Penn College lax team stays unbeaten

Published 03.05.2023

Wildcat Weekly

The Pennsylvania College of Technology men’s lacrosse team kept its season-opening unbeaten streak intact with a pair of wins this past week, while the college’s men’s and women’s basketball coaches looked back on their recently completed seasons.

Men’s lacrosse
The Wildcats stretched their school-record win streak to four on Wednesday with an 11-4 nonconference victory at Juniata College. Four Wildcats scored two goals each, led by Isaac Hernandez, of Monroe Township, New Jersey, and Camden Elmo, of Hanover, who also recorded one assist. In goal, JJ Cella, of Cape May, New Jersey, made 12 saves.

James Thatcher’s third goal of the match, unassisted with 23 seconds remaining in the fourth period, lifted Penn College to a thrilling 12-11 home nonconference win over Drew University on Saturday and extended its win streak to five. Thatcher, of Bala Cynwyd, finished with four points as he also had an assist, while teammate Devin Page, of Pine City, New York, also had a hat trick for the Wildcats. Cella had 20 saves in the goal.

Women’s basketball
A top-four finish in the United East Conference, the winningest campaign since 2014-15 with a 9-8 conference record (9-7 regular season) and 10-16 overall mark. This year’s team had much to celebrate.

“I think it is important that we live in the moment, here and now,” third-year coach Britni Mohney said. “People keep asking what we can do next year to get ourselves to the next level, but can we talk about what we did this year.

“The change our student-athletes made in the program, a program that started out 1-11 going into the second half of the season and made United East Playoffs for the first time. That in itself is astounding. Our student-athletes never gave up, not on themselves, not on the coaching staff, and not on the team.

“What we did this year was not easy, and for that, these young women deserve all the accolades for what they accomplished. Reaching double-digit wins for the first time since 2014-15, earning the program’s first-ever trip in the NCAA era to the conference postseason; that’s what they did; that’s what they worked hard to achieve.

“We beat a veteran team in regular-season conference play who returned their entire cast who won the United East Conference championship in 2022 and 2023; that alone should give you faith and give you excitement about the future of Penn College basketball.”

Mohney noted the importance of a well-balanced team effort, saying, “On any given night, on any given day, anyone on this team could have a night, which shows that the program is going in the right direction and that we have weapons throughout our roster.

“Rachel Teats, of Middleburg, put together another outstanding performance across the board, and we saw breakthrough performances from veteran Emily Pardee, of Williamsport, and first-year player Lexi Troup, of Huntingdon.

“Emily improved from last season and was asked to put in big minutes for us and be a hard presence to cover in the paint and she did that, shooting 42.9% from the floor and bringing down 6.9 rebounds a game.

“After recruiting Lexi Troup in her high school season, we knew she would be an immediate impact to our program, but she far exceeded our expectations by becoming our leading scorer in her first season, knocking down clutch free throws, and putting the ball in her hands for game-winning shots. That’s a lot to handle as a first-year at the collegiate level and she did an exceptional job.”

Troup led the Wildcats with 249 points and Teats was second in scoring with 245 points.

A junior, Teats led the team with 173 rebounds, 74 assists and 46 steals, earning all-conference second-team honors.

“I’m extremely proud that Rachel received the recognition she deserves,” Mohney said. “While Rachel went from leading scorer in 2021-22 (she had 292 points and now has 537 for her career) to second in points on the team in 2022-23, her presence was known in every aspect of the game. She led the team in rebounds, assists and steals. This just goes to show she is a threat in every aspect of the game and that if you take away her scoring, she is still going to be a problem on the floor. With her all-conference recognition, it means that other coaches in the conference are beginning to respect our program and understand that we are not an easy opponent.”

Senior Ja’Quela Dyer, of Dover, Delaware, closed out her career with 583 points and 648 rebounds and drew praise from her coach.

“Ja’Quela has been an outstanding presence on our team for the last four years. She is one of the few that has seen the program go from where it was to where it is now,” Mohney said. “Her contributions do not go unnoticed as she is one of the top rebounders we’ve seen go through this program. Her presence in the paint will be a void we have to fill next season, but I have no doubt in my mind that, between Bell Hitesman, of Muncy, and Eliza Newcomer, of Newell, we can take care of business by protecting the paint and securing the boards.”

Men’s basketball
“Great progress over the past year.”

That’s what coach Geoff Hensley saw from his team during its recently completed season as it finished 10-15 overall and 5-11 in the United East.

“This season, we doubled our win total from last year and it was also our program’s first season winning 10 games in the NCAA era (and first 10-win season since 2010-11),” the fourth-year coach said. “It was also a great season individually as all our returners improved from last season, including Gavin Barrett, who was the first Penn College men’s basketball player to be named to the United East All-Conference first team.

“Outside of our one senior, Will Sulesky, we played mostly freshmen and sophomores who battled and competed with some very good senior-led teams. We went toe-to-toe with the best teams in the conference where the game results could have gone either way.”

Barrett, of Roselle, New Jersey, led the Wildcats in scoring with 460 points (he has 718 career points in two seasons), in rebounding (143), in assists (169) and in steals (47). In the United East, Barrett led in scoring average (18.5 per game) and assists per game (6.7) while finishing third in steals per contest (2) and eighth in rebounds (5.9).

