Connor Iapoce

Soaring season sees CCM softball clinch playoff berth

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

The 2017-2018 Titans softball team found a rhythm early in their season with a 13 game win streak, but the schedule has had its bumps due to weather cancellations in their last four matchups.


Titans freshman Hannah Brizek fouls off a ball during an 11-0 win in the rst game of a doubleheader against Sussex County Community College. Photos by Brett Friedensohn

Meanwhile, injuries sustained in games have impacted the team’s lineup with key players being injured for a stretch of time. The Titans at presstime sit on a record of 23-6 with a five-game win streak and are currently in the third spot of the Region XIX Division II standings and clinched the playoffs with an 11-0 win over Sussex County Community College Wednesday, April 18.

The Titans trip to Florida over spring break found them finishing with the best record of any Titans program at 12-0. Head Coach Greg Wardlow said he was excited about the way the Titans competed in the tournament against strong nationally ranked teams.

“We beat really strong national programs,” Wardlow said. “We beat Iowa Central Community College twice, who were ranked in the top 12 in the country at the time. We beat Parkland College, who was a national runner up a few years back. We beat a couple of other Midwest powers, St. Louis Community College and Spoon River College. When we looked at our schedule going down to Florida, we pessimistically said ‘Hey we’ll have a time tough with these games,’ but we won them all. We played very well.”

The lossless streak continued with a 9-0 victory against nationally ranked Brookdale Community College, but the Titans were plagued by a group of injuries to the core team during these 13 games.

“Along the way we suffered a couple of injuries,” Wardlow said. “We didn’t have a lot of depth to begin with, having only 13 players on the roster. In Florida, we lost our lead off hitter, starting outfielder, number 4 pitcher Hannah Brizek. She had a labrum tear in her shoulder. One of our leading hitters in Florida, Melissa Ackerman, in her first game back against Brookdale suffered a meniscus sprain in her knee, running out a hit to first base. So we were down a couple of kids.”

The Titans’ win streak earned them a national rank of 14 in the country in the NJCAA, marking the first time the team had never been ranked since Wardlow started coaching at CCM in 2005.


Titans freshman pitcher Jonnalyn McClain throws a strike against a Sussex batter.

“They started out very strong down South, went 12-0 and reached 14 in the country in the NJCAA, which was very promising,” said Jack Sullivan, CCM athletic director.

The middle half the season was impacted by the appearance of miserable weather in the Northeast, consisting of snowstorms that made it hard for the team to practice outside. It ultimately impacted the team’s return to play when they came back Thursday, March 15, as the team was unable to practice. More injuries would hurt the Titans lineup, including a meniscus sprain, bone bruises, and a broken nose in subsequent games following the return.

“We played some key games not at full strength, but that’s no excuse,” Wardlow said. “Everybody suffers injuries.”

The Titans would win eighth more games and lose only six, leading Wadlow to believe the Titans have clinched a postseason berth according to their record. Four teams make the playoffs with a double elimination style tournament. The Titans have made the final four the past 9 seasons.

“We have to keep our kids motivated, because we think we have a very good team and we have a pretty good chance,” Wardlow said. “We just need to put it all together when it counts at the end and work on things over the next couple of weeks. It’s anyone of the four teams that qualify are going to have a chance, so it’s who’s playing well.”

The Titans have proved their strength and consistency during the long season, event with the difficulties resulting from the numerous postponements and cancellations. They have not lost a game by more than two runs and Wardlow attributes this to the players themselves.

“We have to keep our kids motivated, because we think we have a very good team and we have a pretty good chance.”

Greg Wardlow Titans softball coach

Freshman pitchers Nicole Carter and Kellie Faber are 11-3 and 9-3 respectively, with Carter pitching a perfect game in the first game of a doubleheader against Northampton Community College and Faber striking out ten in the first game of the doubleheader.

Freshman Kaitlyn Lloyd has an average of .526, earning the title of GSAC player of the week for the second consecutive week Wednesday, April 28. Lloyd leads the team is stolen bases with 21, putting her in the top 10 all time for a CCM player during one season.

“We have a really good record and a really talented team,” said Ally Tufaro, a sophomore outfielder and fine art major. “I think we can make it to [nationals in] Mississippi. That’s like our one goal for the entire season. I would say that’s where I see our team at the end of the season.”

Wardlow said he has the team practicing to deal with the lack of depth that has occurred as a result of the injuries. The team was averaging double figures in Florida but have not scored as many runs as the beginning half of the season.

