Fall sports at Manhattan College still seeking on-field breakthrough


Manhattan College athletics are off to a slow start in the Fall season as non-conference play soon gives way to the conference schedule. The cold stretch for both men’s and women’s soccer teams and the volleyball team has led to only one team victory with nothing else to show for yet.

The women’s soccer team got on the board first with a 2-1 win over Wagner College on Aug. 27.

A good first half gave the Jaspers a 1-0 lead at halftime on a goal from junior forward Julia Nicholas before freshman Arancha Antunes entered the scoring charts for the first time in her career in the 57th minute. Antunes’ strike was for good measure, as Wagner retaliated with a goal in the 87th minute and were unable to overcome their early deficit.

The starting duties in net have been entrusted to freshman stopper Margaret Brunk. In the win over Wagner, Brunk stopped a season-high eight shots, and across five games has been credited with 28 saves.

Manhattan has retained a similar attack from a season ago which will continue to rely on the services of a goal-scoring threat in Nicholas, as well as the veteran presence of players like Corrine Jackson and Sami Derrico.

The pressure of Manhattan’s defense will continue to be a focal point since the goal-scoring pace has been slow out of the gate thus far. The defensive core of Maddie Feller, Mayah Wheeler, and Izzy Lachcik will look to find more synergy working together in the back and should serve to benefit from increased reps as the season goes on.

A strong defensive showing at Siena on Sept. 9 earned the Jaspers a hard-fought 1-1 tie. Wheeler was the lone goal-scorer in that one, easing some weight off the shoulders of the team’s traditional attackers to kick off Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.

The Manhattan men’s soccer team scheduled an uber-competitive non-conference featuring the likes of UConn and other higher-conference opponents.The returns on the scoreline have been light — with the Jaspers starting off with two ties and pair of losses — but head coach Jorden Scott has learned plenty about his team and the adjustments needed to get his team ready for conference play, beginning with a home date with Canisius on Sept. 16.

Scott and company journeyed up to Worcester for the season opener at Holy Cross on Aug. 24 and walked away with a 1-1 tie. The Jaspers had their share of chances to escape with a victory, but could not come up with a big moment in the second half when needed. After an inauspicious start, Holy Cross settled in for the second half and gave the Jaspers’ offense trouble with finding any continuity over the final 45 minutes.

Both teams scored from the penalty spot as Henry Hamilton calmly converted in the first half for Manhattan before Holy Cross’s response came in the second half. Neither team was able to score in real time despite combining for 22 shots.

Manhattan’s next result was a 2-2 tie at home against George Washington University. This one provided a glimpse of the Jaspers’ potential from a goal-scoring perspective with a goal each from Gunnar Studenhofft and Tony Yeboah.

Manhattan was down 2-1 when Yeboah had his first signature moment for Kelly Green and White. He was picked out by a pass from midfield stalwart Ensa Sanneh and deposited a ball in the back of the net to seal the tie.

The second home against La Salle University was an unmitigated disaster for reasons beyond the 2-0 scoreline. Studenhofft was sent off with a red card on a challenge in the 69th minute, and consequently suspended for the rivalry game at Columbia.  Manhattan also lost a valuable piece to a season-ending injury when center defender Anthony Denis went down with an achilles rupture. 

The injury bug has forced Harry Bark, Noah Boyce, and Malo Blondeau into overdrive giving them a real test of their will as they anchor the backline. The Manhattan defense was exposed at times in the 2-0 and 3-0 losses at Columbia and University of Connecticut, respectively.  Still, they were not able to regroup at all with the offense falling silent.

The impending return of reigning MAAC Defender of the Year Yassim Akki from injury should take pressure off each of them. However, for now, they will look to absorb every lesson in order to shut down offenses when it matters most in MAAC play.

The Manhattan volleyball team won one game a season ago, and so far 2023 has brought more losses for the program. In year two under head coach Mauro Miletic, the team is off to a winless start a quarter of the way through the season.

To their credit, the Jaspers have been playing deeper into games over their last three and stole a set from Purdue University Fort Wayne, Columbia, and Morgan State University.

It was expected to be another rebuild this season as the program looks to recover from a malaise which extended over several seasons. However, Miletic is no stranger to success dating back to him being an assistant for the Jaspers from 2014-2016.

The 2014 campaign was memorable for the volleyball program’s 21 wins, including a program record 13 victories in conference play. That Manhattan squad was also statistically exciting and was able to generate nationally-ranked marks in a few categories including digs and aces.

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