Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Friday, November 21, 2003
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Men’s Streak of Title Games Ends
Muhlenberg at Christopher Newport

The Muhlenberg football team should be ready for Christopher Newport when the two teams take the field Saturday at 12:00 at POMOCO Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The game will be broadcast live on WMUH 91.7 FM and on the web, beginning with the Mules Kickoff pregame show at 11:00.

The Mules spent two weeks earlier this season preparing for the Captains. A bye the week before the schools’ scheduled Sept. 20 meeting enabled Muhlenberg to devote an extra week of practice to preparing for Christopher Newport.

That game was cancelled due to damage from Hurricane Isabel, but after all the preparation, the Mules know what they are up against.

“They’re a good team,” said All-Centennial Conference linebacker Dan Walker, Muhlenberg’s second-leading tackler. “They play in a solid conference, and they beat McDaniel.”

The Captains knocked off McDaniel, 7-6, Sept. 13. The Mules played the Green Terror two weeks later, dominating much of the game, but had trouble scoring in a 22-9 loss. Muhlenberg and CNU have more than an opponent in common.

Each team is 7-2 and finished 5-1 in its conference for its third straight league co-championship. Muhlenberg has won seven straight games, while the Captains’ loss at Ferrum last week ended their winning streak at seven.

Both defenses are among the best in the country at stopping the run and the pass. In total defense, CNU ranks fourth in Division III (210.6 yards per game) and Muhlenberg 20th (261.2). The Captains are eighth in scoring defense (9.8 points per game) and the Mules 14th (12.6). Muhlenberg has been even better in its last six games, allowing just 239.5 yards and 8.2 points per contest.

“They’re kind of similar to us,” Walker said. “They’re a little undersized, but I know they’re very aggressive. They fly to the ball, and that’s what we try to do.”

The offenses have nearly identical total yardage numbers for the season. Both teams can move the ball by running or passing, but the Mules tend air it out more often than the Captains.

Muhlenberg, with CC offensive player of the year Kodi Shay averaging nearly 20 yards per catch, looks for big plays with its passing attack. Christopher Newport relies on shorter, high percentage passes. Quarterback Phillip Jones has completed 61.6 percent of his throws.

The Captains prefer to run the ball with backs Mario Marin and Thomas Thornton. The Mules also have a solid rushing attack, relying on the services of three-time All-CC first-team selection Matt Bernardo and four all-conference blockers.

“They’re pretty huge up front,” said Walker. “They’re just going to try and pound you. We’ll have to beat them with speed and do our assignments.”

The Mules’ biggest edge might be in special teams. They have blocked 11 kicks, four by Michael Della Pella alone, and the Captains have had three field goal attempts blocked.

Muhlenberg leads the CC in kickoff coverage, punt returns and punt coverage and is second in kickoff returns. Over the last two years, the Mules have not allowed a punt return of more than 15 yards, and opponents are averaging 5.8 yards per punt return. Christopher Newport’s Jovonn Quillen, who averages 13.2 yards per punt return, will put the Mules. coverage to the test.

While the teams look similar on paper, Muhlenberg will try to distinguish itself on the field and stay alive to face Bridgewater or Waynesburg.

Women to Face Kean for Championship

The Muhlenberg women’s basketball advanced to the championship game of the Scotty Wood Tournament with a 101-78 victory over Mary Washington. The men, however, were defeated by Roger Williams in their first-round game, 66-64, ending a streak of 20 straight years making the title game.

The Mules men will face Elms in the consolation game on Saturday at 3:00, followed by the women in the championship game against Kean.

Women’s Basketball: Senior Susan Marchiano led five players in double figures with 17 points in only 13 minutes of action as Muhlenberg’s opened the season in record fashion.

The Mules set a school record with 64 points in the first half and 11 three-pointers in the game. They just missed the record of 103 points in a game, set against Centenary eight years ago.

Muhlenberg forced 38 turnovers and hoisted up 90 shots. All but two of the players on the team scored points, and none played more than 14 minutes.

The Mules led only 26-23 with 8:23 left in the first half before going on a 19-2 run over the next three minutes to open up a 20-point margin. Muhlenberg hit three three-pointers in the surge, including back-to-back treys by junior Gwen Doyle and a triple by sophomore Kristen Piscadlo, who finished with a career-high 13 points.

Click here for box score.

In the first game, Kean never trailed, although Gwynedd-Mercy cut a 14-point second-half deficit to two before falling, 60-58.

Men’s Basketball: Muhlenberg tried to play catch-up the entire second half, but could never quite get even and dropped its season-opener for the first time since 1982.

The game was tied at 34 three minutes into the second half, and although Roger Williams led the rest of the way, the margin was no greater than five points until the final 3:30.

With the Hawks opening up an eight-point lead at the two-minute mark, the Mules mounted one last push. They scored six points in 40 seconds, closing to within two points on a three-pointer by junior Ryan Bonda with 1:24 to play. Junior Chase Licata then drew an offensive foul, but Muhlenberg turned the ball over at the offensive end and never again has possession with a chance to tie.

The Mules had a spirited effort and solid play from several freshman. They played for stretches of the second half with four freshmen on the court.

The most impressive newcomer was Jeff Stewart, who had game highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds in his debut. His backup in the low post, freshman Steve Kopecki, had four points and six rebounds.

Sophomore Jimmy O’Brien recorded a career-high seven assists to go along with his career-high 14 points.

Click here for box score.

Moravian, which won the Scotty Wood Tournament in 2001, pulled away late in the first half and went on to defeat Elms, 77-62.

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Last updated November 21, 2003