Men’s Soccer Just Misses Championship Gold
Julian Fernandez ’11, new head men’s soccer coach and four-year star of the team when he was a student, did something he had never accomplished as a player — he took the team to the program’s first-ever playoff victory.
But the firsts didn’t stop there as the team enjoyed a magical run all the way to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Championship.
It was certainly something the coach hadn’t expected.
“At the beginning of the year we had a meeting to set goals,” Fernandez says. “A lot of the guys wanted to make it to the NCAA tournament but we knew that would be an uphill battle. So we settled on something realistic, earning a home playoff game.”
As the conference’s fifth seed, the Griffins did get that home playoff game, against cross-town rival Philadelphia University, a team they had beaten not three days prior, to close out the regular season.
“It’s tough to beat a team twice in one season, let alone twice in three days,” Fernandez says.
The Rams kicked off the scoring but the Griffins were quick to get the equalizer less than one minute later. CHC took the lead on a penalty kick off of the foot of Nicholas Jaffe ’16, who had led the conference in shots taken and was top five in goals and points, only to have Philly U regain the momentum with a game tying goal toward the end of regulation. After two ten-minute overtimes, the game was still tied, so it headed to a shootout.
“We had taken shootout practice the day before and were writing down the names of the players as they made shots,” Fernandez says. “We didn’t have any paper so my assistant coach handed me a business card and we wrote on that. I still have that card in my wallet.”
After missing their first shot, the Griffins were successful on the next four before goalie James Jackson ’17 made the biggest save of the game, stopping what would have been the go-ahead goal and allowing CHC the final shot, a goal by freshman Jeffrey Ast.
The win led the Griffins to the CACC semifinals where they matched up against Wilmington University, a team that had given CHC their worst loss of the season.
“Going into the Wilmington game, we knew we were going to be underdogs but we thrived in that role,” Fernandez says. “They are a team of big egos and once we were able to frustrate them defensively, we knew we’d be in good shape.”
In net, Jackson was brilliant, allowing just one goal to the team that had scored six on the Griffins back in September and that averaged just under three on the season. Offensively, it was the captain Jaffe who had put the team on his back, scoring the game-tying goal with just over half of the game left and the game-winning goal in overtime with a penalty kick.
“Nick has always been a tremendous player and has grown into his role as a leader,” Fernandez says. “He’s a game-changer and a lot of teams don’t have that kind of player, so when it came down to Nick making a penalty kick, I won’t say I knew we were going to win, but I was confident. With the game on the line, he is absolutely the guy we want taking that shot.”
Jaffe made the kick, his third goal of the playoffs, and the Griffins advanced to face Bloomfield College, which was coming off an upset of its own, in the championship.
It was two early goals that got the Bears staked to a quick lead and while the Griffins battled back, evening the score with just under 30 minutes left to play, Bloomfield scored the championship-winning goal in the 86th minute.
“I think after getting that far and doing it the way we did, this team is far beyond the goal of just making the playoffs,” Fernandez says. “The bar has been raised and now that the guys have gotten the experience and gotten the taste, we want to be back in the finals, in that championship game. And we want to win.”
—Marilee Gallagher ’14
Sprint Football Earns Seven Honorable Mentions
Passionate and productive, CHC’s first-ever sprint football team put everything it had into a successful season. The team won three games including the College’s first football game, the inaugural Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Bowl against rival Post University and a season-closing victory over Princeton University.
As a result of these successes and despite the team playing only five games (due to the provisional first-year schedule) compared to the seven of their opponents, seven student athletes, sophomore Domoree Hill, and freshmen, Raevon Floyd-Bennett, Brian Layden, Jon Baldwin, Kevin Meredith, Kevin Clancy and Dasantae Callis, were given all-CSFL distinction as honorable mentions on the conference-wide team.
Callis, the team’s top running back, ranked eighth in the league in total yards with 381 and fifth in yards per game with 76.2. Additionally, he totaled a very respectable 5.4 yards per carry.
As good as Callis was, he was able to put up those numbers due to an offensive line that supported the league’s fourth-best rushing average with 158.4 yards per game and the league’s best sack prevention, allowing just three the entire season. Anchoring this front five were Clancy and Meredith.
Wide receiver and defensive back, Floyd-Bennett totaled 571 all-purpose yards, ranking him third in the CSFL in all-purpose yards per game with 114.2. The majority of his yards came on kickoff returns, as with 242 on 10 returns, Floyd-Bennett ranked fourth in return yardage. Additionally, he had four interceptions on defense, good enough for third in the league.
Hill, the College’s leading receiver, ranked eighth in the CSFL in receptions with 19, fifth in receiving yards with 381 and tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns with four.
On defense, Layden led the Griffins with 39.5 total tackles, ranking second in the league in tackles per game with 9.8. Additionally, he had 3.5 sacks in just five games. Also earning recognition on the defensive side of the ball was Baldwin who had 25.5 tackles and finished tied for 10th in the CSFL in tackles per game with seven.
“We are very appreciative that the members of the Collegiate Sprint Football League chose to recognize members of the 2015 Chestnut Hill Sprint Football team for all league honors,” says Mike Pearson, head sprint football coach. “The members of the team did a great job and represented our school with honor. It is our sincere hope that the league choosing to recognize our players will help all new teams joining the CSFL to have similar opportunities in the future.”
— Marilee Gallagher ’14
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