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Athlete of the week: Josh Powell ’18

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Swarthmore men’s tennis have had an excellent season this spring. The team won their first eight conference matches and currently sit at an 8-1 conference record and a 12-11 overall record. Key to the Garnet’s success has been Josh Powell ’18. The senior from Norwich, Conn., added to his career accomplishments by picking up Centennial Conference Player of the Week honors for the week of April 23 after going 4-0 in his matches during that week. The Garnet are currently ranked at 16th nationally as they enter the Centennial Conference tournament. They begin the tournament with a home match against Haverford on Saturday, May 5.

Jack Corkery: What is your major, and what led you to choose it?

Josh Powell: I am an engineering and computer science double major. I started taking engineering classes because I was interested in a technical major that puts a lot of focus on building tangible things. Later on, I took the introductory computer science classes and enjoyed them so continued taking them.

J.C.: How did you decide to attend Swarthmore?

J.P.: I was really interested in a liberal arts school where I could study engineering and play tennis. I also loved how close the tennis team was and the overall team dynamic.

J.C.: How did you begin playing tennis?

J.P.: My dad is a really big tennis fan and a former college player. We started playing tennis when I was very young.

J.C.: What was it like being named Centennial Conference Player of the Week?

JP: The team had two big wins that week against Mary Washington and Franklin and Marshall. I was happy to be a part of that and see the tennis team rise to no.16 in the national rankings as a result.

J.C.: How do you feel about the team’s chances in the Centennial Conference playoffs and the NCAA playoffs?

J.P.: The team is confident because we have had a strong season but we recognize that we will have to win two tough matches in the Centennial Conference playoffs. We are really just focused on the Conference playoffs this weekend right now and if we win, we will start thinking about the NCAA tournament.

J.C.: Do you have any post-graduation plans?

J.P.: I am planning on travelling after graduation and will start working at Uber ATG as a software engineer at the end of July.

J.C.: What is one thing that you would change about Swarthmore?

J.P.: I am lactose-intolerant, and I wish there was non-dairy ice cream in Sharples every night.

J.C.: What is your favorite Swarthmore tennis memory?

J.P.: My favorite memory was the tennis trip to Southern California this past spring break. We had some really good results. However, for me, the highlight was spending time with the team off court, from getting Korean BBQ to just relaxing after a match.

Athlete of the week: Lucy Decker ’21

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Lucy Decker ’21 has become a key contributor to the softball pitching staff in her first year at Swarthmore. The right-handed pitcher from Walnut Creek, Ca., has six wins on the year, a team high for the pitchers. Most notably, Decker threw a complete game shutout against Washington College this past week, leading the Garnet to a 2-0 win in the second half of the doubleheader. The Garnet concluded their season on Tuesday with losses against Haverford to miss out on the Centennial Conference playoffs, but finished with the highest number of wins in a season for the team since 2013.

Ping Promrat: What is your intended major? Why are you interested in it?

Lucy Decker: My intended major is Physics. This field contributes so much to our knowledge of the way the world works, and I find that the more that I learn the more questions that I have. That’s why I like physics so much; there is just so much to be discovered, which is really exciting.

PP: What got you into softball as a kid? How did you find out about Swarthmore in the recruiting process?

LD: I started playing softball as a natural next step after tee-ball when I was seven or eight. I played a lot of different sports as I was growing up, but softball was the one that I liked the most and the one that ultimately stuck for the long run. I’m from California, and I played on a travel-ball softball team through high school that was pretty intense with recruiting, and I had several teammates come play at elite liberal arts schools like Swarthmore. So I kind of got the idea of going to a school like Swat from them, and I followed their lead and eventually ended up here! The recruiting process was a little difficult, being from so far away, but after I came on my recruit visit, I knew that I wanted to come here.

PP: What’s been the hardest adjustment for you this year?

LD: I think that the hardest adjustment for me this year has been to learn to manage my time and my priorities. Especially in season, I don’t have a lot of free time, so it has been really important to figure out a way to get all of my work done as well and efficiently as possible while also finding time to enjoy myself. It has been a difficult balance to find, but with the year winding down, I think that I’ve figured out what works best for me.  

PP: Where is your favorite spot on campus and why?

LD: My favorite spot on campus is probably the Wharton Courtyard. We don’t get snow where I live in California, so I remember looking out of my window into the courtyard the first time that it snowed this year and being completely mesmerized. I think that it’s one of the most beautiful places on campus no matter the season, but especially in the winter.

