Lyndon Fall athletic teams open 2012 seasons over weekend

LYNDON CENTER - All six Lyndon Fall athletic programs will open their respective seasons the weekend of Aug. 31- Sept. 1. Many have high hopes for a successful season ahead while others look to rebuild.

Men's Cross Country - A year ago, the Lyndon men's cross country team was poised to win its fourth-consecutive North Atlantic Conference championship. Unfortunately for the Hornets, difficult course conditions and a few key stumbles along the way led to a 35-38 loss to New England College at the 2011 NAC Championships.

Now, nearly one year later, Lyndon is refocusing its efforts and preparing to take a strong run at its fourth NAC title in five years.

Leading the way is senior Joshua Grant, who has been a mainstay in the leagues hierarchy of runners over the past three seasons. Joining him will be All-NAC performers Tyler Scheibenpflug, Jimmy Bielli, Joe Kill and Kenedi Hall. The quintet will form what is arguably the most formidable pack of runners in the NAC.

Joining the Hornets this year is junior transfer Kyle Powers, a St. Johnsbury Academy graduate who ran for NCAA Division I power Liberty University two years ago.

"This team has talent and depth," said 17th-year Head Coach Chris Ummer. "Our top four runners (Grant, Scheibenpflug, Hall, and Powers) can run with most of the top New England teams. Behind them we have a number of people that could make our top five very strong. The key for the men will be staying healthy and injury free as well as weathering the long season. Our focus will be the conference championship and NCAA Regionals, which are two months away. Until then we've race conservatively."

Rounding out the Hornet roster are seniors Ethan Fontneau, Patrick Kelsey and Jason Zheng; sophomores Ryan Gannon, Calvin Sanderson and Alex Williams and freshmen Timothy LaRoche and Benjamin Lewis. 

Women's Cross Country - The Lyndon women's cross country team will be in a rebuilding mode with the losses of all-conference selections Allyne O'Hearn, Gabrielle Mathewson and Ani Pytlewski.

"I would consider this year a rebuilding year for our women's team due to the inexperience and youth on the team," said Ummer. "That inexperience is exciting to work with though and based on what I've seen so far I think it will be a year of pleasant surprises."

 Cassie Tricou, an All-NAC Second Team performer in 2011, and fellow senior Leah Morgan will lead a young pack of harriers which includes juniors Brittany Rogers and Meagan Swahn, sophomore Haley Joslyn and the freshmen trio of Ashley Burrill, Helena Kehne and Ainsley Nettell.

Chris Ummer, the four-time reigning NAC Coach of the Year, returns for his 19th year at the helm of the women's program.

Men's soccer - With a roster that features seven experienced seniors, the Lyndon men's soccer program is beaming with optimism as it heads into the 2012 North Atlantic Conference campaign.

Two-time All-NAC performer Patrice Lumumba, the team's leading scorer the past three seasons, returns for his final season in a Hornet uniform and will team with fellow senior Shane O'Donnell-Leach to form a formidable one-two punch on the front line.

In the midfield, Kyle Mecham, an All-NAC selection in 2010 who began his collegiate soccer career at Fairleigh Dickinson, a NCAA Division I institution, will anchor the Lyndon transition game along with Matt Browne, who returns to his customary sweeper position.

The back line took a hit with the graduation of three-year starters Luke Haskell and Kyle Waterman, but the solid and steady play of senior Patrick Hilton should keep opposing offenses at bay and away from former All-NAC goalkeeper Jason Gray.

Veteran returnees Ben Collins, Cory Hathaway, Lueth Ajok Lueth, Eric Nelson, Stefan Vergura and Quinn Rambo will see expanded minutes this season while newcomers Blake Begnoche, Yessi El-Elnabi, Mike Rebeor and Youl Youl add depth and talent to the Hornet roster.

Women's Soccer - Having lost its two top scorers from the past two seasons, the Lyndon women's soccer program will pin its hopes for a successful 2012 campaign on a young roster which features six freshman and six sophomores.

Up front the Hornets will be looking for scoring from sophomore Sarah Cornell, a Lyndon Institute alum, and senior Emily Strese, who transferred to Lyndon in 2011 from Southern New Hampshire University, a NCAA Division II institution.

Freshman strikers Saiya Sok and Ritza Arias have shown a tremendous amount of potential in preseason scrimmages and could bolster the Lyndon offense as they gain experience.
The midfield is deep and talented with veterans Ceili Grinnell, Megan Phelps, Hillary Bonasera, Kaitlyn Conley and Morgan Sanderson back for another season.

On defense, sophomores Katy Ebner, Megan Audet and Lindi Libera return along with senior goalkeeper Adele Zeh. St. Johnsbury grad Ashley Barski will compete with Zeh for minutes in the Hornet goal while freshmen Larissa Bargfrede, Erika Lind, Taylor Trask and Kajay Rooke provide depth in the midfield and on the back line.

Women's Volleyball - In the 2011 season, the Lyndon women's volleyball team appeared to be headed in a positive direction behind All-North Atlantic Conference selection Maegen Fried and a number of solid underclassmen who added depth and talent to the fifth-year program.

One year later, the Hornets find themselves without Fried and outside hitter Kayla Cormier who have both left school since the end of the Fall 2011 semester. Fried led the team in kills with 106 and digs with 138 while Cormier ranked second on the team in kills with 47 and third in digs with 98.

Sixth-year head coach Sean Fisher will pin the Hornets hopes of a second-straight NAC playoff berth on juniors Morgan Diltz, Erica Ponte and Jessica Walsh, who all came into their own last season.

Diltz collected 63 kills, 30 aces and 102 digs in her first year on the team while Ponte chipped in 39 kills, 11 aces and 55 digs. Walsh contributed solid play at the net along with sophomore Joy Piper, who amassed 28 kills, 26 assists, 13 aces and 76 digs in her rookie season.

On the back line, sophomore Taylor Young and senior Jaclyn Brett return and will be counted on to thwart opposing attacks and jump start the Hornet counter attack. Young had a team-high 121 assists in 2011 to go along with 30 aces and 87 digs. Brett chipped in 44 assists, 25 digs and nine aces.

Team veterans Sarah Adams, Megan Darrigo and Ariel Wright may play expanded roles this season and newcomers Alyssa Braley, Laura Drake and Liz Mainville will be given an opportunity to earn playing time early in the season.

Women's Tennis - Over the past three seasons, the Lyndon women's tennis team has been a permanent fixture in the North Eastern Athletic Conference Eastern Division playoffs. However, what has eluded the Hornets during that time is there first-ever division title and a shot at the league crown.

Bolstered by the return of five seasoned veterans, and an influx of eager underclassmen, Lyndon appears to be poised to move it way up the standings in the NEAC East.

All-NEAC East First-Teamer Kayla Flynn returns for her junior year and is looking to improve upon her singles record of 8-4 in 201 and a double mark of 5-7. Fellow junior Kelsey Johnson, Flynn's doubles partner last season, will battle for the No. 2 singles spot along with Maria Parr, an All-NEAC selection in 2010, who returns after a year away from the Lyndon campus.

Lake Region grads Margaret George and Olivia Barnard will see their share of singles and doubles action in 2012 along with juniors Kelly Butler and Chelsea Watson.

New to the program this year are freshmen Stephanie Burke, Dale Frattaroli, Heather Gibson and Alexandria Maynard. The foursome will be given an opportunity to earn playing time in both singles and doubles under Sue Henry, who begins her fourth year as head coach of the Hornets. 

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