CCM Sports

Volleyball team wins close game over Bucks County Community College

By: Anthony Ingham
Sports Editor


The Titans dive for the ball in the 2nd game of the day. Photo by: Anthony Ingham

The County College of Morris volleyball team barely won out their game Thursday, Oct. 11 game over Bucks Community College, going winning three games and losing two to bolster the team’s record to three wins and eight losses. The scores for the games were 21-25, 25-22, 25-20, 20-25, and 15-13.

The roars of the crowd turned every point scored into an event as the team played out a close first but lost it after a late volley, losing 21-25 in the first game.

They went on to win the next two games, and even started the 3rd with a 7 point scoring streak. How the Titans won was more dominant as well, certainly being reflected in their game scores, being 25-22 and 25-20 respectively. This was not enough to stop the Bucks from coming back in the next round, also beating the home team 20-25.

Due to it being a fifth set in the match, this meant the game would be played till first to 15 with a two point lead, or until one was two points ahead of the other team afterwards (i.e 16-18). Both teams went back and forth, with neither one being able to stay more than one point ahead for too long.

When the game was 12-13, one of the Titans’ three liberos, Kyara Ramirez, made a miracle dive as the ball was inches away from the front left of their side of the court, saving the ball and allowing them to set up for a point. Along with the momentum of the crowd, the team scored after the next two rallies, putting them at 15-13 and winning the match.

Sophia Meola, team captain and outside hitter, commented on where the team stands as of right now.

“We’ve had a rough season, but we’re getting it together, albeit a little late,” she said.

Brittney Hanna, middle hitter, says that while the team is great, they can sometimes “lose communication,” leading to them playing worse than they normally would otherwise.

“This is the best time I’ve ever been on, and we practice really hard,” Hanna said. “But sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we should, and that tends to be our downfall.”

The team’s last regular season game will take place at the CCM health and physical education building at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.

Men’s soccer drops to 1-4 with loss to Brookdale

By Anthony Ingham


Titans fight for control of the ball after going down 0-2 in the first half. Photo by: Brett Friedensohn

Sports Editor

The men’s soccer team at County College of Morris suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of Brookdale Community College on Thursday, Sept. 27 regional home game.

This put the Titans, at 3-6 wins in their current season, with a record of 1-4 in region play.

Since that game, they have registered a region win and a loss which have put their record, at presstime, of 2-4 in the region and 4-7 overall. This places the Titans in 13th out of 17 total National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX Division III teams. Ending the regular season with a .500 record will automatically earn them a seed in the Region XIX championship tournament.

Against Brookdale, they were coming off a three-game losing streak, with two of the games being in Region XIX competition, by beating Ocean Community College Saturday, Sept. 22.

“We were coming into this game pretty hyped, especially cause we felt like we won our last game against Ocean pretty convincingly,” said captain Kevin Pratt. “Especially since it was a home game, so we wanted to show how good we can be.”

At presstime, Pratt has registered three goals and one assist, placing him in second place in goals among Titans players as Forward Mike Lauria has earned 5. With seven in the points column, he is tied with center Chris Rubio and trails only forward Mike Lauria who has recorded 10.

“We’re not done yet,” said Pratt. “We’ve had a rough start, and our current record might not show our success, but it’s coming. And we’re only halfway through the season, so there’s a lot to come.”

Brookdale broke through the Titans solid defense and scored two crucial goals within the first 15 minutes of the game. They held this lead until the end of the game with some impressive passes and great communication between both teams and some excellent saves by both goalies.

“It’s pretty calm after games like this,” said Mario Vieira, captain and center back.  “We just talk about our mistakes and try to make them better before the next game.”

Vierra said that the team’s current record didn’t demonstrate how good the team actually was.

“We made a lot of mistakes today, so no one is too happy with our performance as a whole,” said Vieira. “But we know what we did wrong, and we’ll play better next game.”

Gabe Lazarre, forward and captain, said that the season has been incredibly hectic and filled with unexpected detours.

“We’ve had our ups and downs; it’s been a rollercoaster,” he said. “We’ve had some tough games, we’ve had some crazy games, and I would definitely call this one of the tough ones … We have talent, we just gotta go get it.”

The men’s next home game will be a regional contest against Union County College at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15.

CCM women’s soccer picks up 19-0 blowout win

Titans open season 1-2 after defeating Manor College

By Anthony Ingham

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CCM women’s soccer mid elder Samantha Corrales takes part in passing practice Wednesday, Sept. 19. Photo by Brett Friedensohn.

    The women’s soccer team at County College of Morris bounced back from losing its first two matches with a 19-0 blowout against Manor College Saturday, Sept. 15, setting their record to 0-1 in the region and 1-2 overall at presstime.

