Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Sunday, October 26, 2003
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this week: volleyball, football and soccer
Bernardo Named Player of the Week

Matt Bernardo is back.

The preseason All-America running back, who had been out since
Matt Bernardo
Bernardo moved into 14th place in Division III history with 372 points scored.
a second-quarter shoulder injury against Franklin & Marshall, earned Centennial Conference offensive player of the week honors in his first game back. Bernardo ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns as the Mules ended No. 13 Johns Hopkins’ 11-game winning streak, 14-6, on Saturday.

After practicing this week, Bernardo knew he would be ready for the Mules’ biggest game of the season, a win that puts them in position for a possible second straight trip to the NCAA playoffs.

“I’ve been running and working out, but I haven’t really played for two weeks,” Bernardo said. “My legs felt as fresh as they’ve been since the beginning of the year.”

The first touchdown, a 47-yard scamper in the first quarter, gave Bernardo sole possession of the CC record for career touchdowns. He has now found the end zone 62 times.

“It feels great,” Bernardo said. “I was telling the guys all week that I could break a long one.”

The offensive line helped Bernardo by making some big holes after concentrating on good footwork in practice all week.

“We knew we were bigger than them and had to make the right steps to get our blocks,” said senior Frank Santini.

Bernardo’s selection completed an October sweep of conference offensive player of the week recognition for the Mules. Senior receiver Kodi Shay earned player of the week honors twice and sophomore quarterback Tom Kelleher once.

Of course, 14 points against one of the nation’s best defenses is not usually enough to beat Hopkins, which also boasts the conference’s top offense. A superb performance by the Muhlenberg defense made sure two touchdowns would be enough. The Mules held the Blue Jays scoreless for more than three quarters and held the No. 2 ground attack in the CC to fewer yards (46) than Bernardo gained on his first scoring run alone.

“We knew coming in that their defense was tough,” said senior end Nick Otranto, who had 2½ sacks. “We knew it was going to be on our defense to win it.”

Senior linebacker Tony Briscella earned a spot on the CC Weekly Honor Roll for his 11 tackles and three quarterback hurries.

In other CC action, Gettysburg beat Ursinus, 14-3, and Franklin & Marshall edged Dickinson in overtime, 20-14, for its first conference win. McDaniel lost a non-conference affair to Brockport State, 27-16.

The Mules are now one of four teams (along with Gettysburg, Johns Hopkins and McDaniel) with only one loss in CC play. However, Muhlenberg is in the driver’s seat with only one league game left, next week at Gettysburg. Hopkins and McDaniel each have two conference games remaining and Gettysburg has three.

The Mules can clinch a share of their third straight conference championship with a win next week. If the Mules beat the Bullets and Hopkins defeats McDaniel in the season’s final week, Muhlenberg will once again represent the CC in the NCAA Tournament.

VOLLEYBALL

The members of the Muhlenberg volleyball team probably wish they could have turned their clocks back more than an hour this morning – maybe all the way back to August 30, when they played their first five-game match of the season.

The Mules lost that contest (against DeSales) and four more matches that went the
Monica Sella
Freshman Monica Sella led the Mules with seven blocks against F&M and has a team-leading 72 for the season.
distance before finally winning one against Franklin & Marshall on Saturday.

Some of the previous five-game matches had been particularly excruciating, including one against McDaniel in which all three losses were by two points and one against Dickinson in which Muhlenberg squandered a 2-0 lead.

So when the Diplomats, who previously had lost only one Centennial Conference match, erased a two-game Mule lead by winning the third and fourth games and bolted out to a 6-0 lead in the fifth, it was understandable that the Mules started thinking, “here we go again.”

“That definitely rolled through everyone’s mind,” admitted sophomore setter Mary Henning, who recorded 27 assists in the match. “But we called timeout and talked about how we worked so hard to get to this point and how we weren’t going to let it happen again.”

Muhlenberg crept back through its strong serving, which made things easier on the defense – a defense that totaled 101 digs in the match, including 34 by Jen Weist and 31 by Julie Lauro. The Mules won the fifth game, 15-12, then went on to complete the CC sweep by defeating Washington in three games.

And even though the two wins came too late to get Muhlenberg into the CC playoff race (the four spots already have been secured), the F&M match may have benefits that linger well past the last week of the regular season for a team that consists of four sophomores and six freshmen.

“We got a lot of confidence [from defeating F&M] – something we hadn’t had because our team is so young,” said Henning. “It’s really important to end on a good note. We can take some of this into next year.”

• Soccer:Both Muhlenberg soccer teams stayed hot on Saturday, the women winning their eighth in a row and the men remaining undefeated in the Centennial Conference.

With a combined record of 15-1, the Mule teams have a chance to tie the CC record of 18 soccer wins in a season. Gettysburg’s women’s and men’s teams combined for an 18-0-1 CC record in 1999.

The record comes with an asterisk, however, as the Bullet teams were a perfect 17-0 in 1993, before Ursinus and Washington fielded varsity women’s teams.

Muhlenberg’s men have a road game against Haverford on Tuesday, and both teams host Ursinus on Saturday in their regular-season finales.


Questions or comments? Send mail to falk@muhlenberg.edu
Last updated October 26, 2003