Welcome to The Doghouse, a weekly column recapping Union University sports action from the weekend.
This weekend, Union’s cross country, volleyball and soccer teams were all in action with the men’s and women’s cross country teams participating in the Memphis Twilight Classic, volleyball winning three of four at a tournament at Virginia State, women’s soccer playing No. 3 Columbus State, and men’s soccer hosting two Division II foes.
Saturday night, at the 14th Annual Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic, Union’s women cross country team took 10th out of 19 teams while Union’s men took 12th out of 18 teams.
“It’s kind of exciting because it’s our first chance back at competing, but also a little bit nerve-wracking,” said senior Janey Berends. “It’s a chance to see where we’re at, get a true feel of how we’re going to be starting the season, and just do our best. I was excited because I was ready to get my competitive juices flowing again – little bit of nerves but mostly excitement.”
UAB won the women’s division with a total time of 1:31:48, followed by Ole Miss, Middle Tennessee State, and Arkansas State. Union finished with a team time of 1:40:02.
Berends led the way for the Lady Bulldogs, finishing 32nd with a time of 19:22. Following her were Amy McKelvey in 44th, Rebecca Tankersley in 55th, Sarah Fickley in 83rd, Amanda Leatherwood in 84th, Brenda Jepkoech in 98th, Gabbie Stevens in 100th, and Jordan Meadors in 103rd.
Berends and others on the team were coming off minor aches and pains, and the team dealt with the headache of cancelled practices last week due to severe weather.
“Despite some setbacks, I was satisfied with my time,” said Berends. “Being the first race of the season, my stamina’s not where I want it to eventually be. I could eventually feel myself getting weaker toward the middle and end of the race, but I kept pushing through it, so I felt like my mental game was strong.”
In the men’s division, Middle Tennessee State won the classic with a total time of 1:40:34, followed by Ole Miss, UT Chattanooga, and Allen County Community College. Union finished with a team time of 1:50:50.
Forrest White and Justine Kipkoech led the way for the Bulldogs. White took 45th with a time of 21:41 and Kipkoech took 46th with a time of 21:42. Other Union finishers were Michael Drury at 65th, Joshua Whitney at 78th, Derrick Kipruto at 86th, Alex Russell at 87th, and Caleb Allen at 120th.
White and Russell are the Bulldogs’ lone returners.
“I’m really excited for the guys’ team this season,” Berends said. “Alex [Russell] and Forrest [White] are looking really strong. I think that they’re definitely going to improve on their times from last year. Then, we have a lot of new talent with the freshmen, so I think things are looking up for them. They get along really great, too – they’re good buddies.”
Adding six freshman in the offseason, five men and one woman, Union is expecting a bright future.
“We have really good team chemistry this year,” Berends said. “We just have some really good friendships starting… and we’ve all bonded really well. I think that helps us get pumped up a little more for our competition.”
While Union’s runners support each other, they are also motivated by fan attendance.
“When you are racing, it’s great to have somebody on the sideline who you know is rooting for you,” Berends said. “To the fans: thank you. There were a number of fans who came to support us at Memphis Twilight….We just really appreciated seeing some of our friends from Union and family there to support us.”
The Lady Bulldogs played in the Virginia State University Classic this weekend, going 3-1.
“We were really excited,” said sophomore Katie O’Malley. “I was excited to see how the team would react. I knew we were going to be good because we’ve been good in practice, but I was curious to see what it would look like with a different team on the other side of the net.”
Friday, they opened the tournament with a comeback win over Virginia State. After dropping the first two sets with scores of 16-25 and 21-25, Union fought back to win the remaining three sets 25-19, 25-13, and 25-23.
“We weren’t nervous and we weren’t timid,” said O’Malley.
In their second match, Union defeated Virginia Wise in straight sets with scores of 25-22, 25-14, and 25-19. Throughout the match, Union’s leaders were Bre Carlton with 15 assists, Ceciley Blanchard with eight kills, Kristen Goggin with seven aces, and Rebecca Sexton with six digs. Union also relied on the powerful hits of O’Malley, who had six kills and two aces.
O’Malley said that Union has been able to find success when they are “getting hype and excited.”
“Whenever somebody gets a kill, instead of just being like, ‘oh, good swing,’ we hype them up and we scream at the top of our lungs,” O’Malley said. “Cece [Blanchard]’s really the hype-man of the team, so she’ll turn around and she’ll scream ‘let’s go!’, and she’ll flex her arms. So, we all just jump and surround her and we just scream. We don’t scream anything. We just scream.”
Union’s third victory was over Alderson Broaddus on Saturday morning.
“Saturday morning started off with us just being very excited and acting like we were going to defeat everybody,” O’Malley said.