The Titans lost their season opener Saturday, Sept. 1 to Harcum College 1-0 before dropping their next match to Bucks County Community College 7-3 Thursday, Sept. 13.

Midfielder Samantha Corrales, who led the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX Division I in goals with 17, returned this year as a captain.

“So we ended up at halftime being up 8-0, but the game was still not being played very well by us.”

Vincent Catizone Women’s soccer head coach

“It’s been a little tough, cause we started off this semester with nine players, but we’ve slowly been able to accrue more and more teammates over these last few weeks,” Corrales said. “With nine players, the team couldn’t even scrimmage between themselves, as a 5-v-5 is the smallest the team could do so and be competitive. On the field, at least 11 players are required to have a full team, so they couldn’t even play against other teams.”

At press time, Corrales led her team in the goals and points columns with eight and 20 respectively.

“Having nine players definitely made us very negative, cause we didn’t think we were going to have a season, so we had our heads down,” she said. “After getting a few more players, we just brought our heads back up.”

All this changed on Sept. 15 at home against Manor College. After the team’s earlier struggles with mentality and how many were on the roster, the group came into this game and dominated Manor in a 19-0 stomp, setting their season’s goal differential to 14 as goalkeeper Kelisha Chambers has been scored on eight times. The team has since recruited four players.

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CCM women’s soccer goalkeeper Kelisha Chambers makes a save during practice Wednesday, Sept. 19. Photo by: Brett Friedensohn

“We actually started off really slow,” said head coach Vincent Catizone. “So we ended up at halftime being up 8-0, but the game still was not being played very well by us, so we had 20 minutes of good soccer to turn that around, and our girls definitely woke up and went on a scoring fury and scored 11 goals.”

Every player scored at least one goal, according to Catizone.

“Our confidence has really changed since the beginning of the season,” Corrales said. “In ourselves, in our players, everything’s changed since now we actually believe that we’re going to have a season.”

Midfielder Caitlyn Komatsu, another second-year captain, has scored two goals and earned one assist.

“Everyone who is here wants to be here, and we all get along,” she said. “There’s no cliques, and we’re always together, and we all get along, on and off the field.”

Komatsu also said that her coaches have pushed the players to achieve at their highest potential.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I love the coaches, they drive us to do our best every game, and I love my teammates as they put everything they have out on the field. Just being with everyone playing the sport I love is honestly the best feeling in the entire world.”

Students can see CCM women’s soccer’s next home game at 12 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29.


CCM golf wins region, conference titles, place fifth in national tournament

By Brett Friedensohn

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CCM golf placed fifth in the national tournament at Chautauqua Golf Club in Chautauqua, New York. Left to right: Tommy Apostolico, Ricky Christensen, Ryan Ruben, Kyle Kepler and Nick Axelson. Photo Courtesy of: Twitter

The golf team at County College of Morris capped off a 36-1 season by sweeping both the region and conference championships and finishing the national title in the fifth seed, the highest ranking in the program’s history.


This marks the first region title at CCM since softball in 2016 and the first for golf since 2014.

The Titans clinched the top honor of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX at an outing Monday, May 7 and Tuesday, May 8 when they racked up a team score of 314 at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, New Jersey.

They earned the Garden State Athletic Conference Championship when they scored 310 also at Galloping Hill where freshman Kyle Kepler earned the tournament’s best individual score at 74.

The team then secured the fifth spot out of 12 community colleges with a score of 317 at Chautauqua Golf Club in Chautauqua, New York Friday, June 8.

CCM freshman Nick Axelson shot the 14th overall best score of the tournament at 313; he also earned a spot as an NJCAA third team All-American for the 2018 season.

“It comes down to a lot of different factors, obviously, but overall, it was just a good group of guys,” Axelson said. “I mean, we really got along together well as a team. We built off each other’s competition as well as amongst ourselves as well as the other teams we were facing.”

Axelson also said that head coach Jim Chegwidden kept the team focused on and committed to the sport.

“He was very much a leader for all of us and somebody that we can strive to be, like somebody that we almost want to emulate for his seriousness and doing everything the right way, no cutting corners and just really putting in the time and the effort, and that goes all the way back to preseason and the fall in just getting us into the gym, getting us a place to play schrimaches, getting us lessons with our assistant coach Mikey [Mrugal],” Axelson said. “We weren’t just screwing around just having fun. We were going in competitive trying to win.”

After the region title win and before nationals, Chegwidden said that this team was his best since 2007 when Morris won the region title and placed eighth in the country.

“Anything below eighth is going to be a good year; anything below fifth is going to be a great year,” Chegwidden said. “I think we’re going to need a lot of luck. The second thing is everyone’s going to have to understand that we’re going to get some bad shots. You have to get past that and just deal with what’s in front of you and not worry about what’s behind you. That’s why I like golf so much … It’s like life. If you worry about yesterday, then you can’t take care of things today, so if you hit a bad shot, and you let it affect the rest of your round, then you’re going to have a bad day.”

