Amy Bright Leading the Jaspers in Her Final Season

“’Attitudes are contagious.’ One person with a bad attitude can ruin a lot. It’s a strong reminder to always stay positive and always be a good teammate and player.”

Senior starting pitcher Amy Bright was asked about the best advice she has ever been given. Bright has this mindset before going into every game and it helps her succeed on the mound.

“Amy is awesome,” assistant coach Bridget Hurlman said. “She definitely always wants the ball. She’s our number one. She definitely owns that mound and we are lucky to have her.”

Two MAAC All Academic Team selections and three MAAC Pitcher of the Week awards are just some of Bright’s accomplishments at Manhattan and in softball altogether. She has been posting great numbers over the years and this season as well, including a 2.68 ERA and 14-7 record. Now preparing for the playoffs for the last time, she looked back at her four years on the team.

“MAACs last year were definitely the best,” Bright said about her favorite memory. “We came in and we were 6th place. We won three games in a row. It was so awesome. It was definitely the coolest thing.”

Back to back shutouts and a streak of 15 scoreless innings. This is just one highlight from Bright’s career at Manhattan. This happened on a trip to California earlier this season in March where the team played opponents including Brown and UC Santa Barbara. Despite their 2-4 record out there, Manhattan had some important competition to get prepared for MAAC play and Bright led the team to an overall successful trip, earning her second Pitcher of the Week title.

“The pitchers of the week awards are really awesome,” Bright said. “It’s great to be recognized and having two of them this season was really cool.” I don’t really think about it while I’m playing. It was really fun to be out there. When I finished that second game and still hadn’t given up a run, I realized what I had done and it was really cool.”

“Amy has done an amazing job of really putting this team on her shoulders,” catcher Elena Bowman said. “She comes out every start with the same fire and the same intensity. It’s going to be a big loss for us. We are really going to miss not only her physical presence but especially her emotional presence and the way she leads us.”

Bright began playing softball at the age of 8. While she played other sports as well growing up, her focus became softball. She said that one person who has influenced her as a player over the years is her pitching coach growing up. He was her pitching coach from when she first started playing through the years until she went off to college. Seeing him two or three times a week for practice or games, he became a big influence on Bright as a person and a player.

“He taught me a lot about the game, the physical and mental stuff,” Bright said.

Every team and every player improve and develop each time they step on to the field or court. By the time someone gets to their senior season, they are able to look back on their time as a player, noticing their strengths and weaknesses and how they have improved over the years. One of Bright’s improvements has become noticeable as she took her position as starting pitcher and one of the leaders of the team.

“I used to get rattled very easily,” Bright said. “I did not keep my composure when I was a freshman and even younger. As I’ve grown and worked with Bridget and Elena and my team, I have so much more confidence in the team. I am able to stay focused on the mound and stay positive. That has been a huge change. From freshman to senior year, that has definitely been the biggest change.”

Something that is crucial to a successful softball team is the relationship between the pitcher and catcher. They need to have strong communication and to be able to understand each other in order to win the game. Despite being completely different positions with different responsibilities, these two players need to be on the same page and have the same game plan. This has been a key to Bright’s success and the team’s success so far this season.

“We work really well together,” Bowman said. “One thing we really pride ourselves on is always being on the same page. We work a lot in bullpens and spend a lot of time together to make sure that we are always going with the same approach at batters. I would say as far as that relationship goes, we are close because we work together so often and so well together.”

“Each game is different,” Bright said, “the teams are different. Elena and I talk before the games. We always have a game plan and talk about specific people. We’ve seen these people multiple times, so we know what we are going to do. Mentally, when you go in, it is nice to know when you are starting and you can get that game plan.”

With the regular season coming to a close, the Jaspers are preparing for the upcoming MAAC tournament and now is the time to shine. After making it last season for the first time since 2011, Manhattan has goals set for this season and so does Bright. Along with the three other seniors on the team, Bright is making the most of her final games as a Jasper.

