Brandywine Fall Teams Kick Off 2017 Seasons Friday

Kierra MacLeod
Kierra MacLeod

MEDIA, Pa. -- Five of Penn State Brandywine's seven fall teams will get the regular season started on Friday as men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball and men's and women's cross country all begin their respective 2017 campaigns on the road.

Brandywine men's and women's soccer will be aim to repeat as PSUAC champion in 2017 after going undefeated in the league one year ago. The men's soccer team has won three of the last four conference championships, while the women's squad picked up its first crown in just its second season as a varsity team.

Men's soccer begins a 17-game slate with a pair of matches against NCAA Division III opponents in Pittsburgh this weekend. The Lions open at St. Vincent on Friday and face Pitt-Greensburg Saturday afternoon, the first two of six consecutive games against Division III foes to start the season, giving Brandywine one of the toughest schedules in the PSUAC.

Two-time USCAA All-American defender James Cellucci headlines nine returners from last year's squad, which posted a record of 15-3-1. Joining Cellucci on the back line are all-conference performers Stevie DiSipio and goalkeeper Joe Opdenaker.  Offensively, the team must replace the combined 58 goals scored by graduated seniors Bill Walleekendeh and Brad Jule, who has joined Head Coach Jesse Zafiratos' coaching staff in 2017. Mike Usher is the top returning scorer after tallying a team-high 13 assists and seven goals.

First-year Head Coach Michelle Jacquette welcomes a young, but experienced group back for the Brandywine women's soccer team. Twelve returning student-athletes, including five who earned all-conference awards, give Brandywine a chance to to repeat as PSUAC champion and make a return trip to the USCAA Tournament. Four of Brandywine's top five scorers return led by sophomores Brianna Banks, who was named USCAA First Team All-American and PSUAC Player of the Year after scoring a league-leading 30 goals and 69 points, and Rachel Weir, a First Team All-PSUAC standout with 32 total points. On defense, all-American net minder Emily Bush allowed less than one goal per game as a freshman, while earning 14 victories.

Brandywine gets the season started against Immaculata for the second-straight season after defeating the Mighty Macs 3-0 in the 2016 opener for the team's first-ever win against a Division III opponent. Following three non-conference games against Division III schools, Brandywine will face a Division II foe for the first time on Sept. 12 when it hosts Lincoln University. The Lions, who outscored PSUAC teams 72-5 in 12 matches last year, play eight league matches prior to the conference tournament.

Brandywine volleyball, which failed to reach the PSUAC Tournament championship match for the first time since 2012 last year, also will be guided by a first-year head coach in Fabiana Scavicchio-Fields. 2016 PSUAC Player of the Year and three-time all-conference selection Nikki Poissant finished near the top of the PSUAC in nearly every statistical category, including a league-leading 270 kills last season, while all-conference setter Sullivan Stark topped the conference with nearly 800 assists.
Brandywine will travel to Rosemont to open the season Friday night. The Lions, who have defeated the Ravens in straight sets to begin the last two seasons, will be Brandywine's first team to play at home this fall with a match against Bryn Mawr on Saturday at noon. The Lions play seven non-conference matches against Division III teams in addition to their 16-game PSUAC schedule.

The men's and women's cross country teams will be running at Rose Tree Park in the Bryn Mawr Invitational on Friday evening. The meet will be the first of six regular-season races prior to the PSUAC Championships at Mont Alto on Saturday, Oct. 28.

John Li, who owns the school record 8K time, leads the men's squad. Entering his junior season, Li has earned two all-conference awards and run at the USCAA National Championships twice. Brooke Theveny is the top returner on the women's side after earning second team all-conference accolades as a freshman.

Brandywine women's tennis and men's golf will have to wait a few days longer to get their fall seasons underway. The golf team, making its return to the PSUAC after a four-year hiatus, will be in State College for the PSUAC Invitational at Penn State's Blue Course on Sept. 7. The team will also close out the season on the Blue Course in the middle of October during the PSUAC/USCAA Championships. Women's tennis welcomes Gwynedd Mercy to campus on Sept. 11 for its first of six matches this fall.