PP: How did it feel to pitch a shutout? What goals do you have for the rest of the year individually and for the team?

LD: It was really exciting to pitch a shutout, especially against Washington College. It was a game that we really needed to win to keeps our hopes alive in making the Conference playoffs. I was really happy that I was able to give my team the best chance to win the game, which is all that you can hope for when you step into the circle. In terms of the rest of the season, we are looking to keep winning and make it to the Conference tournament. This has been a really pivotal season for us, and we hope that we can continue to build Swat softball into a winning program. I just hope to contribute as much as I can to help the team win.

NHL playoff roundup

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In order to win what is often considered one of the most difficult trophies in all of professional sports, hockey players put everything on the line for two months hoping to etch their names into the history books. A team must win four best-of-seven series in order to be crowned champion. The long and difficult road that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs began on April 11 and featured 16 teams, all vying for the famous trophy. The first round of the NHL playoffs featured eight series and 43 games in 16 different cities. There is no lack of storylines going into this year’s playoffs. The Las Vegas Golden Knights look to be the first expansion team ever to win a Stanley Cup in their first season, while the Pittsburgh Penguins are attempting to win their third Cup in a row, a feat which hasn’t been done since the New York Islanders won four in row from 1979 to 1983.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights made history on April 17, when they became the first expansion team in their inaugural season to sweep their first-round opponents. With an expansion draft, the Golden Knights were able to select a variety of players, young and experienced, to form a well-rounded team. With this team they beat the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, outscoring them 6 to 3 over four games. The series’ star was goaltender Marc Andre Fleury who posted two shutouts while only allowing three goals in four games. The Golden Knights will take on the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division title. The Sharks’ balanced team scoring and strong defensive efforts helped them sweep the Anaheim Ducks in four games. The matchup between the Golden Knights and Sharks, two teams who dominated the first round, will take place later this week and will likely feature strong defensive efforts, and world-class goaltending.

On the other side of the Western Conference, we have the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets, the two top seeds in the Conference, playing the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild respectively. For Nashville, runners-up in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals, this year offers a chance at redemption after falling just short in 2017. All-star defenseman P.K. Subban and the Predators took one step closer to the finals with a 5-0 win last Sunday in Colorado. The Avalanche, a young team led by Nathan Mackinnon, managed to take two games from the Predators before failing to score in the sixth game.

The Winnipeg Jets, with a little more ease, won their first round in five games, outscoring the Wild 16-9 with goaltender Connor Hellebuyck posting two shutouts in the final two games. This is the first year the Jets have won their first round series, and only the second time since the franchise moved to Winnipeg in 2011 that they have qualified for the playoffs. The last time was in 2014, when they got swept by the Ducks. The Predators will play the Jets in a highly anticipated matchup of the league’s top teams, after the conclusion of the Boston-Toronto series.

In the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Division featured the only series to make it to seven games. The Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing a Game 7 on Wednesday night at TD Garden in Boston. The Maple Leafs, facing elimination on Monday night, managed to force a Game 7 by beating Boston 3-1 after being down 1-0 in the second period with a goal from Boston’s Jake DeBrusk. Leafs goalie Craig Anderson produced a 32-save performance, allowing his team to rally and score two goals in the second and an empty net late in the third.

The story of the other series in the Atlantic was not quite as exciting. The Tampa Bay Lighting, one of the favorites to challenge for the cup this year, ousted the New Jersey Devils in five games. The Lightning, led by forward Nikita Kucherov, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and a strong penalty kill, looked in control throughout the series. The New Jersey Devils showed little fight throughout the series, save in Game 3 where they won 5-3 on home ice. Going into the series, the Devils were always underdogs, as they just managed to squeak into the playoffs as the second wild card team. Furthermore, history was not on their side, as the second wildcard team has yet to win a Stanley Cup, and rarely makes it passed the first round. The Lightning await the winner of the Boston-Toronto series.  