Chegwidden said that his ability to rely on all five team members helped lead to his team’s success.

“I think the fact that we had five guys that could step it up at any time, and anyone could step it up and be a leader this year,” Chegwidden said. “The No. 5 guy Ryan Ruban from Florida, when we were playing in the region qualifier in Hybrid Hills back on May 2, he really stepped it up, and he was the one that got us in the No. 1 seed, and then, the first day of the region tournament, we took a 10-stroke lead, and the second day, we got another 10-stroke lead. We ended up winning by 20 strokes, and Ricky Christiansen, a freshman from Little Falls, he stepped it up. At the region tournament, he placed third in the region tournament. So in the beginning of the season, Nick Axelson from Roxbury, he carried us for the first part of the year, and then, Kyle Kepler from Wharton started playing really well towards the end of the season … And then,  you had Tommy Apostolico steady throughout the whole season. He was just right around 80 all year long.”

Athletic director Jack Sullivan said that the team would have likely improved on their standing if given more time at nationals.

“They all shot better as they tournament went on, so I think if the tournament had a few more rounds, they would have even improved upon a fifth place finish,” Sullivan said. “I always think passion and desire to build a quality program comes from the coaches, and they have a personal connection to the school and the program.”

Axelson said that he probably played his best golf last year, his senior year playing at Roxbury High School. During the fall 2017 semester, he attended Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina to play golf and study professional golf management, but when he found that he did not play as much as he had hoped, he transferred to CCM. He said that the lack of golf played between high school and CCM has hindered his game, and he hopes to practice more in preparation for next season to rebound.

“I’ve got a lot of parts of my game that could use much improvement especially my short game,” Axelson said. “I think my putting let me down a lot this year, but just playing mid-season when you’re playing almost three, four times a week competing, your game surprisingly gets so much better so fast constantly playing and putting in that repetition. I guess that’s the one thing about next season is playing a lot of golf as a team and putting ourselves in situations with pressure and experiencing that before we have to deal with that is the biggest thing, the preparation.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that CCM golf’s most recent region title before 2018 was in 2007. While the Titans did win the title in 2007 and 2018, their most recent region title before this year was in 2014. The current version reflects that.

Titans golf drives, chips its way into a new season

CCM places in top two seeds in both opening tournaments

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

The County College of Morris Titans golf team worked on their game in the winter offseason hoping to come out swinging strong when the 2017-2018 season started Monday, March 19.


The 2018 CCM Titans golfers practice their swings at a pre- season session at the driving range. Photos courtesy of Twitter

Now, under head coach Jim Chegwidden in his fourth season at CCM, they have opened up their season placing second of six in their first match on March 19 and first of four in their second match Monday, March 26. A team consisting of three freshman and two sophomores continue to drive to reach the NJCAA National Golf Championship in Chautauqua, New York.

The Titans’ first match was a Garden State Athletic Conference matchup against Rowan College at Burlington County at Deerwoods Country Club. The Titans combined for a total stroke score of 317, the lowest opening round score for the team since the 2007 season. Freshman Nick Axelson shot 75, the team’s lowest score, to lead CCM to second place in the match, combining with the other top three scores from freshman Jerome Beyer who shot 78, sophomore Tommy Apostolico who shot 80, and returning sophomore Kyle Kepler who shot 84.

Kepler said he had desire to get back into the competition of the golf season and play against other skilled players and spent the offseason working on his game, putting emphasis on his hopes of reaching the national tournament.

“I am looking forward this season to competing at a competitive level against some really skilled players and reaching our team goal of getting back to the national tournament,” Kepler said. “This offseason and spring, I’ve been dedicating a lot of time at the driving range working on my swing and short game. I’ve been getting some good practice rounds in on the course to find a rhythm in my game which I felt was a missing component last season.”

The Titan’s second match saw the team finish first against Delaware Technical Community College at Baywood Greens. The team shot 346 under hazardous conditions with low temperatures and 30 mph gusts of winds. Axelson led the team once more shooting with Apostolico shooting 86, Christensen shooting 89, and Kepler shooting 91.

“Being my first year on the team, I’m looking forward to nearly every aspect of our season,” Axelson said. “Each event is an opportunity for me to perform for our school.”

Head coach Chegwidden said he has a lot of faith in a team made up of mostly new recruits, where the composition of the team seems to change every season.

“It’s always difficult to recruit at the two-year level,” Chegwidden said. “It’s almost like every season you have to bring a new team. Attitudes are great, however. I really think that these guys really believe we could win it all this year. We have the ability from golfers one through five because anyone of those guys could shoot in the 70s. It makes it nice since I don’t have to worry about the lineup. They take care of themselves.”