“Right now, we’re just not scoring as many runs anymore,” Wardlow said. “Some of it is because our lineup has been depleted a little bit, so the lack of depth hurts so we do have to work on getting back into a groove hitting. Our pitching has been pretty consistent and strong. None of the four teams that we play at the end have dominating pitching, so we’re going to have to score runs to win. We’ll certainly work on hitting in the next couple weeks. A couple of things we noticed during games are kind of hard to correct in-game. There is not a lot of chances for practices, because we are always playing games. But certainly things we will try to tighten up in those last couple of weeks.”

The Titans stand in third place of the top four teams who are in positions to make the tournament. Sullivan said he thinks the end of the season will come down to the wire to determine the fourth team.

“It’s going to be a mad rush to see who makes the final four team for the tournament,” said Sullivan. “As we stand, we are 3rd and the top four teams make it to the semifinals. We are looking at Mercer in first place, Lackawanna in second place, and Morris in third. Burlington is in fourth, but Del Tech Owens has an outside chance. That wouldn’t be our problem right now.”

The success of the rookie Titans have the team looking forward to next season, but with a shifting sophomore class, the team has also focused on recruitment efforts. A big effort is their sophomore

“They started out very strong down South, went 12-0 and reached 14 in the country in the NJCAA, which was very promising.”

Jack Sullivan CCM athletic director

“Next season we’ll retain all of our pitchers and all of our pitchers are freshman,” Wardlow said. “We lose a lot of offense and a lot of players on the field which is going to impact us for sure. We have two kids signed for next year, but we know we need more and we have to build up our roster size and depth. We’re always trailing in recruiting compared to four-year schools, but we have to work hard in April and May to get the right kids. That’s one of our focuses, even though we’re playing right now, to actively recruit at high school games and continue to push for that in the next month or so. We do need to build up our numbers for next September.”

Sullivan said he wants the team focused on the rest of this season, before worrying about next year but believes that under coach Wardlow’s leadership, the Titans will find success.

“Coach does a great job finding talent and making it translate to team chemistry, on the field and off the field,” said Sullivan. “There is solid leadership this year from Carly McDaniel and Olivia Feiger and the rest of the sophomores, they’re the core. I’ve always said in junior college, you are led by sophomores. They have been through the league before and they know what’s expected of them. They are all quality sophomores, and we have an outstanding group of freshman that came in, learning their way and by this time, I think they’re all ready to roll.”

Katlyn Lloyd, a freshman was hitting .526 at press time and was Player of the Week in the conference in the second consecutive week April 18.

“She does everything, she has 21 stolen bases already which is already in the top 10 for CCM in a season,” Wardlow said. “She hits with power, she’s the fastest kid on the team, and an all-around terrific player with a great season … Both our top two pitchers, Nicole Carter and Kellie Faber, have done very well as freshman. Carter is 11-3 right now and on Saturday, she pitched a perfect game in the second game of a doubleheader against Northampton Community College. Kellie Faber is 9-3, she struck out 10 in the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday. Both of those are certainly keeping us in game. We lost six games. The six losses, we lost 2-4 against Orange, we lost 5-6 to Lackawanna, we lost 3-5 and 2-3 to Mercer, we lost 4-6 to Del Tech, and we lost 0-2 to Western Connecticut. Those are our six losses and none of the ever by more than two runs. A little luck and maybe less injuries, our 21-6 is a lot loftier.”

County College of Morris will host the Region XIX tournament on April 28 and 29 at the softball fields near Parking Lot 1.

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.

Women’s basketball winds down rebuilding season on losing streak

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

The women’s basketball team at County College of Morris are nearing the end of their 2017-2018 season on a three-game losing streak.


Titans guard Kyara Ramirez looks to pass ball off to Titans team- mate Sophie Fisher after facing pressure from Manor College defender on Jan 27. Photo by Connor Iapoce

At presstime, the Titans were 3-14 in overall overall National Junior College Athletic Association play and 3-11 in Region XIX play. They returned to division play this season after finishing the 2016-2017 season 0-12 and facing a demotion to club status.First-year head coach Alexandra Katz said she has refocused her efforts on rebuilding the team up after last season’s demotion.

“This is a rebuilding year for us, so there’s a lot of things that we can improve on,” Katz said. “Every game, we find new things that we can get better at, so that’s definitely something that we can pull from here.”

The Titans’ 14th loss came from a home game against Manor College Saturday, Jan. 27. They entered halftime tied at 31 but would fail to overcome a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and lose the game 49-63.

