By Page Brown, Contributing Writer.
After a year of canceled competition due to COVID-19, all six UMF fall varsity teams are well underway with an active season. The Beavers have seen immense success, with teams placing in several events and tournaments alongside individual athletes receiving numerous accolades.
The field hockey team experienced a tremendous kickoff to their season, winning the Caryl Newhof Classic tournament at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. The team defeated Westfield State 6-1, with senior Alex Bessey knocking in a career-high of 4 goals, and Smith College 3-2 in the final game. Alex Bessey and Grace DiMarco both took home the top New England Collegiate Conference awards, with Bessey claiming Offensive Player of the Week and DiMarco hailed Goalkeeper of the Week for the opening week of play. Since then, the team has posted a 3-3 record, including 1-1 in conference play.
The men’s soccer team has also exhibited a strong start to the season, posting a 5-1 record in the opening few weeks of the Fall 2021 campaign. The team faced early obstacles of game cancellations due to COVID and weather, however senior captain goalkeeper Jonah Sautter said these obstacles have only brought the team closer. “We’ve continued to look forward and focus on what we can control,” Sautter said. “We are all connecting on and off the field.” In their season opener, the Beavers performed strong, winning 5-1. The victory was the first opening game victory since 2017. Yusuf Mohamed scored two goals, with Sautter tallying a career-high of nine saves. The accomplishment awarded Sautter with the North Atlantic Conference Men’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week for the conference’s first week of play.
The following game was against NAC rival Husson University, where a late rally saw the Beavers fall short 2-1 with Jimmy Pelletier scoring the sole goal. Since the loss, the Beavers have won five consecutive games including victories against Castleton University, Northern-Vermont University-Johnson, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, SUNY Cobleskill, and SUNY Delhi. The Beavers saw narrow victories against Castleton University, Johnson, and SUNY Cobleskill, with the pair of 2-1 victories being attributed to the overall grittiness of the team. The 5-1 victory against UMPI saw the Beavers take 28 shots on goal, with Gracien Mukwa netting two goals. The strong start creates an optimistic look into the postseason. Senior Captain Silas Mohler highlighted this excitement, yet remained focused on the upcoming games. “The conference is full of talented teams hungry to win, it should be a fun postseason,” Mohler said. “We have a great group of guys and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
The women’s soccer team has posted a 1-5 record in their opening games. The squad now heads into conference play, having faced University of Maine at Presque Isle, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and SUNY Delhi. The team has gone 1-2 against NAC opponents. The team’s conference victory came with a 1-0 win over the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Morgan Thompsom logged the lone goal for the day, while Farmington held a 28-10 advantage in total shots, alongside six corner kicks to UMPI’s one.
The cross country teams have participated in three invitational tournaments at Colby-Sawyer College, Thomas College and Husson University. The group is young, with 13 of the 22 runners being first-years. Head coach Sean Caniss noted their effect, saying they have “made a big impact” on the competitiveness and culture of the team.
On the women’s side, the Beavers took fourth place at the Colby-Sawyer Invitational, with Anna MacDonald finishing in 16th place with a time of 23:37.43. The Beavers scored 96 points, finishing behind Colby-Sawyer with 29 points, Plymouth State with 52 points, and St. Joseph’s College of Maine with 62 points.
The women had a strong finish at Thomas, clinching second place with 48 points, with Husson University winning the event with 37 points. MacDonald finished in seventh, with a time of 27:04.78. Emily Eaton finished just behind MacDonald, crossing the finish line in eighth place with a time of 27:10.18.
At Husson, the women finished in third place with 66 points. Charlotte Wentworth finished tenth, with a time of 23:05.6. Colby College won the Husson Harrier event with 38 points, followed by Husson University with 47.
The men’s cross country team ended in second place at the Colby-Sawyer Charger Invitational. The Beavers saw three runners finish in the top seven. Justin Castaldo was the first finisher for the Beavers, placing fourth with a time of 17:01.10. The Beavers scored 40 points, with Plymouth State winning the meet with 34 points.
At Thomas College, the Beavers finished in third place with 74 points, behind the University of Southern Maine with 33 points, and Husson with 63 points. Justin Castaldo finished the race with a time of 31:03.57, securing 10th place. Teammates Covy Dufort and Jimmy Reel finished in 13th and 14th place, with times of 31:31.10 and 31:50.53, respectively.
The Beavers won the Husson Harrier Invitational, with five scoring runners in the top 13. Justin Castaldo was the first Beaver to cross the finish line, coming in sixth place with a time of 29:20.5, with teammate Covy Dufort crossing at 29:25.3, earning him seventh place. UMF scored 49 points to lead the event, with Husson finishing in second with 53 points, followed by Colby College with 63 points, Maine Maritime with 66 points, and Thomas College with 103 points.
The UMF Golf Team has participated in five matches so far. In a dual match against Thomas, UMF lost 340 to 325. Neil Larochelle III scored a 78 on the par 70 Waterville course, while teammates Kellen True and Ryan Sargent both scored 86. The team placed fourth at the Thomas College Invitational, with Larochelle III scoring a 70 on the same Waterville course. Chris Frey scored an 81, which earned him an 11th place tie. At the UMF Invitational, the Beavers placed sixth with a total of 337 points. Larochelle III finished with 79, while teammates Daniel Mickiewicz completed with a score of 85 and Jack Burton scored an 86. At the University of Southern Maine Cup, the Beavers placed third with a score of 231. The golfers played in pairs, with Mickiewicz/True tying for third with 73, Larochelle/Sargent finishing with 74, and Burton/Frey earning 10th with an 84. At the Bowdoin Invitational, the team ended in 15th place. Sargent scored an 83, while True and Larochelle both scored an 85.