“Her senior season is important to her,” Coach Hurlman said. “She’s trying to put her best foot out there for her team and do her job in the circle.”

The team stands at 25-16 overall and 13-5 in the MAACs. They are tied for first place in the conference and the team is prepared to achieve their goals going into the tournament because, for some, it is their final opportunity.

“As a senior, it’s the last chance,” Bright said. “I came into this season knowing I had nothing to lose and that this was it. The four of us have put everything into this season. If we are going to win, this is going to be the year. You go into every game knowing that.”

Women’s Lacrosse Finishes Season with Win on Senior Day

On their final game of the season, the Jaspers honored their seniors in a great fashion by earning a 9-8 victory over Marist. Despite their 1-7 record in conference play, it was an important moment for them to hand Marist a loss before the Red Foxes go into the MAAC tournament.

“We struggled a lot this season,” Donna Jo DiNorcia said. “So to pull it all together defensively and offensively was a big thing, especially for the seniors. We proved to the coaches that we really could play with a good team.”

The Jaspers honored seniors Domenica O’Brey, Carly Cappello, DiNorcia, Kaleigh Howe and co-captains Christina Fiorinelli and Caitlin Hynes before their game Wednesday April 22. In net, Fiorinelli had a team-best 60 ground balls and DiNorcia had an impressive game after returning from an injury. She helped lead the Jaspers’ scoring with a hat trick.

“Coming off of an injury, I didn’t even expect to be on the field that long,” DiNorcia said. “Putting in the first goal was enough for me. It was just a great way to go out.”

Even though the team did not have a winning record this season, they have improved greatly over the last few years and they look toward the future to get even better. Junior co-captain Megan Yarusso said that winning on senior day was the team’s best achievement this season.

Still, They have strong numbers to be proud of this season. Yarusso led the team in goals and points with 34 and 45 respectively. Junior co-captain Kaitlyn Cunningham had a team-high 12 assists and seven players finished in double digits in scoring.

“Ending on a high note showed us and the coaches that we are good,” Yarusso said. “It showed that we could hang with or even beat good teams. Finally coming together as a whole was the cherry on top this season.”

Both DiNorcia and Yarusso said that the last few years on the team have been a growing experience and a learning process. After some coaching changes over the past few years, they have found who can help the team reach their goals. Head coach Elizabeth Weber and assistant coach Amanda Trendell have been improving the program in great ways.

“In previous years, we were getting blown out by mediocre teams,” Yarusso said. “This year, we were losing to really good teams by one or two goals.”

A new style of defense has been the key to the Jaspers’ change. Coach Trendell was an impressive player at Rutgers, winning the Midfielder of the Year Award in 2013 as well as being a member of the team when they ranked sixth nationally in defense.

“Our coaches now are really going to take the program in the right direction,” DiNorcia said. “I believe that the seniors helped pave the way for that. We’ve come a long way.”

As DiNorcia finishes her time as a Jasper, she hopes to see the team improve to a winning record in the future. She said that there are different people who can work together and have a connection, which will help the team be successful.

“This whole year was a learning process,” Yarusso said. “Getting that connection should start in the fall. With the incoming class, we should start building that relationship with everyone on the team.

Tennis Honors Seniors Bricketto and Rosello

Before their April 13th matchup against Monmouth, the Jaspers honored seniors Caitlin Bricketto and Alyssa Rosello. Both players went on to earn wins in their single matches. They notched Manhattan’s two points in their 5-2 loss to the Hawks.

Looking back at the past four years, Rosello and Bricketto recall the obstacles that they have overcome with the team. One major factor is the team’s consistent theme of a small roster. In previous years, the team just hit the average roster size of eight players. However, it has been decreasing each year and in this current season, they only have five active players. Another factor was getting a new coach last season, which helped their program change for the better.

“Getting new coaching was a major change,” Rosello said. “It brought our team to a whole different level.”