Freshman guard Christianna Miltiadous said she was disappointed with the home loss against Manor, citing mistakes on the court costing her team the game rather than being outplayed by the opposing team.

“This is a rebuilding year for us, so there’s a lot of things that we can improve on.”

Alexandra Katz Women’s Basketball Coach

“We obviously could have won,” Miltiadous said. “We lost because of our mistakes. I can’t really describe it. We should have won. I think we were in our own heads. I think if we really put our minds into it, we could have won, but we did it to our ourselves.”

Freshman guard Kayla Beal is tied with forward Marianne Enriquez for second highest shooting percentage on her team at 50. Forward Sophia Menola boats a shooting percentage of 62.5.


Giovanna Harrigan jumps over a defender in game against Manor College on Jan. 27. Photo by Connor Iapoce

“I feel as though we should have played a lot better today,” Beal said. “We gave them the game at the end of the game. That’s pretty much all I have to say.”

Katz said she is looking forward to improving the team before next season and wants to concentrate on building groundwork for the seasons to come.

“I want them to just get better individually and us as a team and build for next year,” Katz said. “Laying the foundation of what we want and what’s important to us and then building off of that as we go forward. This year, it’s learning a lot, and next year, it will be a lot more advanced.”

As a former Titan, Katz said she aims to use her position as women’s basketball head coach to give back to CCM’s athletic programs. She played basketball and soccer during her time at CCM and continued her athletic career at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

“We practice really hard, and we give it our all. It’s just sometimes, we don’t get out of our heads.”

Christianna Miltiadous Titans guard

“They’re really great kids,” Katz said. “I’ve really enjoyed every second of coaching them. I’m really happy to be here because I’m a CCM alumna, and this place helped me move on. So I’m happy to give back to them, and they’re just really good people.”

Some of the Titans players are focusing on mental improvements to their game and continuing to work hard to make smarter plays on the court.

“We should get out of our own heads,” Miltiadous said. “We practice really hard, and we give it our all. It’s just sometimes, we don’t get out of our heads.”

Others are focused on strategies to improve the technical details of their game to find more success during each quarter.

“Passing the ball more,” Beal said on finding success in games. “Talking on defense, running our plays right, running our offense, using the clock, getting back on D.”

The Titans are set to finish the 2017-2018 season away against Lackawanna College at 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10.

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.”

Men’s basketball begins back half of season

Pair of losses punctuate start to new year

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

County College of Morris’ men’s basketball team began 2018 on a two-game losing streak with a National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX home loss against Mercer County Community College Tuesday, Jan. 9 and an away loss against Harcum College Saturday, Jan. 13.


Titans guard Lamont Williams goes up for a layup over Delaware Tech players in a 98-66 win. Photo by Connor Iapoce

Assistant coach Anwar King said the team is facing one of the toughest schedules in the conference and is focusing on taking the season one game at a time.

“Conference games are always the toughest, especially against a team you have already played against,” King said after said after the game against MCCC.  “Nobody comes back the same second semester as they did the first semester. Mercer is one of the toughest teams, and today, they overworked us.”

The team went down in the first half 35-43, but outscored the opponent in the second half 46 to 38. Despite this, the Titans lost the game 81-86.

“We could have came out stronger,” said freshman guard D’Ondre Dent. “We missed a lot of easy layups, couple second chance points, and they killed us on the backdoors. We just have to come back with harder defense. We also are missing a couple of guys, but that’s not an excuse. We were still right there.”

Despite the two most recent losses, the Titans’ overall season record is 8-7, with a 4-3 Region XIX record, and they held the fourth spot in the region’s Division II at presstime.

“I mean we came out and we played,” said freshman guard Anthony Lopez. “We could have played better though, it’s just a tough loss. We just gotta work harder and work hard at what we’ve been doing.”

King said his team consists of freshman who are still learning how to cope with the increasing responsibilities of leading the team.

“It’s hard for freshman to come in and learn so much and have a lot of weight on their shoulders,” King said. “Now their accountability is held against them. It’s just a major adjustment all of them have made.”

Despite this, the team has found success this season with four region conference wins.

“The key strengths for this season is just everybody coming to play,” King said. “We’ve got loads of talent from start to finish, and it’s just a matter of who comes to play which game. There’s no high expectations, no nationals, nothing like that. Everything that we’re doing is taking it one game at a time.”

The loss against Del Tech Stanton marked the largest deficit of the season for the Titans with a 19 point loss. The team went down 42-58 in the first half and was unable to take the lead in the second half, losing the game 89-108.