The third Eastern Conference featured the battle of Pennsylvania, which followed a much different narrative, as five of the six games were decided by three or more goals. This rivalry extends beyond hockey, as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are constantly vying for the most successful teams in the state. With regards to hockey, in recent years Pittsburgh has had the upper hand, but given recent events, Philadelphia definitely has football in control. The Pittsburgh Penguins on their quest for a three-peat, got off to a rocking start with captain and back-to-back playoff MVP, Sidney Crosby scoring a hat trick as the Penguins cruised to a 7-0 series opener. The Flyers would eventually bounce back, but ultimately the Penguins were too much, as was evident in Game 6 when the Penguins won 8-5, with forward Jake Guentzel scoring four goals in 12 minutes. The Flyers, undone by their lack of quality goaltending, conceded 28 goals in the series, the most of any team this playoffs.

In the final Eastern Conference series, the Washington Capitals took on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Many pundits saw this as a close series, and at first it appeared that the Blue Jackets would advance after taking a commanding 2-0 series lead. However, the Capitals stormed back to win four games in a row and claim their place in the second round. Lead by Alex Ovechkin with five goals and goaltender Braden Holtby, who went undefeated in the series, the Capitals overcame the strong team play of the Blue Jackets, led by rising star Artemi Panarin. The series loss leaves the Blue Jackets as the only team never to have won a playoff series in franchise history.

The Penguins will face the Capitals in the second round of the playoffs for the third time in a row. The Capitals have never made it past this round, despite often having home-ice advantage and stacked teams. Whether it is Ovi and The Capitals or Crosby and the Pens, the winner of the series has a good chance of taking home the Cup, as both of the teams have all-star players, depth, and spectacular goalkeepers.

Given the Penguins’ experience and recent Stanley Cup victories, it is fairly clear that they are favorites to win the cup. However, I predict that because of current injuries to Evgeni Malkin and Carl Hagelin, the Penguins will fall to the Lightning in the conference finals, after beating the Capitals in a draining series. On the other side of the league, in the Western Conference, although they are an expansion team, I believe the Vegas Golden Knights will make it to the finals and beat the Lightning, as long as goaltender Marc Andre Fleury is able to keep his current form and the Knights continue to score with three lines.

Men’s and Women’s lacrosse fight to finish strong

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Spring is in the air (though the weather forecast might disagree), and that means it’s time for lacrosse here at Swarthmore.

The women’s lacrosse team has surged out to a 9-3 record behind a high-powered attack and stingy defense. It has been the junior class blazing the way for the Garnet this year. Tess Wild ’19 has scored 20 goals and 20 assists on the season, and broke the career century scoring mark during an 18-5 win over Widener in late March. Eliza Wainwright ’19 is the team leader in goals with 27, one year after a 51-goal campaign (60 points total), and is also over the 100 career points mark. Kathryn Restrepo ’19 has returned in fine form after spending a year abroad in Spain, which included a stint playing for the Spain Women’s National Lacrosse Team. She scored 60 goals during her first two years with the program and has chipped in 17 goals and 11 assists this year, leaving her just 3 points shy of 100.  

The Garnet have maintained a fairly democratic attack as no player has scored over 30 goals and 11 have scored at least 5 goals (with at least four games left to play). Last season, three players broke the 30-goal mark while only eight managed to score at least 5. Sophie Peipher ’20 and Bridget Silveira ’20 have been great beneficiaries of this expanded attack as Peipher has scored 15 times, after only 5 goals last year. She has especially picked up the pace of scoring in recent games, recording a hat trick against Bryn Mawr and Widener and a brace against Arcadia and Dickinson. Silveira has also seen her scoring blossom to 10 goals after last year’s five-goal campaign.

Some first-years have also had the chance to play important roles on the team. Midfielder Julia Ostrowski has tallied 5 goals and 5 assists, and has started all 11 games she’s played in. Mackenzie Frost has yet to start a game, but she has scored 15 goals, good for fourth on the team.

On defense, the seniors have helped to lead the way with Christina Labows ’18 and Emily Sokol ’18 providing a fearsome presence around the cage. Sophomores Sadie Camillierie ’20 and Sara Mongno ’20 have also figured prominently in the defense. Betsy Cohen has stood tall in net (in spite of her listed 5-foot-1 height) and sits third in the conference in goals against average. All of this has come together to lead the Garnet to their 9-3 record.

However, the Garnet still are on the outside looking in for the Centennial Conference playoff picture, as they currently sit one game back from Haverford and Dickinson for the fourth or fifth seed. All three of their defeats have come at the hands of Centennial Conference opponents, include top-10 ranked Franklin and Marshall and Gettysburg, the No. 1 team in the nation at the time, leaving them at 2-3 in the conference. However, should they maintain their electric attack and defensive prowess, they will surely compete for their first playoff berth since 2012. The home stretch begins Wednesday night at Muhlenberg College.

