A Fall Without Sports: A Flashback and Look Ahead for CCSU Sports

Central+Connecticut+football+team+breaking+down+the+huddle+against+Fordham+University.+

Julia Jade Moran

Central Connecticut football team breaking down the huddle against Fordham University.

Ryan Jones, Managing Editor

Last fall, Central Connecticut hoisted up three Northeast Conference Championship trophies. This year, there won’t be a championship to play for.

The fall sports season was postponed across the entire NEC on July 9. This sweeping announcement affected six CCSU teams: football, volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s cross country.¬†Following up three NEC Championships in one season is a tall task, but CCSU had a good chance at doing so, if not securing more.

FOOTBALL

Blue Devil football had a historic year last fall as Coach Ryan McCarthy led CCSU to a 7-0 record in the conference. While dominant on both ends of the field, the offense stole the show in New Britain as CCSU marched through every defense they faced. They ended the season leading the NEC in scoring (79 touchdowns for an average of 29.2 points per game).

While the offense shredded, McCarthy’s defense drew many wide eyes and bad throws from opposing NEC QB’s. CCSU allowed a NEC best 18.2 points per game while also leading the conference in sacks (49) and interceptions (25).

The team did lose the man at the helm of the offense, QB Aaron Winchester, but it looked like the Blue Devils would not miss a beat thanks to the help of some returning stars.

CCSU was picked as pre-season favorites to repeat as champions while seven Blue Devils earned preseason All-NEC honors (three on offense, four on defense).

WOMEN’S SOCCER

The dynasty that is CCSU women’s soccer not only won a NEC Championship last season (head coach Mick D’Arcy’s 8th title with the team) but went on to win a match in the NCAA Tournament.

After a loss in their second conference game of the season, the Blue Devils went on a tear of the NEC, finishing with a 9-1-1 record as opposing teams were dialing the same number after some crushing defeats. CCSU went on to knock off fourth seeded Rutgers in the NCAA Tournament, then was narrowly edged out by West Virginia in the round after.

CCSU Soccer was slated to return some big pieces of its lineup from the championship team last season. D’Arcy’s system is very keen on being able to plug in players as needed, but the return of players like (All-American) Roma McLaughlin and Tess Atkinson was no doubt a scary thought for opposing NEC teams.

VOLLEYBALL

CCSU volleyball and the playoffs are as natural a pair as bread and butter. In head coach Linda Sagnelli’s 21 years at the helm, the Blue Devils have made the postseason tournament 15 times. Last season was no different, this season looked to be more of the same.

After making the NEC Tournament, the Blue Devils had a goliath to face in first seeded Robert Morris. The Blue Devils took the match in five sets and were defeated in the Championship.

While the volleyball-guru Sagnelli has plugged in player after player into the team’s system to positive results, the loss of Madelyn Kaprelyan to graduation will be a tough one to fill. Kaprelyan became the first player in the team’s history to be named NEC Player of the Year.

The proven talent and younger players on CCSU Volleyball make for a very talented and deep team. The team returns Ashlyn Eisenga, the reigning NEC Defensive Player of the Year and Emma Henderson, who put on 24 kills and 25 digs in the aforementioned NEC Semifinals against Robert Morris.

CROSS COUNTRY

Angie Rafter and Megan Brawner took turns breaking school records last fall for women’s cross country. Rafter finished first overall in the NEC Championship race, which the women’s team won on their home turf of Stanley Quarter Park.

While it was the women’s side that took home the mantlepiece, men’s cross country was not far behind them, finishing second in said NEC Championship.

Apart from the strong running from Rafter and Brawner, the Blue Devils also have some exciting second year runners. Brooke Morabito was named NEC Rookie of the Year last season while fellow freshmen Ashley Dana impressed in her rookie campaign as well.

Men’s runner Elias Field also looked ready to improve upon a strong freshmen campaign. Field was crowned NEC Rookie of the Year and was never far behind his more seasoned teammates at the end of each race.

MEN’S SOCCER

Everything did not go as planned last season for men’s soccer, but there is always something to be said about ending strong.

In the Blue Devils final game of last season, senior Eddie Yepes netted two against Sacred Heart to secure CCSU’s sole win on the year. Replacing Yepes, an All-Northeast Conference selection and team’s leading scorer, will be a tall task.

Former assistant coach David Kelly has been the team’s interim head coach since Shaun Green retired from the program in January.

A World War and a pandemic are the only two things to ever stop a CCSU sports season. While there won’t be goals scored, touchdowns celebrated or finish lines crossed, the culture of CCSU athletics remains the same: New Britain,the hardware city.