The golfers compete for the top two spots on the team, and the player with the top score during a match will tee off first the next match for CCM.

“The golf team this year is a special group of guys that includes two experienced returning players and three really good incoming players that will have a key role in the team this year,” Kepler said. “It’s really enjoyable being part of a team where we all want to win and compete at a high level.”

Chegwidden said the Titans have grown closer through weekly golf specific workouts in the fitness center during the off center, based on exercises he saw on The Golf Channel.

“I really believe that when you make your body stronger, your mind gets stronger,” Chegwidden said. “And vice versa. You see golfers nowadays, and it’s not like back in the 70s where guys were totally out of shape smoking cigarettes and drinking a beer. You see guys like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy who are all ripped.”

The training allows the golfers to practice their skills as a team, especially for newcomers such as Axelson.

“Utilizing practice facilities as a team has helped me build strong relationships with teammates and also improve my overall game,” Axelson said.

The Titans have experienced success in the past including the GSAC and Region XIX championships in 2007. They were the runners-up in the region in 2013 and earned a place in the national tournament last year.

“I really think that these guys really believe we could win it all this year.”

Jim Chegwidden Titans golf coach

“Our goal every year is to win the conference championship, to win the region championship, and to qualify for the national championship as a team,” Chegwidden said. “We’ve done that pretty well as over the past 13 years we have qualified 10 times. We have a very good chance, but there’s some good teams this year. Last year, I’m going to say, was a down year. I was a little surprised that we made the national tournament last year. But it was a pleasant surprise.”

College golf matches involve many different aspects of the sport, including different rule systems and properly marking a ball. The matches usually take between four and a half to five and a half hours, so it is an all day event for the team.

“At the end, the kids all come in and they all have to go over their scores in each group, hole by hole,” Chegwidden said. “That’s the most important part of the scoring. It doesn’t matter really what the final score is, it’s their hole by hole score. Once they do that, they sign their cards, and if they sign for a lower score and their score happens to be wrong and it’s a higher score, they get disqualified. If they sign for a higher score, they don’t get disqualified.”


Titans sophomore Kyle Kepler chips a ball on the green during a match.

Meanwhile, Chegwidden emphasized the bonding a golf team will experience during a season despite it often considered an individual sport.

“I actually just sent one of my kids a text message last night,” Chegwidden said. “I said to him, you know, I’m glad that you’re with us, and I hope that your experience here helps you with not only your golf experience, but your life experience. The best part about coaching at CCM is that I still get to see a lot of my former players because golf is a social sport. I still have a lot of players that call me to go play. I see a lot of them that work in the golf industry.”

The Titans will host a home tournament noon Monday, April 16 at Farmstead Golf Club. They are members of the Garden State Athletic Conference and Region XIX of the NJCAA.

Men’s basketball ends playoff run with division title loss

By Connor Iapoce & Brett Friedensohn
Sports Editor, Editor-in-Chief

The men’s basketball Titans at County College of Morris fell short of glory after winning the Garden State Athletic Conference championship and reaching the championship game of the Region XIX DII tournament, where their season ended in a heartbreaking 74-76 loss against Ulster County Community College.

The Titans concluded the 2017-2018 season with an overall record of 21-9 and a conference championship under their belt.

CCM athletic director Jack Sullivan disagreed with labeling the game as a Region XIX championship loss due to technicalities about the designation of the game.

“Technically, it was a district championship, not the region title,” Sullivan said. “Ulster is from outside the region. It was a district game to see who goes to the national tournament. Technically, we were on top of the Region XIX, so we won the Region XIX, but it didn’t give us an automatic bid. I guess we’re the regular season Region XIX champions and Garden State Athletic Conference Champions, 21-9.”

Meanwhile, the Titans are still dealing with the shortened end of a successful season, with the second half of the season consisting of 13 wins and three losses. The Titans entered the Region XIX championship on a five-game win streak.

“I think that we all bought in,” said D’Ondre Dent, a freshman guard. “We came together, there was a lot of leadership skills by [sophomores] Ishmil Raymond and Ranell Bell. We bought into what the coach has been teaching us, and I know we came together, and everything became easy. Once you do everything you’re supposed to do, it became easy. That’s why you saw that win streak.”

The loss from an out of region team was especially disappointing for Dent, who said he saw it as a stolen win in a game that should been theirs to win.


Titans forward Ish Raymond puts up a layup in a 99-55 win against Prestige Prep.

