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Fall 2016 Review: A Season of Firsts for CNR Athletics

January 3, 2017
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From a long list of "firsts" to championship performances, remarkable individual feats, and goals reached, it’s clear that the Fall 2016 season will go down as one of the most successful in the history of the Blue Angels athletics program.

The season began with a mix of uncertainty and excitement, as The College of New Rochelle welcomed its first men's sports teams. It also welcomed the largest recruiting class of athletes on record at CNR, which included student-athletes from 15 states across the US and Puerto Rico.

It didn't take long for the first of many "firsts," as the new men's soccer team won its inaugural contest against John Jay 3-0, followed up by its first home victory in front of an enthusiastic crowd. By season’s end, the team had chalked up its first title, winning the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) regular season title with a perfect 8-0 mark. The soccer team ended up leading the NCAA in goals and goals per game and had the best first season on record with the NCAA.

Freshman Jovanni Garcia (Garden Grove, CA) became the first CNR student-athlete to win a major NCAA statistical title since 2009, when Casey Cappelli won in women's basketball for blocks. He finished the season first in the NCAA in three categories, with 30 goals, 20 assists, and 80 points. Garcia also become the first Blue Angel to win AD3I's Student Athlete of the Month twice, and topped that off by becoming the first Blue Angel to win the ECAC's Metro Region Offensive Player of the Year.

Women's volleyball won its fourth straight HVIAC championship and sixth overall, putting the program in first place for a number of HVIAC titles in any women's sport in the conference. The team earned it’s first-ever NCAA post-season bid (and the first for CNR athletics in over 30 years). The team drew a tough Emory University squad, who ended up advancing to the Elite Eight. But CNR hung with the powerhouse, who had been to the NCAA tournament 22 previous times.  It was a momentous team highlight that capped off a fall to remember.

Meanwhile, women's tennis marked it’s first-ever appearance in the finals after defeating Vaughn in the semifinals. The fall season also saw CNR shatter records for the number of individual awards. Combined, the fall teams went an impressive 40-24, with both men's soccer and women's volleyball going undefeated at home.

Altogether, CNR student-athletes were honored 24 times for Weekly Player of the Week or Rookie of the Week by the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.  Additionally, they received four National Player of the Week honors from the Association of Division III Independents.

CNR won numerous post-season accolades in each sport.

Women's Volleyball - Senior Melanie Ann Lopez Soto (Gurabo, PR) was named HVIAC Player of the Year.  Freshmen Cristal Liciaga (San Juan, PR) and Brianna Garcia (San Juan, PR) were named to the All-Conference team.  From the AD3I, CNR's Liciaga won Rookie of the Year and head coach Alyssa Kaufman was named Coach of the Year. Lopez Soto and Garcia, as well as freshman Imani Debose (Carson, CA), senior Tiany Perez Diaz (Juncos, PR), and junior Tamara Beckford (Bronx, NY) were named to the All-Conference teams.

Men's Soccer – Jovanni Garcia won both Player of the Year awards for HVIAC and AD3I, while freshman Cesar Rodriguez (Santa Ana, CA) was selected as Rookie of the Year in HVIAC.  The AD3I selected freshman Nicorey Warren (Brooklyn, NY) as Rookie of the Year and freshman Ty Lenk (Black Mountain, NC) as Defensive Player of the Year. Freshman Cristian Perez Del Castillo (Harrison, NY) was tabbed Goalkeeper of the Year. Rodriguez and freshmen Oscar Guido (Kendall, FL) were selected as AD3I All-Conference, while freshman Gabriel Lopez (Madrid, Spain) was honored as All-Conference by HVIAC.

Women's Tennis -  Freshman Sydney Thompson (Chelan, WA) and freshman Chloe Wang (White Plains, NY) were named to the First Team All-conference in the HVIAC Women's Tennis league.

As the fall turned into the first half of the winter sports season, it was time for the swimming and basketball teams to get in on the success, and they wasted no time.

Both men's swimming and basketball won their home openers, completing the trifecta for the three new men's teams (all won their inaugural home contests).

Records were frequently broken in the pool, as freshmen Eileen Chia (White Plains, NY) and Chloe Wang (White Plains, NY) now each have eight individual records and are both part of five new relay records.  On the men's side, freshman Aaron Williams (White Plains, NY) shattered 13 records and has been beaten only three times in all his races.  Freshmen Robert Weyhrauch (Bronx, NY) has recorded two records and Rhiana Brown (Virginia Beach, VA) recorded one record.

The women's team sits at 4-5 at the midway point, with more wins to date than in the last two seasons combined. Chia was just named the AD3I Student Athlete of the Month, the first time a swimmer has earned that honor.

Women's basketball is off to a strong start as freshman Dar'Neisha Brice (Lexington Park, NY) has won three weekly HVIAC awards and has been named AD3I Player of the Week once. On the men's side, CNR has had three different freshmen win HVIAC Rookie of the Week awards. Freshman Matthew Dean (Marlboro, NJ) was named AD3I Player of the Week. Junior Jack Tisdale (Dayton, OH) hit for a program record 36 points against Berkeley.  CNR also hit its first 100-point contest - a 101-32 win over Culinary Institute.

The Blue Angels are back in action on January 4, 2017, hoping to add many more accomplishments and firsts to an already remarkable 2016-17 campaign.