Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Sunday, October 19, 2003
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take two
more from the weekend
this week: women’s soccer, football, cross country and men’s soccer
Football: McCall, Shay Named Players of the Week

Daniel McCall
Kodi Shay
McCall
Shay
The Muhlenberg College football team has three straight wins and three straight weeks with a member of the team named Centennial Conference player of the week. This week Mules earned recognition on both sides of the ball for their 27-7 win at Ursinus. Sophomore end Daniel McCall was named defensive player of the week and senior receiver Kodi Shay received offensive player of the week honors for the second time this month.

McCall was all over the Ursinus quarterbacks the entire afternoon. He set a school record with four sacks, while also forcing a fumble that he recovered. McCall also added another tackle for loss and had three more quarterback hurries.

McCall now leads the Mules with seven sacks (one shy of the school season record) and 10 tackles for loss.

“I have a speed advantage over most linemen because I am smaller than them,” McCall said. “I try to beat them off the line, and when I can do that, I can get to the quarterback.”

Shay put up 250 all-purpose yards for the third straight week. He amassed a career-high 191 yards on seven receptions, including two touchdowns. He also returned two punts and a kickoff for 53 yards and rushed once for six yards.

Shay made plays Saturday with his usual flare. He outjumped two defenders for his first touchdown catch and outran three for his second. He also set up the Mules other scores with receptions of 34 and 41 yards. On his kickoff return, Shay ran almost all the way across the field to his left before cutting back to his right for a 23-yard return.

Saturday’s game also featured a pair of strange Muhlenberg touchdowns. The first was a pass by running back Mike Mrkobrad to put the Mules ahead in the third quarter. Mrkobrad took a handoff and started to run up the middle. Before reaching the line of scrimmage, he jumped straight up and threw a two-handed chest pass over the linemen, to tight end Rob Sherman in the end zone.

“We practiced it maybe twice this week,” Mrkobrad said. “It’s on the goal line, so they were expecting a run and I threw it right over the top.”

Senior linebacker Tony Briscella was as surprised as anyone when he caught a pass for the Mules’ next touchdown.

“After I got that one carry [for a loss against McDaniel], I thought I’d never get the ball again,” said Briscella.

In other Centennial Conference action, Johns Hopkins defeated Gettysburg, 27-7, in a Friday night game in Baltimore. McDaniel won, 34-13, at Dickinson and Franklin & Marshall dropped a 28-20 game at Hobart on Saturday.

• Cross Country: After improving its standing at the Centennial Conference Championships every year from 1999 to 2001 (eighth to seventh to sixth), the Muhlenberg women’s cross country team slipped to eighth last year.

Now the Mules may be headed for a comeback, thanks to an individual comeback.

Junior Jenna Belisonzi, who missed the entire 2002 season due to injury, is back and running better than ever. She has been Muhlenberg’s top finisher at each of its last two meets, placing eighth out of 221 runners at Saturday’s DeSales Invitational. The last Mule to cross the line in the top 10 at DeSales was Amanda Wachter, who was eighth in 1993.

“It was really hard to hear the news that I had to get surgery last year,” said Belisonzi. “It made me that much more motivated to run well this year and next year. I’m just trying to take it one meet at a time and see how well I do.”

Taking it one meet at a time, the next test for Belisonzi and the Mules will be the CC Championships, also at DeSales, on Saturday, Nov. 1. Muhlenberg was ninth (fifth among Division III schools) out of 31 schools at the DeSales Invitational – another strong showing in what has already been a good season.

“Our team has a really good dynamic,” Belisonzi noted. “We’re good at running as a team and pulling each other along.

“I think we’re surprising ourselves by running so well,” she added. “As the bigger meets come along, we’re proving it to ourselves that we can do it.”

WOMEN’S SOCCER

On a weekend in which Muhlenberg celebrates the inauguration of its 11th president, Peyton Randolph Helm, the Mule women’s soccer team is celebrating its inaugural day on top of the Centennial Conference standings.

Muhlenberg, which has won the last three CC regular-season titles, spun its wheels out of the
Maureen McLaughlin
Heads-up play by the back three of Amari, Maureen McLaughlin (above) and Katrina Custance has the Mules allowing only two goals in their last 610 minutes.
2003 starting gate, dropping its league opener at McDaniel, 2-1, back on Sept. 20.

“That was just a horrible game,” said sophomore back Katie Amari.

Since then, the Mules have reeled off six straight wins, including Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Gettysburg, which entered the game 6-0 in the CC. The two teams are now tied for first, but Muhlenberg is in the driver’s seat with its head-to-head win.

“We’re playing better together,” noted Amari in explaining the turnaround. “We have some players in different positions, the freshmen are more used to the system, and people are in better shape, too.”

Amari is one of those players in a different position, having moved from midfield to earn the starting job at left back. She got involved in the offense against Gettysburg, assisting on the first goal and taking the corner kick that led to the Mules’ second goal.

The game was not without its anxious moments in the second half, as the Bullets applied considerable pressure, outshooting Muhlenberg 7-1 and cutting the margin in half with more than 20 minutes to play. Gettysburg took five more shots the rest of the way, but only one was on goal and it was saved.

“That second half was a little sloppy, but we pulled it out,” conceded Amari. “We had it in our minds that we were up two goals and had to defend, but we need to keep attacking to keep our edge.”

The Mules always seem to have an edge as the season winds down: Since 1997, they have an incredible record of 55-7-1 (.881) in the months of October and November.

• Men’s Soccer: It’s been proven time and time again that winning on the road is the key to conference success, and Saturday in the Centennial Conference drove that point home again.

The top three teams in the CC traveled to face teams with .500-or-below CC records, and two of them returned home with stunning 1-0 losses: Johns Hopkins fell at Swarthmore (2-3 coming in) and Gettysburg lost at Washington (2-2-1).

Only Muhlenberg escaped the road trap, breezing past Dickinson (2-3) by a 4-0 score to take a two-game lead in the CC with three to play. Remaining on the Muhlenberg schedule are road games at Gettysburg and Haverford and a home match against Ursinus to close out the regular season.

While shutting out Dickinson for the 14th time in the last 17 years, the Mules also reached the three-goal mark for the eighth time this season. Muhlenberg has scored 37 goals in 15 matches this year and is on pace to have its biggest offensive season since the 1997 team – the last Mule squad to win the CC championship – scored 53 goals.


Questions or comments? Send mail to falk@muhlenberg.edu
Last updated October 19, 2003