The Browns aren’t the only Cleveland team enjoying success.
John Carroll University’s fall sports teams are in the midst of a truly memorable fall season.
The football team plays Mount Union on Saturday, the men’s soccer squad won the regular season Ohio Athletic Conference Championship and the volleyball team came within three sets of an OAC Tournament Championship.
Many are beginning to catch onto JCU’s success. Attendance is growing at athletic events and campus small talk now includes a conversation about our sports teams.
Unfortunately, the NCAA did not hold JCU’s teams in the same regard during the selection process for two NCAA Tournaments on Monday. The volleyball squad and the men’s soccer team were not granted at-large bids, effectively ending their seasons.
Emotions understandably ran high. But instead of feeling angry about the situation, let’s take a step back and realize how successful the season has been.
The renaissance of the volleyball program has been a wonder to behold. Head coach Laura Rodeffer has completely transformed the program in three short years.
The Blue Streaks finished the season with a record of 23-7 overall and 7-2 in conference play, the best marks since 1996. Rodeffer’s squad reached the OAC Tournament Championship for the first time since 1995. With only one senior on the roster, the Blue and Gold went toe-to-toe with more experienced squads and nearly won an OAC title.
Many players did an outstanding job. If you see Sarah Orlandi, Kit O’Shaughnessy or Leah Switalski, give them a pat on the back. Each played a critical role on the team and received All-OAC honors on Saturday.
For the first time since 2005, the JCU men’s soccer squad captured a regular season OAC Championship. The Blue Streaks followed up by reaching the OAC Tournament Championship game for the fourth consecutive season.
One goal was all that separated JCU from a win over Heidelberg and an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Blue Streaks mounted a valiant comeback that came up short in a 5-4 loss to the Student Princes on Saturday.
While this team will not get to experience the postseason, its members certainly have plenty to remember.
Following a 1-0 loss to Medaille College on Sept. 13, JCU captured 14 straight wins, including nine OAC victories. This Blue Streak squad became only the fifth JCU team since 1984 to accomplish this feat. Head coach Hector Marinaro picked up his 100th career win in the last game of the regular season.
Senior Brian Potocnik enjoyed one of the best seasons in JCU soccer history. The midfielder finished with 20 goals and 13 assists in 21 games. Potocnik set single-season records for both goals and points (53). He now holds career records for both games and minutes played.
A host of other Blue Streaks thrived outside of the spotlight, including Jimmy Mattina, Jacob Lombardo, Dalton Browsky and Derek Jenkins. Each player on this squad should be proud of the team’s accomplishments.
The men and women’s cross country squads, led by first-year head coach Kyle Basista, performed well. The men notched second at the OAC Championships, while the women claimed third. The future is bright for this program.
Last but not least, the football team brings a 9-0 record into a highly anticipated showdown with Mount Union on Saturday. The Blue Streaks have demolished their opponents this season by a margin of 497-67.
Unseating the perennial OAC Champions will not be easy. JCU has never beaten Mount Union in Alliance, and has not defeated the Purple Raiders since 1989.
If there was a year to take down Goliath, this is it. The Blue Streaks have one of the best teams in program history, with star quarterback Mark Myers leading a dynamic offense and linebacker Kevin Cope guiding a stout defense.
Even if JCU does not emerge victorious on Saturday, this school can take pride in its football program. Head coach Tom Arth and the Blue Streaks have found success doing things the right way.
The proof is in Arth’s 18-2 record and the host of NFL scouts in Don Shula Stadium’s press box during practices and games.
Enjoy the rest of the season, JCU. This is a golden age for John Carroll athletics.