“The team we lost to, they weren’t in our region,” Dent said. “They came in and took our trophy. Now, they’re probably dancing in Danville right now. I’ll never forget that feeling. I didn’t play the game, I got hurt the game before so watching them, that was my first time. Watching them and to lose by two, that hurt so I’m definitely using that as motivation for next year.”

The championship game against Ulster came down to the wire for the Titans, with a two-point difference deciding the winner. The Titans were leading Ulster 35-31 entering halftime, but the team was ultimately outscored 45 to 39 in the second half, with the final score of 74-76.

“It hurt,” Dent said. “The team was good, but we definitely shot ourselves in the foot. Hopefully, we’ll work hard. We’re in the gym, and we’ll work hard. We are already in the gym and took a week off for spring break, so we’re focused on next year. Get to that same position, but have a different outcome.”

Before this playoff run, the Titans had not reached the Region XIX playoffs since the 2012-2013 season.

“We were the second seed going into it which is huge because it hasn’t happened in years, forget about us even going in,” said freshman red shirt Andrew Sosna. “So, we made it very far in that regard. We played our hearts out; I know the guys were frustrated with the loss. I think that we got in our own heads, and I think that’s why we couldn’t deliver. When this team plays at optimum capacity, we are unstoppable.”

The two championships were the first at CCM for head coach Anthony Obery, who is in his fourth season as a CCM coach and third season as the head coach.

“They came in and took our trophy. Now, they’re probably dancing in Danville right now. I’ll never forget that feeling.”

D’Ondre Dent
Titans guard

Sosna said he has been waiting all season for a chance to join the team and is hoping next season can capitalize on this year’s success.

    “I think a lot of our sophomores are leaving this year, which is upsetting, but good for them,” said Sosna. “I know they’re going on to bigger, better things. I think we have a team that’s ready to work, we have a good program, and we have coaches that are ready to kick us into high gear. I’m excited. I’m super excited. I’ve been waiting all year for this, honestly. I think we can deliver again.”

Sullivan is also confident the team will be able to find success again next season.

“I like the freshman we have coming back,” Sullivan said. “I thought they were outstanding. I think that they can go from there. I think there’s a lot to be excited about.”

Softball seeks strong season start

Titans finished second in region last year


The 2018 Titans softball players pose for a team picture at practice. Photo courtesy of: Facebook

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

County College of Morris Titans softball looks to stay motivated as they open the 2018 spring campaign after last season’s 3-4 defeat in the Region XIX Championship game against Lackawanna College stopped ended their chances of reaching the College World Series.

Head coach Greg Wardlow is now in his 14th season coaching softball at CCM; under his command, the team started training beginning Thursday, Feb. 1, but irregular weather made it difficult to practice outside prior to the Titans’ Friday, March 9 season opener.


Titans freshman pitcher Jonnalyn McClain warms up her arm during a team training session outside. Photo by: Brett Friedensohn

“We’re practicing on average like five days a week,” Wardlow said. “It’s tough in the Northeast because you are limited by the weather and the field conditions. We try to use the space available to work on what we can.”

The makeup of the team has changed since the previous year’s lineup with the team made up of mostly new players and five returning sophomores. A key addition to the Titans was the acquisition of four new freshman pitchers, replacing former Titans powerhouse pitcher Mary Mastriani who, after setting a CCM record for most wins for a softball pitcher at 43, now plays at NCAA Division I St. Peter’s University.

“Obviously, our pitchers can get in work in the gym just as well as they can outside,” Wardlow said. “So we put a premium on pitching development. We have four freshman pitchers this year all of which were pretty good high school kids. We try to maximize their development in February.”

In recent years, the program has found a solid footing with three trips to the Region XIX championship game in the past three seasons. The Titans won the region in 2016 but were unable to go back-to-back last season. Wardlow said he is optimistic about the team’s chances of reaching the game once more this season.

“We’re kind of optimistic going into this season,” Wardlow said. “We always have hopes of going to the World Series which this year is mid-May in Mississippi, so we try to promote that motivation and enthusiasm to the players. We talk about going to Mississippi; that’s our objective every year. It’s not easy. You have to win your conference, win the region tournament, and then you have to win the district tournament to get there. Two years ago, we came close. We won our region for the first time in 25 years, and we played the district championship, and we won our first two games. We just got beat, though. Once step short. Last year, we lost in the final of our region tournament. But, that’s our goal. We are excited to start the season.”

The Titans team has focused their sights on the end goal of reaching the region tournament and beyond. Many Titans returning sophomores are set on returning to the big stage to prove the team’s newfound talent, especially with their new bullpen.

“We try not to put too much of a premium on winning games early in the season. It’s all about development.”

Greg Wardlow Titans head coach

“Honestly, I hope to win regions because last year we came in second,” said Carly McDaniel, a sophomore shortstop. “I think that we have a better chance this year because we have four pitchers. Last year, we only had one”

Other returning sophomores are focused on proving their determination and collaboration as one core Titans unit.