Men’s lacrosse has had a somewhat more disappointing season so far. One year after their second consecutive Centennial Conference playoff appearance, they have an overall winning record of 6-5, but a conference record of only 1-4, admittedly playing in one of the toughest conferences in the country. They have already played and lost to no.11 Franklin and Marshall, no.6 Gettysburg, and no.10 Dickinson, all in conference play. Perhaps their most shocking game was against Muhlenberg, where they lost 10-9 after falling behind 5-0 in the first quarter, providing Muhlenberg its first conference win since 2014 and snapping a 28-game conference losing streak.

One of the biggest potential holes for the Garnet coming into the season was replacing graduated faceoff man Stephen Ducey. Ducey maintained a .569 faceoff percentage through his four years at Swarthmore, including a monster .644 percentage performance during his senior season. So far, Ryan “Rhino” Izquierdo ’21 has done well to fill his shoes, winning 58 percent of his faceoffs through 11 games played.

Izquierdo said, “It’s been a really exciting freshman year. It’s been somewhat stressful trying to continue where he left off, but I think I’ve been doing a good job and giving all I’ve got out on the field.”

The Garnet have really lacked a dominating attackman this season, a role that Cam Marsh ’18 filled last year in scoring 36 goals and 24 assists. This year, he has been quieter, preferring to open opportunities for his teammates as he has tallied only 13 goals but 20 assists. Austin Chang ’20 has tried to fill that role, already nearly matching his 25-goal output from last season with 23 so far, but does not provide the same volume of assists that Marsh did. Jake Ross ’20 has chipped in 17 goals and 6 assists, while Zander Levitz ’20 rounds out the list of players scoring in double figures, as Levitz has netted 11 while assisting on an additional 9.

Mason Evarts ’21 has been a standout first-year with 6 goals and 6 assists in 11 games, while Andrew Estella ’21 leads all long-poles with 3 goals scored, including a ferocious shot during the Garnet’s loss to Dickinson this past Friday.

Although the Garnet have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, they still have an exciting home game remaining against arch-rival Haverford on April 28.

 

Athlete of the week: Zac O’Dell ʼ20

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Zac O’Dell ʼ20, the 6-foot-7 forward from Schenectady N.Y., has been a key contributor to the Garnet men’s basketball team in their historic season. O’Dell has had standout games against Middlebury — one of the best teams in Division III — and more recently against Haverford, where he scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. The Garnet knocked off Franklin and Marshall in a well-attended scrappy game this past Saturday to clinch home court advantage for the Centennial Conference playoffs. Swarthmore will host Ursinus in the conference semifinals this Friday at Tarble Pavilion. If Swarthmore wins, the team will take on the winner of Johns Hopkins and Franklin and Marshall in the final on Saturday. We hope to see everyone at the game!

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what are your plans following graduation at Swarthmore?

Zac O’Dell: I am in the process of becoming a biochemistry Major and a psychology minor. As for plans after Swat, I’m not quite sure at the moment, but I would like to go to graduate school, I think.

PP: What got you into basketball as a kid? How did you find out about Swarthmore in the recruiting process?

ZO: Both my parents played basketball in college, so I’ve really enjoyed both playing and watching the sport for as long as I can remember. Before being recruited, I had actually never heard of Swarthmore, but after I went to a basketball camp at Columbia during my junior summer, Coach Landry reached out to me, and I fell in love with the school.

PP: What have been some of the highlights from this season?

ZO: I would say the trip to Middlebury College is one of my favorite highlights from the season. All the guys had a blast on the overnight trip, and we finished it off by beating a top tier team on the road.

PP: How would you describe the fan support at Swarthmore for the team, and has it improved over the last year?

ZO: Since I’ve been at Swarthmore, the fan support has been unbelievable. I’ve only lost two or three games at home in my two years here, and the fan base is a key factor in that. As a team we love seeing the campus coming out, getting wild, and supporting the team. It’s really a lot of fun for everybody.

PP: What was the senior game against Franklin and Marshall like? Did the team appreciate the fans who came out to support?

ZO: The senior game versus Franklin and Marshall was a lot of fun. Swat versus F and M always feels like a rivalry game, as both teams have been at the top the conference since I’ve been here, and beating them on Senior Night and clinching home court for the playoffs made for a very fun win. The team loves all the fans that come out to support — it definitely makes a difference with them there, especially in close games like Senior Night.