The Lady Bulldogs won in straight sets with scores of 25-11, 25-17, and 25-22. Union’s assist leaders were Carlton with 17 and Sexton with 15. In kills, O’Malley led with 10 while Christa Karns had eight and Blanchard had seven. Abbie Rahn led with 10 digs, while Karns had eight and Clare Taylor had seven. Lisa Hamilton led with four digs.
“Being focused and being extremely excited is what hypes our team up,” O’Malley said. “Even if we’re not making perfect passes but we’re really excited, we’re still going to have a better game.”
This marked the 100th career win for Head Coach Darrin McClure.
Union’s first loss of their 2017 campaign came against Seton Hill in straight sets with scores of 25-23, 25-12, and 25-19. Leading the way for Union, Taylor had nine kills, O’Malley had eight, and Karns had six. Carlton led with 16 assists, while Taylor Chiaro led with 16 digs.
“We didn’t have perfect digs or passes,” O’Malley said. “We weren’t as defeated or discouraged as you would think after our first loss because we did give it our all, it was just they were the better team. If we were to play them again in a couple weeks, I think we could do a better job. We just lacked focus that game.”
This season, the Lady Bulldogs aim to win the Gulf South Conference title, and they are relying on fan support to push them there.
“We don’t have a lot of home games this year, so it would be cool if people came to the few home games that we did have,” O’Malley said. “This season’s gonna be a good season. We gonna win. We gonna get that ring. I gotta get that ring.”
Saturday, the Lady Bulldogs fell 7-0 to Columbus State, the No. 3 team in the nation and the highest scoring team in 2016. The game was played at Bellarmine University.
The scoring began less than four minutes into the match, when Tehgan Anguilm assisted Olivia Jarrell in a tap-in goal. In the 16th minute, Kelly Hendricks shot and hit the post. Cassandra Wade got the rebound and directed it into the net. The third goal came when Kimmy May deflected the ball away from Union goalkeeper Kristen Francis, setting up Riley Clark for her first goal of the night.
Parker Morgan and Meghan Cottingham each scored within the first half to make the score 5-0. Then, Clark closed out the first period with her second goal of the match.
The lone goal the Lady Cougars scored in the second half came when Angelica Tabares drew a foul within the box. Tehgan Anguilm seized the penalty kick opportunity and found the back of the net.
In the net, Union’s starter, Francis, allowed six goals and made three saves, while substitute Anna Venckus allowed one goal in 29 minutes of play. For CSU, starting keeper Adrianna Ortiz saved the lone shot on goal she faced, while substitute Bria Riancho played the entire second half and faced zero shots on goal.
The Bulldogs dropped their two home games this weekend.
The first loss was at the hands of West Alabama on Friday with a final of 2-1.
West Alabama scored first with an unassisted goal from Jean-Baptiste Meyniel in the 21st minute. Within the next minute, Union earned a penalty kick and Robel Dent cashed in on the opportunity, tying the game at one.
This remained the score into halftime as well as the majority of the second half. In the 88th minute, Meyniel contributed for West Alabama once again, assisting Keegan McQueen.
West Alabama outshot Union 19-11. Casper Nyberg played the full game as Union’s goalkeeper, making two saves. On the other side, Brad Louis made one save in 90 minutes.
Sunday afternoon, Union fell to Southern Indiana in a physical 4-2 match.
The first goal was an own goal by Union’s defense in the 6th minute of play. The Screaming Eagles scored again six minutes later with a goal from Justin Raines, assisted by Drew Albert and Tyler Paradis. After 15 minutes filled with increasing Union frustration, Southern Indiana’s Sean Rickey scored off of an Adam Newman assist. The Bulldogs’ first goal came in the 43rd minute from William Valencia, setting a halftime score of 3-1.
In the 71st minute of the game, Justin Brooks scored Southern Indiana’s fourth goal off of an assist by Albert. As tensions continued to rise, the official made called a controversial foul on the Eagles in the box in the 80th minute of play. At this point, USI’s starting keeper, Adam Zehme, had been pulled, and Justin Faas was in goal. Union’s Andre Silva capitalized on the opportunity to test the substitute, sending the penalty kick into the upper right of the net. This set the final score of 4-2.
In the game, Southern Indiana outshot Union 16-14. Zehme had two saves and Faas had one, while Union’s keeper Casper Nyberg had five saves.
Coming up in Union sports, Freed-Hardeman will host men’s and women’s golf in Ryder Cup-style match play on Thursday and Friday. In addition, the volleyball team will travel to Franklin Springs, Georgia. to play in the Emmanuel Tournament that includes two matches on Friday and two on Saturday. In soccer, the men play at Oakland City on Saturday, while the women play at North Alabama on Sunday.