“Since we lost five games in the first semester, we don’t want to lose five games in the second semester,” Dent said. “That’s the goal. As a team, I think we can get to the national championship.”

The Titans men’s basketball team competes in the Division II level in the Garden State Athletic Conference as well as in the NJCAA Region XIX.

Their next home game is at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27 against Manor College in the Health and Physical Education building.

Men’s soccer ends winning season with loss in playoffs

By Connor Iapoce
Sports Editor

The men’s soccer team at County College of Morris concluded its fall 2017 season Saturday, October 21 with a 3-0 loss against Ocean Community College in the first round of the playoffs.

The Titans finished with a record of 7-5-5 in overall conference play and 3-5-4 in National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX play.

They had a 2-1 home win against Ocean at the end of September already on the record.

At the time of the win, Ocean was leading the conference while the Titans were attempting to break a six-game winless streak.



Defender Liam Coffey fights for the ball in the game against
Sussex County Community College on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Photo by Brett Friedensohn

“The game that stood out for me the most was the game where we played Ocean at home,” said Liam Coffey, Titans right back defender. “It was super disappointing when we lost to Ocean in the playoffs and realized our season was over. We all thought we were capable of accomplishing a lot more.”

The playoff loss followed a seven-game undefeated streak following the first Ocean game, with four wins and three draws making up the record.

During the playoff game, the Titans went down a goal early in the first half at the three minute mark and it was an uphill battle for the rest of the game. Ocean would score another goal at the 20 minute mark and a third, final goal in the 50th minute of the game. The Titans were unable to answer offensively, with eight shots total and only six shots on goal.

“We gave ourselves a good opportunity,” said head coach Kevin Rosenberg after the playoff loss. “We drew a seed in a matchup against a team that we had already beaten. We felt pretty good going into the game with a good three days of training in preparation for it. Then, we had an unexpected injury with Bektesh Hadzovic, and we had to shuffle around a couple things lineup-wise.”

Despite the tough playoff loss, the Titans ended the season with a win percentage of .531.

“The lineup changes threw us for a little bit of a loop and we got off to a little bit of a slow start and then that was it,” Rosenberg said. “We couldn’t recover from our slow start with the early goal. We kind of had to chase the game the rest of the way, and it didn’t work out as well as we would have liked.”

In his first year as head coach, Rosenberg admitted to the struggles faced with a two-year soccer program as opposed to a four-year in terms of getting all of the players, both rookie and veteran, on the same page in a shorter period of time.

“None of the players have been there for a long time and when a new coach comes in, there is very little stability in what is going on,” Rosenberg said. “So getting everybody on the same page as quickly as we did was a challenge for all of us. It was something that we never had to do before. I thought that we did it fairly effectively.”

The returning sophomores were a big help in the turnaround of the team, invoking leadership roles to teach first season freshman the workings of college soccer, according to Rosenberg, who said that after a tough season last year, the returning sophomore players stepped up and Rosenberg believes “deserve a pat on the back.”

Overall, Rosenberg said he is satisfied with his first season as head coach and particularly, the development of the team from beginning to season end.

“I am very pleased with the development of the team this year,” Rosenberg said. “Obviously, we were not pleased with the way that it ended, but very rarely, unless you win the whole thing, are you pleased when it ends. Throughout the course of the season, I think that we set ourselves up pretty well. We got the program back on the right track.”

Rosenberg and Athletic Director Jack Sullivan both believe the future of the program is strong in terms of recruitment and work ethic.

“They’re a great group of young men, and I believe we have the right man in position right now,” Sullivan said. “He’s going to do a great job bringing in quality student athletes. I’m impressed with the work ethic. I think the coach has established a very nice culture. They worked very, very hard, and they were serious about what they were doing this season.”


Right winger John McEvoy dribbles the ball down the field against SCCC. Photo courtesy of CCM Athletics  

Recruitment efforts to find the next wave of student athletes is underway under the guidance of Sullivan and Rosenberg.

“I don’t think it will take a Herculean effort to get the program going in the right direction,” Sullivan said. “Morris County is great at soccer, so I think right at our doorstep, we have to get kids to come here and commit and keep working hard.”

Seven starting freshmen will act as veteran returners on the team next season.

“All of those kids got very valuable experience; they’re hard workers and I think they got a taste of success this year,” Rosenberg said. “Hopefully, it leaves them hungrier for more and I think we are going to have a tremendous recruiting class coming next year. The sky’s the limit, to tell you the truth.”

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.