The University of North Carolina field hockey team held Senior Day last Sunday in Chapel Hill, but the season is far from over for the Tar Heels and senior standout Kelsey Kolojejchick.
Kolojejchick, from Larksville (Wyoming Seminary), is wrapping up a sensational career. She has been named All-American for three straight seasons and is a shoo-in for four straight when those honors are announced next month. She would be the first player in North Carolina history to accomplish that feat.
And, the 5-foot-3 forward and the Tar Heels are shooting for another NCAA championship. They were champions in Kolojejchick's freshman year, but were runners-up the past two years. They are ranked No. 1 in the country this season and take an 18-1 record into the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament this weekend. North Carolina won the ACC regular-season title with a 5-0 record and is the top seed in the tourney.
I hope to finish this season as an ACC and national champion, Kolojejchick said. And, I'd love to be the first player at UNC to be a four-time All-American. Finally, I would love to be the national Player of the Year and win the Honda Award. But my main ultimate goal is to get a (NCAA) ring.
Kolojejchick leads the team in scoring with 48 points. She's second on the team in goals (14) and leads in assists (20). She has had three game-winners and had two goals and an assist in a 6-1 Senior Day non-league victory over Radford.
Kelsey has been outstanding throughout her career, coach Karen Shelton said. She was an All-American as a freshman but she has grown so much since then, maturing as a player and a person.
Besides her scoring, Kolojejchick provides great leadership for the team, according to Shelton.
The whole team looks to her as someone who plays hard all the time and she has a competitive streak that's crucial to our success. I can't say enough about what a great player she has been and I'm so glad her career isn't over yet.
Heading into the ACC tourney, Kolojejchick stands fifth in career goals with 67 and just one goal shy of moving into fourth place. And, she's third in career assists (45) and career points (179).
REXER LEARNING THE GAME – The St. Francis, Pa., women's soccer team captured the Northeast Conference regular-season championship with a 10-0 record and is 13-4-2 overall. And, one of the key players off the bench for the Red Flash is freshman Hallie Rexer.
Rexer (Holy Redeemer) has played in 14 games and has two goals and an assist. She scored in victories over Mount St. Mary's (3-0) and Robert Morris (4-1).
Hallie is working her way through her freshman year, coach Brenda van Stralen said. She's learning about our midfield system and adjusting to our style of play. She is a hard worker and the more she trains in this environment the better she will become.
The coach said that Rexer is very aggressive going to goal and has a tremendous work ethic.
As Hallie develops, she will make an even bigger impact on our team, van Stralen said.
The Red Flash will host the NEC playoffs Saturday and Sunday in Loretto.
ROCCOGRANDI STARTING – Despite being a freshman, Jim Roccograndi (Dallas) is starting at linebacker for the Ursinus football team.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder is second on the team in tackles (30-11-41) and has a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He had a game-high 10 tackles in last Saturday's 35-17 loss to nationally-ranked and unbeaten Johns Hopkins, who captured the Centennial Conference title with the victory.
Jim has done a fantastic job starting as a freshman in a key position for us, coach Peter Gallagher said. He has continued to improve every week and is playing at a very high level. The combination of his speed and instincts will enable him to become one of the league's premier players.
The Bears (5-3 overall and 4-3 in league play) are at Muhlenberg on Saturday.
AIGELDINGER STARTING, TOO – Nick Aigeldinger is a freshman and he's starting for the Susquehanna football team.
Aigeldinger (Crestwood) came up with a big play in the Crusaders' 24-17 victory over Franklin & Marshall when he returned an interception 28 yards for a touchdown in the final quarter. He also had seven tackles in the game.
On the season, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound defensive back has 28 tackles, two for losses, two interceptions and three pass breakups.
Nick has started every game since we moved him from quarterback in Week 1, coach Steve Briggs said. He is very athletic and extremely coachable. He has a great future ahead of him because, in my time here, we have had only two guys that started every game for four years. That is tough to do.
Briggs likes Aigeldinger's background.
Nick comes from good stock, believe me, the coach said. He had a great career at Crestwood and I know what he meant to the coaches there. He's a quality kid in every sense of the word.
SHINER HELPING DUCKS – Freshman Samantha Shiner (Wyoming Area) has seen action in 14 games – with five starts – for a strong Stevens Tech field hockey team.
The 5-foot-3 midfielder scored her first collegiate goal in a 4-3 triumph over Nazareth and was in the starting lineup when the Ducks blanked Elmira 3-0 to wrap up the regular season with a 12-6 overall record and a 7-0 mark in the Empire 8 Conference.
Sam has made tremendous strides this season in all aspects of her game, coach Emily Beach said. She came in with a strong freshman class and has earned herself a starting role in the last few games.
The coach believes Shiner will play a big role for Stevens in the future.
Sam's speed, work rate and fearlessness will take her far on the college level, Beach said. She has already worked her way into a role on defensive penalty corners and will be a big scoring threat down the road.
The Ducks host the Empire 8 playoffs Saturday and Sunday in Hoboken, N.J.
SIEGEL'S A SURPRISE – West Chester track coach Andrew Huber figured that freshman Jake Siegel would be a solid performer during the indoor and outdoor season.
But Siegel (Tunkhannock) has done a solid job for the Golden Rams during the cross country season this fall.
Jake has been a big surprise this season, Huber said. I was expecting him to be in the background this season and maybe for the entire first year before he got up to speed.
Siegel graduated from high school early and spent the summer hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail with his brother. But he did almost no summer running training.
Despite a minor injury at the end of preseason, Jake has come on much stronger than I could have even hoped for, Huber said. He has been in our top seven in every meet.
Siegel finished 65th (27:16 for 8K) in his first PSAC championship recently.
We lose possibly five of the 10 guys on our roster to graduation, so I'm looking for Jake to step up his training and assume more of a leadership role next year, Huber said.
GOOD MOVE FOR SCHWERDTMAN -- Sophomore Kourtny Schwerdtman saw action as a goalkeeper for the Elmira field hockey team last season, but this season coach Katie Augustine-Moore moved her to a defensive position.
Schwerdtman (Wyoming Area) has played in 13 games and started 12 at her new position. She even got a chance in the goal because of an injury, giving up three goals with three saves in a 3-0 loss to Oswego.
Kourtny is like a new person this season, Augustine-Moore said. She has solidified her spot on defense through hard work and her knowledge of the game. She is very coachable, always listens and takes criticism well.
The coach calls Schwerdtman a team player.
Kourtny works hard no matter where we put her on the field and she always keeps a positive outlook, Augustine-Moore said.
The Soaring Eagles finished 5-9 overall and 1-5 in the Empire 8 Conference.
ZEILER OFF AND RUNNING – Freshman Stephanie Zeiler (Lake-Lehman) was a member of the Pitt-Greensburg women's cross country team this fall.
Her best effort was a fifth-place finish (27:06 for 5K) at the Penn State Greater Allegheny Invitational. She ran either No. 6 or No. 7 for the Bobcats most of the season.
For a kid who never ran cross country, Stephanie transitioned into it nicely, coach Joyce Brobeck said. She showed a lot of guts all season long. With the upcoming off-season and consistent running, I'm expecting Steph to be ready for next year. She's a wonderful young lady.
Bill Arsenault covers local athletes competing on the collegiate level for The Times Leader.