Cronin, Football Team Headed to Postseason

Monday, November 18, 2013

Field hockey honor

Nicki Cronin One Muhlenberg individual and one team will get to extend their seasons by a week.

Senior cross country runner Nicki Cronin received a bid to the NCAA Championships, to be held this Saturday in Hanover, Ind.

Cronin finished 20th at the NCAA Mideast Regional on Saturday, earning all-region honors for the third straight season. Her candidacy for nationals hinged on whether or not Elizabethtown, the fifth-place team at the regional, received an at-large bid. After all the at-large bids are awarded, the top seven runners from non-qualifying teams are invited to participate as individuals in the national meet.

Elizabethtown did get a bid, making Cronin the sixth-highest finisher not from a qualifying team.

Kevin Van Laar
Kevin Van Laar, who rushed for a career-high 167 yards against Moravian, is one of 14 Mule seniors who will get to suit up one last time.
This is the ninth straight year that the Muhlenberg cross country program has sent at least one runner to the Division III meet. Cronin is the fourth member of the women’s team to earn a bid to nationals.

Although this will be Cronin’s first time at the NCAA Championships for cross country, she has national meet experience as part of the distance medley relay team that finished 10th at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in March.

Following an 8-2 regular season, the Muhlenberg football team received a bid to play in the ECAC Championships. The Mules will host Salisbury in the South Atlantic Bowl on Saturday, November 23, at 1:00.

The postseason bid is the 10th in the last 14 seasons for the Mules, who lost to Delaware Valley, 24-21, in the South Atlantic Bowl last year.

Muhlenberg enters the postseason with a six-game winning streak in which it is outscoring opponents by an average of 24.5 points. The Mules are undefeated (5-0) at home this season and are one of four Centennial Conference teams to earn postseason berths: Johns Hopkins is hosting an NCAA Tournament game, and Franklin & Marshall (Southeast) and Juniata (Southwest) will also play in ECAC bowls.

Salisbury (6-4) is making its 10th consecutive postseason appearance, the last three of which came in the NCAA Tournament. Although the Sea Gulls missed out on the NCAAs this year, they suffered two close losses (30-27 to Wesley on a last-second Hail Mary and 24-23 to Ithaca on a missed extra point in overtime) to teams that made the NCAA field. Salisbury lost back-to-back games in November before ending the regular season with a 70-14 win against Frostburg State.

The Sea Gulls feature an option attack that ranks eighth in Division III with 290.2 rushing yards per game. Muhlenberg allows only 117.9 yards per game on the ground and has given up just one rushing touchdown during its current winning streak.

The game is a rematch of one of the most significant wins in the Mules’ history. In 2007, with both teams ranked in the top 15 in Division III, Muhlenberg scored 10 fourth-quarter points off fumbles to defeat Salisbury, 31-21, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.