WALTHAM, Mass. – For the first time in recent memory, the Brandeis fall teams are all off to such fast starts that each has earned a ranking among the top 10 teams in New England. The Judges' men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer and women's volleyball team are all among the elite in the region.
Leading the way for the Judges this season is the men's cross country team. Head coach John Evans's squad has been the top-ranked team in New England ever since the first United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) poll of the preseason. The team is currently ranked ninth in the nation in Division III by the USTFCCCA coming off the heels of a third-place finish at the UMass Dartmouth Shriners Invitational on Sept. 18. Despite running without 2009 All-America senior Paul Norton of Amherst, Mass., Brandeis finished just six points behind Keene State College and three behind MIT. Junior Marc Boutin of Westford, Mass., finished sixth in the race and earned University Athletic Association (UAA) Player of the Week honors for his effort. The rest of the team's five scorers were among the top 35, the only team at the meet to achieve that feat.
Meanwhile, the Brandeis women's cross country team is also nationally-ranked. Despite sliding from fourth to sixth in New England in a week in which many competitors were unable to compete, the Judges maintained a national ranking at 24th. With only one other teammate at the UMass Dartmouth varsity race, junior Kate Warwick of Boxborough, Mass., turned in her best collegiate performance, finishing third in a field of 290 competitors with a time of 17:57 over the 5K course, just a handful of seconds out of first.
The Brandeis cross country teams are next in action on Oct. 9 at the Open New England championships at Franklin Park in Boston, competing against the top Division I, II and III programs in the region. The Judges will also face a stiff test at the UAA Championships on Oct. 30, where seven of the eight men's squads are nationally ranked, including four of the top 11 teams, and five of the eight women's squads are among the top 35.
On the soccer pitch, the Brandeis teams are both off to fantastic starts. Coach Denise Dallamora's women are 4-1-1 and ranked fourth in New England by the College Soccer Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), while Mike Coven's men are 6-1 and ranked eighth after getting off to the program's best start since 1985.
After a 2-1 loss at MIT to start the season, the Brandeis women are unbeaten in their last five contests, earning them votes in the most recent CSCAA national poll. The team is led by senior forward and co-captain Tiffany Pacheco of Rehoboth, Mass., who had two goals and three assists last week as the Judges defeated Bridgewater State, 2-1, on Sept. 14 and Roger Williams, 6-0, on Sept. 16. Pacheco tallied the game-winning goal in the 55th minute against BSU, while registering career-highs of three assists and five points against RWU. With her three assists against the Hawks, Pacheco moved into a tie for second on the Judges' career list with 23, five behind former teammate Melissa Gorenkoff '09. Pacheco also vaulted into eighth on Brandeis's career points list with 71, moving her one point behind Gorenkoff and putting her well within reach of the top five. Pacheco's 24 goals are 10th in school history. The Judges have also boasted a fine defense, led by senior co-captain Taryn Martiniello of Wilmington, Mass., which has allowed just four goals all season, tied for fewest in the UAA. The Brandeis women play host to Gordon College today at 4 p.m. and open UAA action on Oct. 2 against Case Western Reserve University at 11 a.m.
On the men's side, the Judges got off to their best start since 1985 by winning their first six contests, outscoring their opponents by a 30-1 over that span. The Judges have showed a balanced offense so far this season with 12 different goal scorers and five different players tied with four goals apiece. Prior their 2-1 loss to MIT on Sept. 22, the Judges won twice the previous week, a 4-1 win at WPI and a 13-0 rout of Newbury College, the largest margin of victory in program history. Senior midfielder Stephen Kostel of New Hyde Park, N.Y., earned UAA Player of the Week honors for his performance last week, dishing three assists in the win at WPI and scoring his first collegiate goal against Newbury. Also in the Nighthawks contest, junior forward Alexander Farr of Nahant, Mass., came off the bench to score three goals in four minutes and 13 seconds, the sixth-fastest hat trick in NCAA Division III history. The Brandeis men renew their longest rivalry this weekend when they travel to Babson on Sept. 25 at 2:30 p.m. before their UAA opener on Oct. 2 at 1:30 p.m. against Case.
Rounding out the ranked fall teams is the volleyball squad. Ranked sixth in New England by the New England Women's Volleyball Association, the Judges are off to an 8-3 start, with two of their losses coming at the hands of top-three teams. Coach Michelle Kim's squad captured the 2010 Brandeis Invitational tournament, including a 3-0 win over seventh-ranked Trinity College. The Judges have also posted a pair of come-from-behind 3-2 wins over Wellesley and Endicott colleges in matches in which they lost the first two sets. Twin sisters Abby and Paige Blasco of Greeley, Colo., both seniors, have been the team's top performers this season. Abby, who has split time at setter and libero, was named to the Brandeis Invitational All-Tournament team, while Paige, an outside hitter, is currently ranked sixth in the UAA in kills per set, averaging 3.16 and was named to the Springfield College Invitational All-Tourney team. The Judges are at Amherst College this weekend for a tournament, including matches against the ninth-ranked Lord Jeffs and 11th-ranked Coast Guard Academy. On Oct. 16 and 17, the Judges will host a UAA Round Robin that will feature three nationally-ranked squads, including top-ranked and defending national champions, Washington University.
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