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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

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Men’s soccer receives national recognition

Championship Preview

The Muhlenberg volleyball team may be facing the Garnet on Wednesday night, but the only color on the Mules’ minds right now is red.

As in, they enter the first round of the Centennial Conference playoffs red hot, having gone 7-3 over their last 10 matches after beginning the season 4-9.

“Those rough points early in the season helped us later in the season,” said sophomore Jackie Price. “We’ve come really far, grown as a team and now we’re all very comfortable and trust each other on the court.”

Jennifer Seeba
Freshman Jennifer Seeba is a major reason why the Mules are in the playoffs for the first time since 2001. She leads the CC in blocks in conference play and is fourth in hitting percentage.
That trust has enabled Muhlenberg (11-12, 6-4) to reach the CC playoffs for just the second time since the tournament began in 1997. The Mules hosted in their only other appearance, in 2001, and advanced to the finals before falling to Gettysburg.

Though the top three seeds – host and three-time defending champion Haverford (28-3, 10-0), Franklin & Marshall (23-5, 9-1) and Gettysburg (18-8, 7-3) – represent the only teams to have won the CC tournament, Muhlenberg’s first-round opponent, Swarthmore (18-9, 6-4), has also reached the playoffs just once before, in 2005.

“We like being the underdog because you’re there to prove yourself.” said Price. “But every team is beatable. We know their strengths and weaknesses, and with where we are now we can get the job done.”

If they are to prove themselves, the Mules will have to start by atoning for a close 3-1 home loss to the Garnet three weeks ago. Muhlenberg lost the first set of that contest by just two points and the fifth by three.

The Swarthmore win came during its own hot stretch, in which it went 8-1 before dropping its final three contests – all against the three other playoff participants.

“We’re excited to play them again,” said Price. “We saw them at their best, but we weren’t at our best. With the way we’ve been playing lately, it’s going to be an exciting match.”

The recent series between the two schools has been as even as it gets, as they have split the last 10 meetings (eight in CC play, two in Moravian’s tournament) since 2002. The good news for Muhlenberg is that the road team has won the last three contests – all in four sets.

If that holds true, the Mules would take on regular season champion Haverford, which enters the playoffs ranked No. 25 in Division III, in the semifinals. The Fords have already beaten Muhlenberg twice this year, including a 3-1 defeat in the final of the Buttermaker Tournament after the Mules took the first set.

But Muhlenberg is less interested in avenging those two losses and pulling off a monumental upset than it is in continuing to grow as a team and stay red hot.

“We’re just focusing on playing as a team and coming together for one big goal, which is to win the tournament,” said Price. “We’re excited to see how everything comes together.”
Click here for the championship Web site.

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