Head coach Amanda McEntire is currently in her second year with the team. While the roster size is still a factor in their matches, the team has been improving greatly over the last two years. Last season, their first under Coach McEntire, they placed sixth in the conference and qualified for the playoffs. While this achievement didn’t happen as they had hoped again this season, they continue to be improving together as a team.

“We are together 24/7,” Bricketto said. “We’ve become so strong together as a team. We’ve never really had that before but we have come together and support each other so much this season.”

Rosello added by stressing the fact that the team is always supportive of one another and that they keep positive attitudes.

Another aspect of their team that has been important to these two seniors is their level of play. The program has changed over the years along with them. It has improved to a real division one program, which means workouts, practicing everyday, having a home court and a team trainer.

“We weren’t really a division one program if you look back at our freshman and sophomore years,” Bricketto said. “It is things that normal division one teams do that we were not doing, but now we are. It is 100% a step up in the program.”

One obstacle that the team has overcome in the last few years has been their court access. With no tennis court located on campus, the team would have to always travel to a match or even just for practice. They used to play across the street in Van Cortlandt Park. However, they were not guaranteed courts there.

Now, they travel to Queens and play at the United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Or, they go to Horace Mann and use their court. However, they have had only three matches at these locations, which means that they have spent most of their season traveling to other teams’ home courts.

Both Rosello and Bricketto said that they hope for more players to join and that the team can get more home matches in the coming future. Their game at Horace Mann was the first time the team had ever played there. Only having one home game does not bring a lot of support from the school and they wish that will improve for future members of their team.

“I hope that tennis will become more of a sport on campus,” Bricketto said. “The girls who put all their time and effort into it deserve the support.”

 

Tennis Hopes to Return to MAAC Tournament

An obstacle the women’s tennis team has had to overcome is their roster size.

Manhattan has a total of six girls on its roster. Due to injury, it plays five. It’s eligible to play this season, although a full roster is supposed to have eight players.

“We’ve been a bit unlucky with injuries and a small lineup,” coach Amanda McEntire said, “but they’re going out there and playing hard against tough teams. That gets us ready for conference play.”

A tennis match consists of three doubles teams and six singles. Manhattan goes into every match having to forfeit its three doubles and six singles matches, losing out on a point because of their small roster. To remain competitive, it has to win two doubles and four singles to garner a point.

“You go into every match having an uphill climb,” McEntire said, “but they’ve embraced the challenge. We look forward to competing with everyone.”

“Tennis isn’t like basketball or baseball where you can see that it was a close game,” senior Alyssa Rosello said.

The top six teams in the MAAC go to the tournament. For Manhattan (0-3 MAAC, 1-5), it has to beat Monmouth (1-1 MAAC, 1-6), Saint Peter’s (3-2 MAAC, 4-5) and Rider (0-4 MAAC, 1-9) to earn a playoff spot.

Manhattan was the sixth seed last season.

“We’ve been playing really well as a team,” Bricketto said. “Even though we only have five players, all of us have stepped up. We’re practicing really hard and I think we’re in a good place.”

“No matter if we’re winning or losing, always cheer for the person next to you.”

Women’s Lacrosse Drops Second MAAC Game

Coming off a tough loss to Sacred Heart on Wednesday March 25, the Jaspers prepared for a visit from MAAC opponent Canisius at Gaelic Park on Saturday.

In Wednesday’s matchup, the Jaspers were leading most of the game. However, Sacred Heart went on a 5-0 run in the last six minutes to take the win from Manhattan with a 9-8 final.

“On the attacking side, communication is key to getting us to come together,” senior Carly Cappello said. “It showed in our game versus Sacred Heart. We communicated and we scored those goals.”

After losing that game, the Jaspers realized that they can’t just be satisfied with the score. It is always hard trying to maintain a lead and Manhattan knows that they want to finish every game knowing that they gave it their all.

“Having a lead, our problem is being complacent,” junior co-captain Megan Yarusso said. “The other team will realize that and capitalize on it. It’s all about composure. We have to focus on the overall result of the game.”

