LB Dolph honored after record-setting day
Two days after he put his name into the St. Xavier University football record book, linebacker Zach Dolph also got it attached to a couple of prestigious awards.
The senior was tabbed as the NAIA National Defensive Player of the Week for his role in the Cougars’ 12-6 victory over William Penn University on Oct. 26, and also received that same designation from the Mid-States Football Association, which chose Dolph as the top defender in the Midwest League for that week.
Dolph was in on 23 tackles — five of them solo efforts — versus the Statesman, a single-game defensive performance that eclipsed the 20-tackle ones former SXU linebackers Sean Kenney and Joe Miller both produced on the same day in 2007. In addition, Dolph registered 1 1/2 tackles for loss and a half-sack as the Cougars held William Penn to 199 total yards.
Dolph, who also was selected as the national Player of the Week on Sept. 9 following SXU’s 31-24 come-from-behind overtime triumph against defending national champion Marian University, leads the Cougars in total tackles this season with 94. He is second in solo stops (36), sacks (three), forced fumbles (three) and interceptions (one), and third in tackles for loss (6).
Dolph’s 10.6 tackles-per-game average is 11th overall in the NAIA, while he is 16th in forced-fumbles average.
Also feted by the MSFA as its Special Teams Player of the Week was Spencer Nolen, who kicked 31- and 50-yard field goals, averaged more than 40 yards on seven punts, and also gained 16 yards on a fake punt to keep alive a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in SXU’s lone touchdown versus William Penn.
The NAIA honored Nolen on Sept. 30 after he kicked five field goals in a game, making the Cougars one of only two programs in the country to have three national honorees thus far during the 2013 campaign. Both Nolen and Dolph have been two-time Player of the Week selections in the MSFA.
Freshman midfielder Christina Sperando’s goal in the 39th minute was enough to lift the Cougars to a 1-0 nonconference victory over Illinois Institute of Technology last Tuesday night at Stuart Field in Chicago.
SXU put seven of its 18 shots on goal, while the Scarlet Hawks required Cougars keeper Danielle Koncius to make saves on just three of their 15 total shots. The shutout was Koncius’ first of the season.
Sophomore Christina Szocka produced four of SXU’s total shots, including three of the ones that were on target.
Junior Morgan Graves had a goal and assist to lead the Cougars to a 4-1 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference triumph over Roosevelt University Saturday night at Bruce R. Deaton Field. The four goals represented a single-match high for SXU this season.
Graves made her presence felt early on, as she set up sophomore forward Lexi Cozzi for a score just 16 minutes into the match. Junior Marissa Graves then knocked home an unassisted goal from 10 yards out shortly before halftime to stake the hosts to a 2-0 advantage.
The Cougars (6-10-1, 3-7) then ballooned their edge to 4-0 during the second half, as freshman forward Mariana Hoerr and Morgan Graves converted shots. Sperando and sophomore defender Rachel Didier set up Graves’ tally in the 65th minute. Lakers midfielder Delaney Barrett ruined Koncius’ bid for a second straight whitewash in the 83rd minute by redirecting Carli Schlaker’s free kick.
Koncius made saves on two other occasions. The Cougars unleashed a total of 22 shots, 14 of which tested Roosevelt’s netminder.
Before Saturday’s match, SXU seniors Anita Balciunas, Molly Sheehan, Rachel Wojtysiak and Jessica DePinto were recognized for their career contributions to the Cougars program.
SXU concluded its regular-season schedule this past Wednesday versus Robert Morris University in Arlington Heights.
An early goal by sophomore forward Marco Gutierrez proved the difference as the Cougars matched their female counterparts at SXU by securing a 1-0 win over IIT at Stuart Field.
Gutierrez found the back of the net only four minutes into last Wednesday’s nonconference encounter, and senior keeper Kyle Held made sure that slim edge was maintained by turning aside a half-dozen Scarlet Hawks shots. The shutout was Held’s fourth of the campaign.
The Cougars were outshot 16 to 10 overall by IIT and put one less shot on target.
