BY MATT MERKEL
For the first time since I have been at Franciscan our Athletic Department pushed out a strong class of fall teams across the board that looked determined and competitive. I have spent the last two years doing public relations work for the Athletic Department and this is the first fall semester where stories were focused more on the wins and less on how hard we tried.
Women’s Volleyball just finished a strong season ending in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference semifinals with a loss to underdog Pit-Bradford. The Lady Barons Volleyball team finished 8-1 in their conference this season and gave Baron fans what they wanted, finishing with a home record of 6-3. They also went into the playoffs with the second seed in the AMCC. And here’s the kicker: They actually underperformed. Head Coach Kelly Herrmann set a goal for her girls to be the Conference Champions and for the first time, it seemed totally achievable. The volleyball team has nothing to worry about. They have a strong young team led by Herrmann, who is an incredibly strong athlete herself; she was voted female athlete of the year during all four of her collegiate years. Look for them to bring home the conference banner next fall as they return their entire team for the 2014 season.
Women’s Soccer has a very similar story. They lost in the AMCC semifinals against powerhouse Penn-State Behrend with a final score of 4-2. Head Coach Clare McBane is in her first year as the head of the Lady Barons soccer team and transformed her roster into a powerful team with multiple dynamics. They finished their season with a franchise best record 12-8 with a season goal to make it to the playoffs. With a win over the University of Pitt-Greensburg in the AMCC Quarterfinals they did that and so much more in 2013. Look for them to get stronger as they bring back nearly every Lady Baron for next year’s season.
Women’s Tennis had a stunning season after they earned AMCC runner-up after a loss to Penn-State Behrend. Head Coach Jenna Lynch had a difficult task at the beginning of this season after only one person from their successful 2012 roster returned for this season. Miraculously, Lynch found young women who worked together and created a deep Lady Baron tennis team that could not be contended with in the conference. They finished 8-1 in the conference and sent six of their girls to the AMCC First Team All Conference squad.
Men’s Soccer still toiled without appearing in the playoffs but for the first time in many seasons they looked strong and were in contention for games they had no business winning. Men’s Soccer 2013 had a much stronger psyche than last year’s, which would typically get down one point and seem to give up and lose the game by four or five goals. Now they battle back every game and were just a few losses away from entering playoffs. Look for them to make playoffs next season.
One of the biggest reasons for success is the strong Baron freshman class that has entered our campus. They have the talent of athletes years older than them and have given each and every one of our teams a boost. I could do a separate article on each of them, and I very well might. All I know is that we have a strong fall season ahead of us for the next four years, and as Hannah Flannagan’s sign reads in the stands, “It’s a Good Day to be a Baron.”