Canisius has been on a streak, winning four of their last five games, going into Saturday’s matchup. Senior Tori Quinn has been leading all season both offensively and defensively, with 20 goals, 11 assists and 18 caused turnovers on the defensive end. She added to her numbers and was a tough obstacle for the Jaspers in their matchup, scoring two goals and three assists in the 10-1 Canisius victory.

“It comes down to execution,” Cappello said, who scored Manhattan’s lone goal against Canisius. “Everyone is excited to be in conference now and it’s about us playing our game. We have to count on each other on the field.”

One of the themes for the Jaspers this season has been questionable refereeing. While it can be tough to deal with, Manhattan has used it to motivate them in each game and their season altogether. They focus on putting it away on the attacking end.

“If you’re not happy with the referees’ calls,” head coach Elizabeth Weber said, “you use it as momentum going forward. It’s about having a great defensive stopper and putting it away in the back of the cage.”

Taking some positives out of the loss, Coach Weber said that the team’s transition game has evolved greatly. It was one of their struggles at the beginning of the season but now they have it figured out. Another aspect of their game that has been improving is their defense, and it showed in their game against Canisius. Goalkeeper Christina Fiorinelli had 13 saves on the 23 shots she faced. Manhattan led with 18 ground balls and only had 16 fouls, compared to the Golden Griffins’ 31.

“At the end of the day, it’s about finishing our shots and being right in the game,” Coach Weber continued. “We’re getting over that hump and we’re right there.”

Having a new assistant coach this season, the team’s focus has been their defense. They have been working since the fall with assistant coach Amanda Trendell, who has brought some great experience to Manhattan. A Rutgers graduate, Trendell received the Midfielder of the Year Award in 2013 and her team ranked sixth nationally defensively.

“It’s a learning experience,” Yarusso said. “We’re still trying to figure each other out. Communication is the number one thing and we are learning that together.”

Not letting this loss get to them, the Jaspers are ready for their next game, against MAAC opponent Siena next week. They are taking the positives from this matchup and going to use that as momentum in preparation of getting their first conference win. In addition to Siena, they play Quinnipiac next week as well.

“When we stick to our game plan, we can beat any team,” Yarusso said. “It’s just about us executing it.”

Swimming and Diving Teams Combine for 18 Broken Records at MAACs

Manhattan started off on a high note at the 2015 MAAC Championships last week.

Its strong performance continued for the duration of the championships. By the end of the fourth and final day, both teams combined to set 18 new school records.

“It’s really outstanding for our women’s team,” Sara Buckley, freestyle swimmer, said. “I feel like each year we are improving drastically and each year we see records going down at MAACs. The fact that we were able to shatter 18 this year is great for our program.”

Along with breaking 11 of the 18 records, the women’s team set new times in the 200, 400 and 800 freestyle including the 200 and 400 medley relay races in the same competition. This was the first team in program history that achieved this accomplishment.

“It was important because my freshman year I was only on one relay team,” Buckley said. “This year I was on four and we were able to break records in each of them. Comparing last year to this year, it was so self-motivating to be on four relay teams that were able to beat four records. For the team and myself, I thought that was really great for us.”

On the first night of the championships, Madison Brown; Alexandra Hutzler; Kerry Schuermann and Patricia Colton raced in the 200 medley relay to a finish that was three seconds better than the previous school record. In the 800 freestyle, Michaela Schatz; Buckley; Audrey Corcoran and Eileen Blood broke the school mark by almost five seconds.

On night two, Brown, Hutzler, Buckley and Colton set a new record in the 200-freestyle with a 1:39.98. The previous record was a time of 1:40.91 set in 2012.

Then on the third night, Schuermann; Brown; Buckley and Hutzler set a new school best in the 400 medley relay.

To finish up the championships, Buckley; Brown; Colton and Hutzler set a new record in the 400 freestyle.

The championships were a great showing all around, with multiple members of the team contributing to the successful nights.