“I think we’re going to do really well,” said Ally Tufaro, sophomore outfielder. “We have a lot of talent. Everyone gets along, which is very important on a team. We need to probably improve on consistent winning streaks.”

Wardlow said he knows the team must focus on the length of the season to stay consistent over the course of the 56-game season. He emphasized the team’s development over focusing on a winning record.

The Titans will have games against GSAC members and Region XIX rivals as well as a visit to Cocoa Beach, Florida punctuating the front half of the season. The team will match up with other junior colleges from around the country during the Florida trip with the outcome of the games still weighing on the overall season record.

“We try not to put too much of a premium on winning games early in the season,” Wardlow said. “It’s all about development. The conference schedule is a small portion of our schedule. We have 56 games scheduled between now and the end of April and only 10 of which are conference games. We’ll play games in Florida which count towards our overall record, but whether we win or lose those games is not all that important. We need to be over .500 to qualify. We want to be playing our best at the end, so you have to try to keep an even keel between now and the end and just try to keep getting better and better.”

Wardlow said softball was a part of his family when his daughters played, and when that ended, he continued his involvement of the sport at CCM.

“I make this part-time job into a full-time job which means that I enjoy it,” Wardlow said. “I come to school every day, and I enjoy every aspect of it. Whether it’s recruiting high school kids during the season or in the summer or coming out here and practicing every day. Obviously, I’m a competitor, so we try to build this program to win, but it’s also very rewarding to develop kids to help them not only in their athletic pursuits but academically as well. I think that’s probably what we take the most pride in as coaches is seeing these kids do well at their next stop.”

Tufaro said that she feels welcomed at CCM.

“It’s a very welcoming atmosphere,” Tufaro said. “I transferred from a different school that I played at, and I thoroughly enjoy this much better.”

County College of Morris Titans softball are a member of the Garden State Athletic Conference and NJCAA Region XIX at the Division II level. The Titans open their home season with a doubleheader against Rowan College at Burlington County starting at 12 p.m. Saturday, March 24.

Titans baseball prepare for 2018 season after last year’s success

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

Coming off a season that saw them rocket up the standings to second place in the region and eighth in the nation, the County College of Morris baseball team is looking to continue that hot streak when its 2018 campaign kicks off on Saturday, March 3.

Titans men’s baseball is one of the more storied athletic programs at County College of Morris with three trips to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series and more than 50 former players reaching the professional leagues. A successful 2017 season resulted in being crowned as the Garden State Athletic Conference Champions.

Head coach Brian Eberly said it is realistic the team will be able to win the region once more, possibly even heading to the NJCAA Division II College World Series.

“Our goal is to win the region and get to the College World Series,” said Eberly, who has been with CCM for the past eight seasons. “I think it’s very realistic. We won the conference last year. We’ve put more players into the big leagues than any other New Jersey junior college. We’ve been to the College World Series on three different occasions here and it’s got a strong history and we’ve done well recently as well.”

The makeup of the team has changed from last year, and this is reflected in the Titans being unranked by the NJCAA coming into this season, according to Eberly.

“We have a lot of new faces this year,” Eberly said. “We lost a lot of sophomores after last year. But I think we’re a little underappreciated going into this year. We went 41-8, finished eighth in the nation last year, and we are unranked to start the season this year. We’ve got a lot of proving ourselves to do.”

Eberly said he has placed an emphasis on strengthening the bullpen this year. The Titans lost a majority of their pitchers as last year’s sophomore pitchers graduated and moved on to four-year programs.

“We lost a large majority of our pitching staff, so we’ve been working hard at molding a lot of young guys and new guys,” Eberly said. “I think we’ll hit well. It’s just a matter of throwing strikes.”

Titans have begun preseason conditioning to get ready at the start of the season in March. The team exercises in the weight room together and pitchers are beginning to throw bullpen.

“Since I’m a pitcher, we lift four days a week and throw bullpen at least twice a week,” said John Lynch, sophomore right hand pitcher. “We get a lot of conditioning in … Last year, it was really good because we had a very successful season and this year, I’m just looking forward to being a leader and having another successful year.”

Sophomore infielder Jose Severino said he is pleased with last year’s results and hopes the success will follow into this season.

“We are pushing forward and trying to make it another strong year,” Severino said.

The baseball season consists of 40 plus games in the span of March to the beginning of May unless the team reaches the playoffs and more games are played later in May. Titans players must remain consistent, according to Eberly, in order to not lose focus on the end goal of reaching the playoffs.

“We play a pretty strong schedule which I think will help prepare us for our conference games,” Eberly said. “We’ve got a pretty good group as far as the way we practice and support each other and motivate each other. I think it helps to push guys to not slack off or go into deep slumps because there’s other guys around them available if needed.”

