BY BROOKS HOLTON – SPORTS EDITOR
With the fall semester coming to a close, fall sports are also entering their final days. Tournaments are being held, conference champions are being crowned, and, if you’re lucky, seasons are extending with all eyes now being turned towards the dream of a National Championship that’s getting closer and closer over the horizon—the same horizon that started what feels like forever ago during the dog days of summer. With all the preparation in the past, here’s how the Colonels faired in 2015.
After two tough back-to-back losses at the midway point of the season, the football team rallied together to finish 2015 on a five game winning streak, good enough for an 8-2 record on the year and second place in the conference. Highlights from the end of the season include a big win on Senior Day against rival Rhodes College—a game that saw fifth-year senior Heath Haden break the school record for career touchdown passes—and an emotional, come-from-behind win at Berry College last weekend when the team scored 23 unanswered points to put a 30-23 exclamation point over the Vikings and on top of a solid season.
Centre Field Hockey continued their amazing run of success as of late with their third-straight regular season conference title and another appearance in the SAA Championship this season. Unfortunately, the Colonels lost a heartbreaker to Rhodes, 3-2 in double overtime, finishing the year with a 10-6 record and missing out on a repeat birth in the NCAA Tournament. There are still several silver linings to be taken from the season, though. Senior Erin Mays was named SAA Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season, while Coach Jenelle Anthony brought home her third SAA Coach of the Year honor. The team also boasts seven All-SAA selections with Mays, along with senior Julie Gates and junior Nicole DeHerde, being the three Colonels named to the first team.
The men’s soccer team made quite the run in the SAA Tournament as the number-six seed that included an electric upset of Berry College in penalty kicks, but fell to Millsaps College 5-0 in the conference semifinals. On the season, the Colonels ended up 7-9-2, with a rather impressive home record of 5-2-1. Hopefully the momentum gained towards the end of the season can propel the team forward and to many more deep postseason runs to come.
Third straight regular season championship, fourth consecutive SAA Tournament Championship, dominating the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament on their home turf to earn a second-straight birth to the Sweet Sixteen and a matchup with Thomas Moore College set for this week in Pittsburgh—just another exciting postseason with Centre Women’s Soccer. The Colonels, ranked ninth in the country in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America standings of 2015, will look to continue their run with another chance at the Elite 8 looming just one victory away.
Both the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams fell short of their fourth consecutive SAA Championship in 2015—with the men posting fourth and the women third at their home course in Danville—but that didn’t stop the Colonels from bringing home some personal hardware. Senior Victory Pataky and sophomore Nathan Riggs posted a 1-2 finish in the championship race, while junior Serena Gale-Butto took home first place amongst all-SAA women runners. The teams continued their postseason with another successful showing at NCAA Regionals, with the men finishing eleventh and the women coming in ninth. Pataky, Riggs, and Gale-Butto now turn their attention to the NCAA Finals on November 21 at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
The Colonels had a strong end to their 2015 regular season, winning their last five games in a row, but found an early exit waiting for them in the SAA tournament, losing 3-1 to Millsaps College. That being said, the team still managed to finish 2015 over the .500 mark at 16-14, and seniors Elizabeth Janszen and Beth Cecil were both named first team All-SAA selections. Cecil was also named an honorable mention on the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association’s All-South Region team.
All in all, 2015 falls just a bit short to the record-setting fall of 2014 that saw the Colonels bring home SAA titles in four different sports. But that didn’t stop Centre students to continue to show the world that they’re capable of amazing things on the field. Games come and go, but the comradery that exits between athletic teams on this campus is something that will be forever engrained in who we are.
It’s been a great ride, Colonels. Another season of opportunity waits not too far down the road in the spring.