Hensley said, “Individually, Gavin had a great year for us and really led us on the floor. He is arguably the best player in the conference.

“Sulesky, of Huntingdon, was our senior leader who did the majority of the vocal leadership and a lot of the ‘dirty’ work in games with his physical defense and rebounding.

“Alec Cooper, of Huntingdon, had a fantastic first year for us where he worked his way into the starting lineup as a freshman and finished third on the team with 9.8 points per game while also guarding the other team’s best guard.

“I also thought Max Jackowsky, of Garnet Valley; Rees Watkins, of Loyalsock Township; and Michael Woolridge, of Hollidaysburg, all made huge strides this year from last season and were key contributors to our team success. Livingston Cross, of Union, New Jersey, and Keon Evans, of Philadelphia, gave us a huge boost at the break when they came in to bring us much-needed size, athleticism and depth for conference play.”

“We made a huge jump this year and now the next jump for us is to finish in the top four in the United East to make it back to the conference tournament (something not achieved since 2019-20), the coach continued.

“We have been young the last two years, playing mostly freshmen and sophomores, so next season, we will finally have a core group of upperclassmen who will be juniors and sophomores with great experience from the last two years. We are hoping all this experience will pay off with some big conference wins for us to take our program to the next level. We need one more great off-season and great recruiting class to get over the conference ‘hump’ where we can really be competing for championships the next few years,” Hensley said.

Statistically, teamwise, the Wildcats averaged 74.6 points per game on offense and allowed 78.2. They averaged 35.5 rebounds per game, while their opposition averaged 39 per game. Penn College players made 43.7% of their field goals, shot 32.8% from 3-point range and connected on 67.2% of their foul shots.

During the off-season, Hensley said, “we are focusing on hitting the weight room hard to come back physically stronger and getting in the gym to work on our 3-point shooting. We were young this year, so the senior-dominated teams (i.e.: Abington, Harrisburg, Lancaster Bible College, St. Mary’s, etc.) seemed to be more physical and stronger than us. We need a great off-season in the weight room to come back and match their level of physicality.

“And we finished towards the bottom of the conference in 3-point shooting percentage. We need to all become better 3-point shooters and improve our percentage, which should open up more options for us offensively.”

Wildcat teams in both sports are competing this coming week during “spring break” in Myrtle Beach (baseball) and North Myrtle Beach (softball), South Carolina.

Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – NCAA Division III Championships at Roanoke, Va.

Overall: 0-2
UE: 0-0
The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Sunday, March 5 – vs. Hilbert College (2), 9 a.m.
Monday, March 6 – vs. Rivier University, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 7 – vs. La Roche University (2), 9 a.m.
Wednesday, March 8 – vs. Catholic University, 10 a.m.
Thursday, March 9 – vs. Bethany College, 1 p.m.
Thursday, March 9 – vs. Suffolk University, 6:30 p.m.

Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic, North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Monday, March 6 – vs. Medaille College, 11 a.m.
Monday, March 6 – vs. Gettysburg College, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, March 7 – vs. Fitchburg State College, 11 a.m.
Tuesday, March 7 – vs. Cedar Crest College, 3 p.m.
Thursday, March 9 – vs. William Peace University, 11 a.m.
Thursday, March 9 – vs. Greensboro College, 3 p.m.
Friday, March 10 – vs. Regis College, 11 a.m.
Friday, March 10 – vs. Montclair State University, 1 p.m.

Men’s lacrosse
Overall: 5-0
UE: 0-0
Wednesday, March 1 – at Juniata College, W, 11-4
Saturday, March 4 – host Drew University, W, 12-11
Wednesday, March 8 – at St. Mary’s (Md.) College (UE), 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 11 – at Shenandoah University, 1 p.m.
Saturday, March 18 – host Immaculata University, 1 p.m.

(All events at Wildcat Den)
Monday, Feb. 27 – CIL Cup Series-Darlington, 18 and 26 of 39
Wednesday, March 1 – CIL Short Track Showdown-South Boston Speedway, 9 of 15
Monday, March 6 – CIL Cup Series-Las Vegas, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 7 – CIL Formula College World Championship-Road Atlanta, 8 p.m.
Monday, March 13 – CIL Cup Series-Phoenix, 8 p.m.

NACE Rocket League Varsity
Record: 0-3
Monday, Feb. 27 – vs. Michigan Technological University, L, 3-0 (3-2, 4-3, 2-0)
Monday, March 6 – vs. St. Lawrence University, 7 p.m.
Monday, March 13 – vs. St. Xavier University, 7 p.m.
Monday, March 20 – vs. Lawrence Technological University, 7 p.m.

NACE Overwatch 2
Record: 0-4
Tuesday, Feb. 28 – vs. Ozarks Technical Community College, L, 3-0 (2-0, 3-0, 3-0)
Tuesday, March 7 – vs. North Carolina, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 14 – vs. University of Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 21 – vs. George Mason University, 7 p.m.

NACE Valorant
Record: 0-4
Wednesday, March 1 – vs. Keiser University-Pembroke Pines, L, 2-0 (13-11, 13-11)
Wednesday, March 8 – vs. Cornell College, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, March 15 – vs. University of Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, March 22 – vs. Ferris State University, 7 p.m.

For more about the United East, visit the conference website.

For additional information, visit the Wildcat Athletics website.

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