PP: How important is home court advantage for the team going into the playoffs?

ZO: Home court advantage is huge for the playoffs. As a team we get to go through the same routine we always do getting ready for home games, which helps us out a lot. The fan base is also another important factor. For fans to be getting dressed up in wild outfits and then come be loud at the games puts the energy and momentum in favor of us from the very tip.

Both Men’s and Women’s Tennis Qualify for Playoffs

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Both Swarthmore tennis teams earned spots in the Centennial Conference playoffs by virtue of their impressive regular seasons. The women blew through the Centennial Conference in the regular season, winning their first nine matches before falling Saturday to Johns Hopkins. Meanwhile, the men’s team earned the Conference’s number four seed.

The women’s team thoroughly dominated throughout much of the season, winning five of their ten Conference matches in shutout fashion, 9-0. The team will play host to Dickinson in Saturday’s semifinal.

Swarthmore had little trouble with the Red Devils the last time the two teams met, winning 9-0 on April 20. The Garnet won several close matches that day, especially in doubles play. Both the No. 1 doubles team of Emily Rosenblum ’13 and Lia Carlson ’14, and the No. 2 doubles team of Katie Samuelson ’14 and Brooke Wilkins ‘14 for the Garnet won their matches 8-6. Stephanie Chia ’13 and Epiphany English ’14 also earned a doubles victory, winning 8-4.

In singles play, Carlson, Rosenblum, Chia and Samuelson all won their matches, while Kelsey Johnson ’13 and Jackie Lane ’16 contributed victories as well. Johnson credited the team’s success in close matches to its commitment to supporting each other, saying that, “Our team has played very well under pressure and has supported each other during tough matches. Having three teammates cheering loudly behind your court can really make a difference”.

While Swarthmore’s season was highlighted by its nine game Conference winning streak, Johnson cited a nonconference win, against The College of New Jersey, as having “helped propel us through the rest of the season”. The win came on April 7 by a score of 5-4 over the then-undefeated Lions, and it instilled an attitude in the Garnet that no match could ever be out of reach. Swarthmore trailed 3-0 after doubles before rallying, winning its final four matches to stun TCNJ. Carlson, Rosenblum, Johnson, Chia and Gayatri Iyengar ’15 were victorious for the Garnet in a win that gave the team the confidence to compete against any opponent.

If Swarthmore wins its match on Saturday, it will likely travel to top-seeded Johns Hopkins for Sunday’s final. The Blue Jays handed Swarthmore its only loss of the season, by a score of 9-0, and the Garnet will look to pull the upset and advance on to the NCAA Tournament.

On the men’s side, Swarthmore battled through injuries and a tough Centennial Conference schedule, posting a 6-3 record. Swarthmore hosted fifth-seeded Ursinus on Wednesday, with the winner traveling to play top-seeded Johns Hopkins on Saturday. Malik Mubeen ’13 said that the team looks forward to the challenge of a rematch with the Blue Jays, saying, “we want to dominate our first round match against Ursinus so we can earn another shot at Johns Hopkins in the next match”.

Although Swarthmore fell, 7-2 to the Blue Jays the last time the teams met, on March 30, Mubeen said, “we’re a different team now than when we played Hopkins a few weeks ago, so we’re looking forward to another potential matchup with them”. Mubeen stressed consistency, saying that, “the main thing we need to improve on is making sure we play consistent, complete matches. We have had a few flashes of brilliance this year that we want to try to channel into the conference tournament”.

Swarthmore’s most recent win came April 24 over Washington College, by a score of 9-0. As usual, Mubeen and James Wieler ’13 led Swarthmore with multiple wins. Anthony Collard ‘14 and Max Sacks ‘15 also won both their singles and doubles matches, while Max Kaye ’14, Christian Carcione ’14, Preston Poon ’14 and Irving Stone ’15 were victorious as well.

In order to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, Swarthmore will need to win all three of its playoff matches. Wieler, however, was undaunted by the challenge, saying that, “we control our own destiny. Win and you’re in.” Wieler also stressed the importance of winning doubles matches, saying that doing so “provides a huge momentum boost going into singles”. Despite being the number four seed, Swarthmore remains confident; Wieler said that, “over the past two years, our team has proven that we can beat any team on any given day when we are playing at our best”.

 

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