With the victory, SXU completed a successful October with a 6-1-1 mark. Five of those successes came in CCAC action and kept the Cougars in the hunt for a league championship.
Despite putting 10 of their 16 shots on goal, the Cougars were unable to penetrate Roosevelt’s defense even one time Saturday afternoon, which allowed the visiting Lakers to ride a lone tally to a 1-0 CCAC victory at Deaton Field.
The loss not only ruined SXU’s Senior Day, but it effectively removed the Cougars from title contention within the CCAC. Their only remaining conference matchup was this past Tuesday’s confrontation with Robert Morris, although success there would probably have granted SXU (7-8-1, 6-3-1) hosting privileges for a first-round CCAC playoff match on Saturday.
Roosevelt notched the marker it needed to beat the Cougars in the 69th minute, when freshman defender Jackson Grueber sent a free kick into the net. That was the only one of five Lakers on-target shots Held was unable to turn aside.
Held, Dale Judickas, James King and Ramon Diaz II were the four SXU upperclassmen who were honored prior to the team’s final home encounter of the regular schedule.
Junior midfielder Brandon Simoes was credited with three of the Cougars’ shots on goal against Roosevelt.
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
The 2013 season just continues to get better for the Cougars.
After a strong showing in the NAIA Pre-National Invitational in Kansas, SXU ran well again at the Great Lakes Invitational in Grand Rapids, Mich., where it placed fifth among 39 complete teams on Oct. 26. Included in the field along with the No. 14-ranked Cougars were top-rated University of St. Francis, No. 3 Aquinas (Mich.) College, No. 7 Shawnee State (Ohio) University and No. 12 Olivet Nazarene University.
In chilly and wet conditions at Riverside Park, SXU senior Brian Corcoran completed the 8K race in 25 minutes, 11 seconds, which was good for eighth place overall among 387 competitors. Sophomore Eric Hancock was 18th (25:40), and the senior trio of Chris Shellenberger (26:05), Brian Meyer (26:10) and Chris Sarna (26:18) all finished in the top 50.
Although they didn’t figure in the Cougars’ point total, both senior Shane Kenney (26:28) and freshman Abel Hernandez (26:42) also ran well.
“This was truly a team high point for the season,” SXU coach Ed McAllister said. “Everyone is running toward their individual peak, and we are functioning as a unit as well as any team that I have coached here.
“Corcoran ran a smart strategic race and Hancock unleashed the best performance of his career. Brian Meyer ran hurt, but still was able to have a strong performance. Shane Kenney is moving up weekly and Abel Hernandez is starting to get some solid performances behind him.
“I believe that we will be ready for conference. I am very excited [about it].”
Both the Cougars men and women will take part in the CCAC Championship on Saturday at Sunset Hills Farm in Valparaiso, Ind.
Ten kills and 15 assists from junior defensive specialist/outside hitter Jessica Galotta helped the Cougars defeat Trinity International University 25-22, 25-15, 27-25 in a CCAC match last Tuesday night at the Shannon Center.
Sophomore middle blocker Heidi Gregerson added 10 kills and a pair of blocks for SXU, while junior middle blocker Marie Hackert chipped in seven kills and six total blocks. Also contributing to the winning cause were junior setter Kelli Shaffer (28 assists, three kills, five digs, three assisted blocks, one service ace), junior libero Dominique Aramburu (18 digs, two aces) and freshman defensive specialist Erica Harris (nine digs, three aces).
The Cougars put down 38 kills while committing only 11 hitting errors.
Sophomore right-side hitter Meghan Falsey’s 12 kills were the main ingredient in SXU’s 26-24, 25-22, 25-20 CCAC victory over Robert Morris University last Thursday night in Arlington Heights.
Hackert supported Falsey’s effort with 11 kills and five total blocks, while Shaffer passed out 36 assists to spark the offense. The latter also contributed seven digs, two kills, two aces and two assisted blocks. Others making their presence felt on the Cougars’ behalf were Galotta (nine kills five digs) and Aramburu (12 digs).
SXU (14-13, 7-8) visited Roosevelt University this past Tuesday for another conference match.