The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Fall 2022 sports preview

<p>The E. Claiborne Robins Stadium at the University of Richmond.</p>

The E. Claiborne Robins Stadium at the University of Richmond.

Football

The preseason votes came rolling in and ranked the University of Richmond 24th in the nation, according to the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 poll. UR is one of four Colonial Athletic Association teams listed on the poll, with Villanova University at #6, the University of Delaware at #19 and the University of Rhode Island at #22. 

The Spiders ended their 2021 fall season with an overall 6-5 record. Their first two games were wins against Howard University and Lehigh University, but the hype was short-lived as UR went on to lose five games. The Spiders rounded out their last four games with four straight wins and ended fourth on the conference ladder. 

The question is, what is to come of the Spiders this 2022 season?

The RichmondSpiders YouTube page features a series of videos labeled “Spider Transfer Tracker,” highlighting players that have transferred to UR for football. 

Players highlighted include Matei Fitz, Nick DeGennaro, Derek Ferraro and Jakob Herres. So, who are these boys that bear the Spider logo?

Fitz is a redshirt first-year transferring from James Madison University and will be bearing the number 94 and positioned as a defensive lineman. 

DeGennaro is coming in as a redshirt sophomore and will be positioned as a wide receiver wearing the number 11. He transferred from the University of Maryland, where he played two seasons and appeared in four games as a first-year in 2020 and three games as a sophomore in 2021. 

Ferraro is a redshirt junior representing the number 77 and will be an offensive lineman. Before transferring to UR, Ferraro was a 4-year member of the Rice University Owls and represented the Owls in eight games throughout his career. 

Herres is a UR graduate student and transferred from Virginia Military Institute where he represented the Keydets in 37 games and was a First Team All-American selection. 

“I do believe I pose a big threat on the football field,” Herres said. “However, I think my teammates are the ones that are the biggest threats.”

During his time at VMI, he caught 226 passes for 3,006 yards and completed 26 touchdowns. At the end of his Keydet career, Herres walked away as VMI’s all-time receiving touchdown leader. 

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“I think the fans will be pleased to see a different [University of Richmond] team, a very up-tempo offense with a great defense,” Herres said. “It’s going to be a fun and special year and we can’t wait to show [the fans] our hard work.”

Redshirt junior linebacker Tristan Wheeler will be hitting the turf again as the team’s captain. 

“As for being named captain, it does make this season a little more personal,” Wheeler said. “If we do well as a team, the team earned it, but if we do bad as a team then I’m going to look at myself and the captains and ask what more could we have done.”

Wheeler is on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List and led the team and CAA in total tackles of 114 during the last regular season

“Iron sharpens iron” is how he described both offense and defense working together to prepare one another for the type of competition the Spiders will see on the field. As for special teams, he highlighted the fact that special teams “will be a difference-maker in a handful of games this season.”

Also in the spotlight are Herres and graduate quarterback Reece Udinski who both have been listed on the Walter Payton Award Watch List.

The Spiders’ first game is against the University of Virginia Cavaliers. It will take place in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sept. 3 at 12:30 p.m.

“One thing the fans and students need to know is that they are an important part to our success,” Wheeler said. “We [the team] appreciate you all.”

Soccer

On Aug. 3, women’s soccer posted its day-one practice pictures, filled with Spider smiles and fresh, fierce faces. 

Among those fresh faces are seven first-year students including goalkeepers Ana Sadler and Sydney Moore, forwards Payton Uhrig and Marisa Snee, defender Christina Golden and midfielders Kiley Fitzgerald and Emma Shields. 

The 28 total Spiders in red and white create a tough web that awaits their prey each game with a team bond that grows stronger each day.

“Our strong team chemistry and communication have been key factors in [our] growth,” Fitzgerald said. “No matter what position or year each of us are in, we all work so well together on and off of the field, everyone pushes each other every day at practice and strives to help our team become the best it can be.”

In an exercise called REAL Colors Meeting, which was held the first week of the preseason, the team was separated and grouped into color categories that best fit themselves and helped the team learn more about one another’s personalities. 

“It was so cool to see who on the team was similar and different,” Fitzgerald said. “The information we learned has helped us to better communicate on and off the field.”