“Compared to previous years, we are gaining a lot of depth and variety,” Buckley said. “We had a lot of great incoming freshmen as well as our current performers from all different grades.  I think we are just going to continue to improve.”

“Last year it was only a few people who contributed,” Brown, butterfly swimmer, said. “This year it was a lot more. That shows that our recruitment has gotten better and hopefully it will continue.”

As the team finished up this impressive season, they look toward next season and the future of the program. They hope to break more milestones and find talented recruits to help their program get even better.

Buckley noted how the men’s team started out with nothing and have worked their way up.

“I think that we will definitely be able to do the same and improve in the coming years,” Buckley said. “Hopefully we will be able to gain more talented swimmers in the future and our program will continue to get better. We’re in that in between stage where we’re getting there but hopefully one day we’ll be in the top three at MAACs.”

Women’s Winter Break Recap

While most college students stayed home over the winter break, many athletes remained on campus for practices and games.

Draddy Gymnasium continued to be filled with Jaspers, whether they were members of the basketball, swimming or track and field teams.

The women’s basketball team was in the midst of an eight-game home stand. The swim team competed in Hawaii. And the track and field team concluded the semester with the Brother Jasper Invitational before competing at the Gotham Cup to start the New Year.

On Dec. 13, at the invitational, the women’s track and field team competed strongly. The team only appeared in five events but came up big with two first-place and two second-place finishes.

Marisa Robbins won first in the pole vault for the second time with her best performance at 3.60 m. Paige Chapman had a solid time of 7.82 seconds winning her the 60.

Lydia Wehrli and Katharina Klien also had strong showings for the Jaspers. Wehrli finished second in the weight throw with her 16.66 m toss and Klien earned second in the shot put at 12.28 m.

The track and field team returns to action on Jan. 23 for the Metro Team Challenge.

On Jan. 9, in Honolulu, Hawaii, the women’s swim team lost a tough meet to Colorado College despite a strong showing. Madison Brown, Sarah Buckley and Alexandra Hutzler were named Manhattan Performers of the Meet. All three earned first-place in their respective events.

Brown had a time of 30.50 in the 50 back, which earned her first place by 1.28 seconds. Buckley posted a 27.19 in the 50 free, taking the lead by .09 seconds. Hutzler earned a top finish in the 100 individual medley with 1:05.97.

The Jaspers return home for Senior Night against Baruch on Jan. 19 and host Hunter on Jan. 23.

The women’s basketball team (2-13, 1-5 MAAC) was busy with its longest home stand in team history. It concluded an eight game stretch at Draddy with a matchup against the Monmouth Hawks (6-9, 2-4 MAAC) on Jan. 16.

The home stand was a tough one for the Jaspers, who finished with a 1-7 record. Their only victory came against the Rider Broncs on Jan. 4.

The team overcame a 12-point deficit to tally a 55-52 win that marked its first win at home over Rider in three years and snapped a 10-game losing streak against it. It was also Manhattan’s first home win since Feb. 4, 2014.

The Jaspers’ next game was against the defending MAAC Champion Marist Red Foxes. The Jaspers had solid individual performances, but it was not enough as they were defeated 67-45.

Shayna Ericksen led the Jaspers with 10 rebounds, eight on the offensive glass. Kayla Grimme had nine points and a career-high five blocks. Taylor Williams tallied six rebounds and Manhattan shot 83.3 percent at the free throw line.

There to witness the game were 850 students from five elementary schools in the area. It was the fifth consecutive year the Jaspers hosted Kid’s Day Out.

In the final game of its home stand, Manhattan was not able to contain the Monmouth Hawks

The Jaspers put up a strong fight by coming back from a 47-33 deficit at the half to get to within two points with just under two minutes left in the game. However, Monmouth converted on its opportunities and staved off the Jaspers for a 73-69 victory.

Next on Manhattan’s schedule is a trip to Albany where it will face the Siena Saints.