Last updated: September 17. 2013 12:19AM - 2493 Views
BILL ARSENAULT For The Times Leader



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Brianna Ligotski was a strong performer with the University of Sciences in Philadelphia women’s cross country team last season as a freshman, but it appears that the sophomore has stepped up her efforts this season.


Ligotski (Holy Redeemer), the Devils’ top finisher in all seven meets last season, kicked off this season by competing in the Delaware Invitational and finished fifth among non-Division I runners and 39th out of 205 runners overall. Her 6k time was 24:25.45. She followed that up by finishing second in the Wilmington, Del., Invitational with a 5k time of 20:22.76. That was the top time ever by a Devil runner in the event.


“Brianna worked hard over the summer and her hard work shined with her effort at Delaware,” coach Bob Heller said. “She lowered her time from last year by over a minute.”


Heller likes the way Ligotski pushes herself and her teammates to work hard to improve.


“Bri is one of the top runners in our conference and will contend for the individual conference title,” Heller said. “I expect a lot of good things from her as the season progresses.”


Ligotski will be competing in the Metro Championship Saturday in Philadelphia.


DEGNAN STARTS FOR ORANGE – Freshman Serra Degnan (Wyoming Area) played a solid game coming off the bench in her first game with the Syracuse field hockey team. but the 5-foot-2 forward has started the last five games for the 6-0 Orange, who are ranked sixth in the nation.


“Serra has done an outstanding job,” coach Ange Bradley said. “She came in as one of our top freshmen and now she’s starting and playing almost 70 minutes a game.”


The coach was impressed with Degnan’s play in a 4-0 victory over Michigan State.


“Serra had a key defensive responsibility and, while she didn’t get the statistics to show it, she was a very integral part for us to get a shutout,” Bradley said.


The coach calls Degnan “a great player and a great athlete” and likes the fact that she played basketball and softball beside field hockey as a youngster.


“That makes Serra an all-around athlete, not just a manufactured hockey player,” Bradley said.


Syracuse opens Atlantic Coast Conference play at Boston College Friday.


PANTHERS NEED WIGNOT – The Pittsburgh women’s volleyball team is 7-3 despite the fact that junior standout Monica Wignot has played in just one match and four sets for the Panthers thus far this season because of an injury.


As a sophomore, Wignot (Holy Redeemer) was named to the Big East Conference second team and entered this season with 606 kills, 290 digs, 113 blocks and 72 service aces for her career.


“Monica was our top outside hitter after the spring season and we have big expectations for her this season,” coach Dan Fisher said. “She is a steady player in the back row and can really be a force at the net with both her blocking and attacking.”


The coach feels that Wignot “has to be smart” about her rehab so she can return to the lineup at 100 percent.


“That’s short term,” Fisher said. “In the long term we expect her to challenge for a starting spot as an outside or right side hitter.”


CANNON DOING THE JOB – Senior Erik Cannon (Dallas) is a key performer on defense for the Lafayette men’s soccer team. He’s started all six games for the Leopards, who have given up just four goals but have just one victory with five ties this season.


“Erik has developed into one of the top outside backs in the Patriot League,” coach Dennis Bohn said. “He is one of our most consistent players. He’s a strong defender who is also heavily involved in our attack.”


Cannon also does the job in the class room. A biology major, he’s been named to the Patriot All-Academic team his first three seasons.


“Erik is a tremendous student-athlete and an even better person,” Bohn said. “I am very proud of his patience and his progress throughout his career.”


SOWINSKI LEADS THE WAY – The Holy Cross women’s cross country team lists eight freshmen on the roster and coach Jim Kavanagh has called on Rachel Sowinski (Holy Redeemer) to be a leader in the group. She’s doing it on the course, finishing 16th in her first college race (18:28 for 5k) in a meet against New Hampshire and Providence and then she finished 13th out of 100 runners at the Nassaney Invitational in Smithfield, R.I., with a time of 18:47.7.


“Rachel has been all we hoped for when we recruited her and so much more,” Kavanagh said. “She loves to run and her enthusiasm is contagious. She’s made the transition to college running remarkably well.”


Kavanagh said that he’s talked to Sowinski about the team a number of times.


“Rachel knows we expect her to be a leader among the first year runners and she’s done a great job the first two races,” the coach said. “Our latest discussion was to talk about her challenging the veteran women in both workouts and races.”


The coach will see how the talks work out when Sowinski and her mates compete in the National Catholic Championships Friday at Notre Dame in South Bend.


DAVENPORT FITS RIGHT IN – Freshman Sauni Davenport (Wyoming Valley West) has started all seven games on defense for the 3-4 Hofstra field hockey team. In fact, she’s second on the team in minutes played.


“We had an opportunity to watch Sauni at various events for the past several seasons and we saw someone with so much potential,” coach Kathy DeAngelis said. “She came in well-prepared for preseason camp. She has great fitness and is one of the fastest players on our team.”


The coach feels that Davenport has done a lot of great things for the team in just seven games but feels that even better things are yet to come.


“I think Sauni will continue to get better,” DeAngelis said. “The sky is the limit for her and we are very excited to see how she will develop in the future.”


BROWN, LEE DOING THE JOB – Juniors Lindsay Brown and Courtney Lee have been solid performers in the early going for the Slippery Rock field hockey team – Brown on offense and Lee on defense.


Brown (Crestwood) leads the 2-2 team with four goals and three assists for 11 points. She entered the season having played in 37 games with 30 starts with seven goals and two assists her first two seasons.


“Lindsay is a captain and continues to be our veteran on the forward line,” coach Julie Swiney said.


Lee (Holy Redeemer) is sharing goalkeeping duties and is 2-1, giving up three goals with 14 saves.


“Courtney is using her experience to help guide a young defensive team,” Swiney said.


Lee entered the season with a 14-17 career record with three shutouts in the goal.


GOOD START FOR ANTALL —- Freshman Paige Antall (Hanover Area) kicked off her college career with the Chestnut Hill women’s cross country team. She finished 44th out of 117 runners with a 5k time of 22:30.95 at the Division II-III portion of the Fordham Fiasco at Van Cortlandt Park.


“Paige ran well in her first college meet, but we think she can run much faster as the season progresses,” coach Phil Reilly said. “Paige has handled the college training well. For women, the jump from high school isn’t as dramatic as with the men, but I think Paige will be fine when she is in a 6k race. She’s very passionate about the sport and is an extremely hard worker.”


Antall and her mates will compete in the Philadelphia Metro Championships this weekend.


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