Blogs and Commentary

posted 03.11.2013 at 10.01 a.m. by Jac Coyne

NCAA Division III Notebook

Coaches spend all preseason figuring out exactly how they want to approach the season and finding the players they want to lean on to perform. When the realization comes after the start of the season that changes have to be made, it's not an easy process.

It wasn't for Nazareth head coach Rob Randall.

Three quarters into the season against No. 2 Stevenson, Randall pulled goalie Tim Doyle, who had been a three-year starter for the Flyers, and inserted Scott Brown, a rookie out of Naperville, Ill. Brown finished with three saves in 16 minutes of action, including a stunner against Stevenson rifleman Mark Pannenton, as Nazareth outscored the Mustangs, 4-3, in the final quarter of a 17-11 loss.

Brown has played nearly every minute since, including backstopping wins over then-No. 14 Springfield (14 saves), a underrated Clarkson squad (15) and Sunday's 12-9 win over No. 19 St. Lawrence (7).

"Making a switch in goal is always a sticky situation, especially when you have an older guy who has been your guy for a couple of years," Randall said. "But Tim has handled it really well. He's a great kid. And who knows what will happen down the road. You can't really predict the future, but we hope Scott continues to do well."

Randall also had to deal with another 'sticky' situation. After going all the way through the fall and preseason as a short-stick defensive midfielder, Mark Pinski was pulled aside recently. His short stick was traded out for the long pole of a close defender, and Pinski has started the last three games for the Flyers.

"He did well on a great attackman from Clarkson," Randall said. "We've changed up the personnel and are playing more guys to give them a chance to rest. We're still trying to feel ourselves out, but we're not sure exactly who belongs on the field just yet."

Nazareth is sitting at 3-2 right now, but the Flyers still remember a game they feel got away from them. Naz had a 9-8 lead over Geneseo midway through the fourth quarter, but the Knights rallied for a 10-9 triumph. If they win that game, the Flyers are 4-1 and possibly ranked this week.

"We stubbed our toe against Geneseo," admitted Randall. "That's always in the back of our minds. The kids wanted to come out and prove something against Clarkson. We'll just have to keep doing it. We want to put the kids in as competitive and challenging situations as we can. That's how we think we get better."

The Flyers play Roger Williams and No. 13 Western New England as part of a Coaches vs. Cancer event Nazareth is hosting along with RIT and St. John Fisher. A Roc-City battle with RIT looms in a couple of weeks. The challenges abound for the Flyers, but Randall is pleased with where his team is at.

"I've liked a lot of stuff, to be honest with you," he said. "We're generating a lot of offense and we're generating a lot of shots, but unfortunately our shooting percentage isn't great, but we want to keep shooting. We like what we're doing on faceoffs. Drew Simoneau has done a really good job of getting the balls to us and giving us opportunities. There are a lot of things that I like."

Sometimes change is good.

- It was a fascinating start to the NESCAC season, as usual. The winners? Colby taking down Amherst in overtime and Conn. College posting a huge road win over No. 15 Bowdoin. Also, Wesleyan went 2-0 with a narrow win over Williams and a comfortable victory over Hamilton. The losers? Amherst, which lost in overtime to both the White Mules and then again to Bates on Sunday. Also No. 5 Tufts, which will be playing the first two games of the season without the bulk of its roster due to an offseason incident, couldn't find an answer for Hamilton in its opener, bowing, 10-9.

- Eastern's win over Whittier mid-week establishes the Eagles as the top gun in the Pool B race to date. There are five bids given out in the Beta Pool this year and there is still plenty to be hashed out over the next month, but Eastern appears to be a shoe-in at this point. Whittier isn't far behind, and Christopher Newport is also looking good. Colorado College, King's and Ferrum are also in the discussion. With the remaining games, there is bound to be others (Greensboro? Birmingham-Southern? Sewanee?) who spring up along the way. Eastern's next big test is on Friday afternoon when they host No. 14 Gettysburg.

- How about Pool C? It's kind of crazy to start hypothesizing about at-larges when the NESCAC — which is usually a Pool C hog — just started up, but we already know the margin between those that make it and those that don't will be razor thin. The Centennial looks good for two and the ODAC appears to have at least one at this point. You can pretty much pencil in the NESCAC for two, which accounts for all five available. The only other conference that could make things interesting is the Liberty, which appears to be relatively wide open.

- It was Colby's Ian Deveau who scored a hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime, against Amherst, but it was John Jennings who kept the White Mules in the mix with five goals in the 11-10 win...Merrill Charette had seven goals for Rhodes in a 14-6 victory over Wilmington (Ohio). It was the third straight win for the Lynx...rough week for Adrian. The Bulldogs lost to St. Lawrence midweek and then stumbled against Oswego on Saturday, 10-8. Fortunately, the MIAA AQ is in the bag...Ursinus is 3-0 heading into a test against Montclair State...Alfred is now 4-0 after beating La Roche...Middlebury beat Bates, 10-8, but were outshot 47-29. Goalie Nate Gaudio made 17 saves to preserve the win for the Panthers.

- Congrats to Mount Union for picking up its first program victory, a 13-8 triumph over Thiel...same for Arcadia, which beat Penn State-Abington, 19-3, on Wednesday...Hanover set six school records in the 24-2 win over Bethany...senior Andrew Freedman scored three goals and set up four others in No. 18 Conn. College's 13-12 victory over No. 15 Bowdoin...Garrett Paglia returned to the W&L line-up after missing the WAC game. He had a goal and an assist in the Generals' 11-9 win over F&M...Malik Pedroso with four goals and five dimes in Lebanon Valley's 14-3 win over Immaculata...UMass-Dartmouth out to a 3-0 start...Trinity's Nick Shaheen scored four goals, including the decider in overtime against Skidmore...Congrats to Houghton as the Highlanders picked up their first win in program history, a 12-11 win over Hiram...Tyler Reid scored five goals and set up a sixth in Stevenson's 17-7 win over Goucher.