Along with the first-years, the Spiders have forward graduate student Katie Tritt returning this season to the turf after suffering an injury preventing her from playing in the fall 2021 season. 

“My injury, recovery process and return-to-play process affected me in more ways than I could have imagined, which I am grateful for,” Tritt said. 

In the 2021 spring season as a senior, Tritt started in all five games she played. During those five games, she secured one goal and six shots, five of which were on net. In the game against George Mason University, Tritt scored the goal that tied the game. 

Tritt spoke about how grateful she was to still be at UR while pursuing her master's degree in Nonprofit Studies. During her recovery process, she has “learned more about myself, who I am, what I want to be, what I don’t want to be…how to be a better player, leader, teammate, daughter and sister,” she wrote in an email to The Collegian. 

Tritt also thanked her family, friends, loved ones and her closest friend and mentor, Assistant Athletic Trainer Jasmine Pinder who she said have all helped her through everything she has been through. 

“I am fully cleared [to play] and 100% back in action,” Tritt said. “This year will be my best and last season at the University of Richmond!”

On Aug. 11, the Atlantic 10 Conference announced the preseason rankings for women’s soccer, where the Spiders were picked to finish eighth with 109 points, just a few behind 116 points for Saint Joseph's University. This ranking is the highest the Spiders have seen since 2017 when they were also chosen to finish eighth. 

The Spiders finished their last season with an overall 7-10-1 record and a 5-5 conference record. They started with a rough two-loss lead but came back for a win over Longwood University. The remainder of the season was rocky with back-and-forth wins and losses, but they stuck it out to make it to the Atlantic 10 championship, where they battled the #2 ranked Dayton University to a 1-3 loss. 

Since the beginning of the season, which kicked off Aug. 18 against Longwood where the Spiders lost 0-1, they bounced back to tie the game 1-1 against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and won their game 1-0 against the University of Delaware on Aug. 28. 

UR will play again on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. against Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina. 

Field Hockey

After a disappointing 5-14 last season, the UR field hockey team is ready to bounce back in this coming 2022 season.

The five-win season came in the team’s first full season since the pandemic. They also faced a slew of tough non-conference opponents such as Rutgers University, Duke University and Boston College, all being ranked in the top 25 when the Spiders played them.

This year, the Spiders will receive leeway against non-conference opponents, but only a little, as the team is set to face Northwestern, which is currently ranked second on the NCAA’s Field Hockey Rankings Power Index.

Six seniors lead the team: goalkeeper Erika Latta, defender Sutton Orndorff, midfielders Lindsey Frank, Tess Keppel, Regan McCrossan and forward Evie Hanson.

The team lost its first game against James Madison but managed to get a 4-2 win against Longwood. Their next game will be Sept. 2 against William and Mary.

Cross Country

Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams are preparing for a 2022 season, which could feature a total of up to eight races.

After kicking off its season on Sept. 3 with the Spider Alumni Open at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Virginia, the Spiders will have a race at Navy and Lehigh before entering the championship.

The first of these will be the IC4A/ECAC Championship in New York City, which will then be followed by the Atlantic 10 Championship, a race the men won two seasons ago.

After this, the NCAA Southeast Regional Championship will take place, and if the Spiders finish in the top two, they will qualify for the NCAA Championship. The season will be rounded out by the USATF National Cross Country Championship.

The men’s team is led by five seniors, Tanner Crochet, Riley Fletcher, Robert Gunia, Evan Leach, Jake Schindel and five redshirt seniors, Peter Borger, Noah Campbell, Sean Doolan, Jimmy Quinn and Patrick Sutphin.

Borger finished first in last year’s men’s A10 Championship, while junior Stuart Terrill finished third.

The women’s team is led by nine seniors: Gabrielle Beneducci, Morgan Crocker, Anna George, Kyra Keurentjes, Kate McAndrew, Kayla O’Connell, Maddie Orr, Kamryn Ross and Lily Snow.

It is also worth noting that junior Elizabeth Stockman finished eighth in the 2021 women’s A10 Championship.

Contact sports co-editors Andrew Cardounel at andrew.cardounel@richmond.edu and Krystian Hajduczka at krystian.hakduczka@richmone.edu

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