was impressed with the uniqueness of it.

“The fact that it was an active off-campus event really stood out,” Gosden said. “I feel like most events are walking around and getting information at tables or buying food or things. This one you were buying an experience.”

Gosden, president of the Alpha Kappa Kappa chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, said that he was impressed with the crowd they pulled as well.

“As a student leader, you get an idea of who goes to events but this one had a lot of new faces,” Gosden said. “Devin reached out to the PTK chapter at Passaic County Community College and a lot of them were there.”

While the ultimate goal was to raise money for an important foundation to ABG, Gribbon said she hopes the event can be used as inspiration for others who may be debating organizing something similar.

“I hope this event can inspire others to make a difference not only in their community, but also in the world,” Gribbon said. “A small event like this one can make a difference in someone’s life, and that makes all the hard work worth it.”

Titans look to build off loss to RCBC


Struggles continued for the County College of Morris men’s basketball team as they fell 106-93 to the Rowan College at Burlington County on Thursday, Jan. 26.

The Titans fought to the end, but couldn’t wrangle a victory despite making a drive in the second half.

Head coach Anthony Obery, coaching in his third season at the helm of the CCM men’s basketball team, identified what this game said about his team and what he thinks motivated them to not give up.

“We’ve got to be consistent,” Obery said. “I’ve tried to preach consistency the whole year. I told my guys to find something to play for. Whatever it is, find something to play for within and I think these guys have mental lapse sometimes and I try to get these guys back on the same page because they’re young guys. Most of them are freshmen. They come from decent programs. But I’m trying to get them in the mindset of a winning attitude. So I think that what pushed them is that they’ve made up in their minds that I’m going to fight until I have nothing left. That was our biggest process of getting the guys to understand that. Fight until you have nothing left in the tank.”

Obery said that his team can learn lessons from the game despite losing it. He was impressed with their fight but pointed out what went wrong.

“They showed poise,” he said. “I was proud of them at the end of the game; they showed poise. A couple of mental mistakes defense-wise by fouling 94 feet, but besides that I can take away the attitude they came to play with in the second half. They showed a lot of heart and showed a lot of pride to be a Morris County Titan.”

Jan. 26 is not the only time these two teams will be squaring off this season.

CCM will travel to RCBC for another go at the Barons Saturday, Feb. 11. Obery expressed excitement in playing them again and has an idea of what may work to get the win this time around.

“I want to speed them up,” Obery said. “I want to speed them up again. I think by speeding them up, they make a lot of turnovers. I think that if we can speed them up without fouling, that’s the main thing. If we don’t foul, we will be successful the next time we play those guys.”

The Barons shot from the free throw line 41 times while hitting 28 free throws and turning the ball over 19 times.
If the Titans can avoid getting into foul trouble and keep the opposing players from the charity stripe this time, they will be in a much better position to get a victory.

Men’s b-ball looks to finish strong

Sports Editor

A season that started out hopeful took a quick turn as the County College of Morris men’s basketball team failed to build on early momentum and its record dropped to 5-11 as the season winds down.

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the team stood at 1-0 in region play and 3-3 overall after an 88-75 win over Orange County Community College. The Titans then lost seven consecutive games, starting with a 103-84 loss to Union County College Tuesday, Nov. 22 and ending with a 102-80 loss to Essex County College Thursday, Dec. 15. CCM broke its streak with a 91-84 win over Sussex County Community College (SCCC) Thursday, Dec. 22 before winning 100-71 to Top Rock Academy Thursday, Jan. 5 and then losing 98-72 to Manor County College Saturday, Jan. 14, bringing the team’s record to 1-6 in region play and 5-11 overall. In order to pick up their record again, the Titans hope to improve their defense and regain injured players.

CCM men’s basketball head coach Anthony Obery said that his team has quality shooting abilities but they need to work to improve their defense.

“Our defense has got to be our main focus,” Obery said. “We can score with the best of them. Our offense is not the problem … It’s not all about scoring. I want them to understand that going to different schools and getting scholarships, the majority of the time, it happens on the defensive end of the floor, and if those guys buy into that, then they’ll understand what it takes to win games. And until they understand what defense is, they won’t win.”

Obery said that injuries have hindered his team, citing injuries to guards Najee Plunkett and Damoine Askew, the latter of whom has played through his injury by competing in some games and sitting out of others, and forward Funot Woldentnsai who returned for the Titans’ Dec. 22 win over SCCC.

“A lot of our problem is we have no depth on the bench because of injury, so that’s why a lot of our starting five are getting tired,” Obery said. “But they’re still fighting no matter what. When we lose, it’s close games. It’s not games where we’re getting blown out the water, but some games, when it comes down to five minutes on the clock, my guys have no energy left because we have no bench.”

During four of the seven losses during CCM’s streak, the team lost by 10 points or fewer.

CCM athletic director Jack Sullivan said the day after the Titans’ Jan. 5 win over Top Rock Academy that the team was developing well despite the injuries.

“Everybody gets bumps and bruises; it happens,” Sullivan said. “That’s why you have a bench. That’s why there’s depth on the team. You don’t just carry five guys. That’s why you carry 10. What I saw last night was very encouraging. Everyone played a lot of minutes, and everybody contributed and did a nice job, so hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come.”

Obery said that in order to improve its defense, his team should focus on man coverage.

“Our guards have a hard time standing in front of our man because they’re so used to relying on the help from our bigs,” Obery said. “I don’t want them to rely on help because that gets us in foul trouble a lot, so I want them to learn and to understand that when you go into the next level, not just here but if you want to continue playing basketball, you have to stay in front of your man, and so, our man-to-man defense has to get better.”

CCM men’s basketball guard and business administration major Quinten Pharis cited conditioning and shooting as strengths for his team.

“We’re more conditioned than most of the teams,” Pharis said. “Shooting-wise, I feel like we could run teams out of the gym with our shooting, and if we play together on our defense, there’s not a lot of teams that could beat us.”

CCM men’s basketball guard and business administration major Kendrick Clayton said that the gaining of returning players should help his team.

“We’ll have a fuller team, deeper team, deeper rotations,” Clayton said.

Sullivan said that winter break, during which the team had a two-week stretch without gameplay, should help.

“The more they play together, the more they’ll get to know each other, the better the chemistry, the better the commodore and the teamwork, so it should be a nice second half,” Sullivan said. “At the end of the first semester, you’re always under a lot of stress because of finals and papers and stuff like that, so what happens in the first semester usually gets erased when you have this big of a break. So I think they always come back with a new sense of energy and focus and enthusiasm, and I think they came back, got right back to work, did a nice job last night, and hopefully, it’s a step in the right direction.”

Obery said that his team has understanding of and love for basketball.

“None of these players that I have never give me a doubt in my mind that they don’t love the game,” Obery said. “It means that we’re better than what we should be. Even though they lose, they understand why we lose … They know why we’re losing games, and that’s what makes the difference. If I had a team that didn’t understand why we keep losing, then that would be a different story.”