According to Eberly, many of the Titans sophomore players from last season were placed into four-year universities to further their career playing college baseball.

“I think we placed every one of our sophomores last year,” Eberly said. “We’ve got kids, not Division I in New Jersey, but DI elsewhere in the country and other schools in New Jersey.”

Eberly placed importance on his role as coach in the decision process for the players especially regarding the difference in support that occurs between players and two-year coaches versus a coach at a higher, four-year level.

“It’s sort of an even mix between college coaching where I’m recruiting and bringing talent in but also doing a lot to help promote kids to the next level and help kids pursue careers and college choices when they leave here,” Eberly said. “It kind of gives me more to do and more ways to help and influence.”

The Titans are members of the Garden State Athletic Conference and NJCAA Region XIX at the Division II level. Students can catch their home opener against Union County College  Wednesday, March 21 at the CCM baseball field near Parking Lot 9.

Men’s basketball clinches playoff berth

Titans end five season postseason drought with 76-71 win

By Brett Friedensohn

The men’s basketball team at County College of Morris advanced to the regional championship tournament for the first time since 2013 with a 76-71 win against Raritan Valley Community College Tuesday, Jan. 30.

After the regular season ends Thursday, March 1, the Titans will compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX Division II championship tournament consisting of local community college teams; all eligible colleges are in New Jersey, Delaware, and eastern Pennsylvania.

A 75-73 loss to Lackawanna College Saturday, Feb. 10 gave CCM a record of 9-4 in region play and 16-8 overall where it remained at presstime when it was third in the division. The Titans closed last season with a record of 1-13 in the region and 5-20 overall.

Head coach Anthony Obery, in his fourth season, is set to lead a team into the playoffs for the first time in his CCM tenure.

“It feels good,” Obery said. “Our biggest strength right now is our mental toughness. I would say that my guys, no matter what situation that we’re in, our guys stay mentally tough throughout the game. That’s one of our biggest strengths, so if you’re down by a couple of points, you still bounce back, and you still come back and win the game.”

Sophomore center Ish Raymond poses his team’s highest three-point shooting percentage at 52.9 and its second highest points per game at 12.9, behind sophomore guard Lamont Williams at 14.5.


Titans center Ish Raymond jumps over an opposing player for a layup against Cumberland County College. Photos By: Brett Friedensohn

“I’ve experienced it on both sides of the spectrum coming from where the team was last year,” said Raymond, a liberal arts major. “It’s amazing to be a part of this journey. I really appreciate the opportunity.”

Raymond said that he and his teammates are confident in their ability to win the region title.

“We’re just getting better with ourselves as a unit,” Raymond said. “That’s really a big focus amongst the team. That helps the mentality going against other teams. We know how to approach games. Yeah, there’s slip ups here and there; we do have flaws plenty, but for the most part, like I said, we really have a good intention to work on ourselves.”


Freshman guard Abraham Kromah flies through the air in a 86- 78 home win against Cumberland County College

Obery said that to find success in the postseason, his team needs to stay consistent, especially on defense.

“We’ve got to stay hungry,” Obery said. “I tell these guys, ‘I know you can score the basketball. I’m not concerned about you scoring the basketball.’ We have to stay disciplined on defense. If we play defense, I don’t think nobody can hang with us.”

Students can see the Titans’ next home game against Raritan Valley at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27 in the Health and Physical Education building gymnasium.

Assistant athletic director, veteran coach looks to increase transfer rates to NCAA

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

County College of Morris women’s Soccer head coach Roger Stephens says he is not the cliched soccer coach screaming from the sidelines of a soccer pitch during a close match; if you watch him on the field, he is mostly taking notes to discuss key improvements with his team during halftime.

Stephens, who also works as the assistant athletic director, has his own room in the athletic department’s main office the Health and Physical Education building, adorned with newspaper articles, pictures of past soccer teams, and plaques detailing athletic accomplishments. His name has been a staple of CCM athletics for three decades as he has been involved, on-and-off, within the Titans athletics department since 1985 having led both the men’s and women’s soccer programs at various points of his CCM career.

The players he has coached include 13 All-Americans and five regional players of the year. Stephens has also taken pride in academic success, with many of his players keeping above a 3.0 GPA. At the end of 2011, Coach Stephens left a 21-year career as the CCM men’s soccer coach with a record of 244-102-17 or a .696 win percentage.

Soccer has not always been the main focal point of Stephens’ life. During his childhood in New Jersey, the sport was not offered around his town. It was in high school that he subsequently decided to focus on soccer. Ultimately, it came down to his athletic future in college.

“Once I got to my senior year in high school, I made the decision that soccer was the sport I really wanted to play,” Stephens said. “A buddy of mine and I went down to visit Duke University in North Carolina, but we both decided to commit to Trenton State, which is known as The College of New Jersey now. The coach from TCNJ went up to see us, and we had visited the school. They were just coming off a national championship. That’s when I kind of made the decision. I actually went out for track that year just to increase my fitness before college, and that was a good move.”

As a midfielder and outside back starter for the TCNJ Lions, Stephens won the New Jersey Athletic Conference and reaching the National Collegiate Athletic Association national quarterfinals. He decided to stay on the Lions team as a graduate assistant coach, working under his head coach who was one of the first in the state to receive a coaching certification.

This prompted Stephens to pursue a certification as well, which he relates as the moment he decided to become a coach, leading to him starting his CCM tenure as the head coach for the Titans men’s soccer team.

“We actually lost my first two games as coach in 1985,” Stephens said. “It was funny because I could see that we were going to have a decent team, and I had a little bit of an idea of what the level of competition was out there. We only lost, I think, one in overtime, and one was lost by a goal. We could see we were going to be decent that first year. They had only won two or three games the year before and we got it back to .500 after that following year. We went to like 13-4-1 at season’s end.”

Stephens coached the men’s team for 21 seasons and let them to the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX finals six times to with three titles. The Titans made it to the national tournament twice, including the national semifinal in 2008 where the team finished in third place. Stephens would receive four regional Coach of the Year awards.

Ivan Maldonado is a current player on the men’s soccer team at CCM but got to know Stephens in middle school when he helped coach the team. He credits Stephens for much of his success as a soccer player.

“Coach Stephens made me more than just a better soccer player,” Maldonado said. “He knows how to treat his athletes with respect and has a great understanding of the game. I believe that one thing I’ve learned from him is to always be humble. Even after all he’s done, he has found a way to keep his feet grounded. If it wasn’t for him at the right time and place, I don’t think my game would have developed the way it did.”

Stephens took the position as the head coach of the NCAA Division II Felician University men’s soccer for two seasons in 2012 and 2013. He would later return to CCM under a different role, assistant athletic director.

Athletic Director Jack Sullivan was pleased with the hiring of Stephens and believed he was the best man for the job.

“When we had an opportunity for him to come back as assistant athletic director, I knew his track record,” Sullivan said. “His professionalism then always resonated with me. I knew how hard he worked, and I knew the benefit to the college to get him. When he applied, I was elated, and when he got the position, I was extremely happy. We have a good working relationship, our camaraderie is outstanding in my opinion, and we rely on each other heavily.”

The return of Stephens to CCM as the assistant athletic director occurred at a time when the men’s soccer team already had a head coach, but there was an opening under the women’s team.

“When I came back, Jack asked if I would be interested in coaching the women,” Stephens said. “I had coached women at the club level, not at the college level, so that was how that all unfolded.”

This past fall 2017 season found the Lady Titans under Coach Stephens finishing with a 6-5-1 record and a run in the NJCAA Region XIX playoffs when they lost in the Division I semifinal 3-1 to Essex County College.

“We’re excited right now,” Stephens said. “We’ve already had three girls sign which is the most we’ve ever had at this point in time. We had four players visit this past Friday, so we are really kind of excited about what the future holds right now. It is all about recruiting.”

Stephens has taken specific pride in seeing his players succeed academically and move on to four-year universities to continue playing the sport.

“To me, the success of a program is reflected in how many student athletes you have moving on to four-year levels,” Stephens said.

Male athletes that have played under the coach have moved on to NCAA schools ranging from Division I to Division III including Rutgers University, Seton Hall University, Iona College, and East Stroudsburg University. As the women’s coach, it is just starting to take place.

“We had players going down to Tennessee and East Stroudsburg,” Stephens said. “That is one key to success is just the fact you are putting players out there. It just started happening on the women’s side so that is what we are pretty pleased with.”

As the current women’s coach, Stephens aims to get more women playing college soccer.

“We did so much on the guy’s side and we are just starting to break the bubble, so to speak, on the women’s side and getting more women playing college soccer,” Stephens said. “That is going to be the key to be successful is having them move on and be successful and complete their four-year degrees while also being able to continue to move on and play at whatever division levels.”

As his role of assistant athletic director brings him more responsibility, Stephens is aiming to change the view of CCM athletics and bring the support from administration back. He wants to work with the college so that athletics remain important, but the student athletes take priority, so the school is able to help foster success to move on to a four-year-university.

“His biggest strength is his love for this institution and soccer,” Sullivan said. “When you put the two together combined with his work ethic, it is second to none. Top to bottom, Roger Stephens runs a first-class organization program, and I think he’s going to get to nationals with this team very soon.”