Jays battle injuries in soccer regional

State Notebook


November 09, 2007|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN REPORTER

Max Venker is playing on a fractured ankle. Akash Naik has a stress fracture in his pelvis. Tim Markham has worked through broken bones in his foot and nose.

Then there's Ben McAbee, the only senior starter on Johns Hopkins' men's soccer team, who needed a rod inserted in his lower leg for a stress fracture and also had bone chips removed from his ankle.

The team that coach Matt Smith sends into tomorrow's NCAA Division III regional at Homewood Field has faced enough adversity to warrant its No. 1 seed. The bigger issue is whether the Blue Jays (17-3) can stay healthy enough long enough to advance deep into the tournament.

"We manage these [injuries] as a staff," Smith said. "They are eager to play. They're not going to let these things get in their way."

Venker, for instance, gives Smith 25 to 30 minutes a game as a wide midfielder. McAbee, an All-American a year ago, has played only two full games this year. In his absence, freshmen Scott Bukoski and David Drake lead the team with 19 and 14 goals, respectively.

The Blue Jays captured their seventh Centennial Conference title - and 11th NCAA tournament berth - by beating Gettysburg, 4-1, on Sunday. Their reward comes disguised as the toughest bracket in Division III.

If they beat DeSales (10-9-2) in tomorrow's 5 p.m. match, the Blue Jays will face the winner of the 7:30 game between Franklin & Marshall (15-3) and North Carolina Wesleyan (16-1) on Sunday. Wesleyan is ranked second in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, F&M No. 11 and Hopkins No. 18.

"The F&M-Wesleyan game could be a final four game," Smith said. "If we play our very best, we'll have a chance [to advance]."


Kristina Hernandez's first three years as Loyola's coach netted a modest 27 wins. This year, the Greyhounds are 20-11 and headed into the four-team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships in Fairfield, Conn., on Nov. 18-19.

They achieved their first 20-win season since 1992 behind sophomore setter Chrissey Cruz, who set a school single-season set assists record of 1,304, and freshman outside hitter Nina Camaioni, a four-time MAAC Rookie of the Week. Cruz is from Harlingen, Texas, and Camaioni from Williamstown, N.J.

UMES takes a 20-match winning streak - longest in the nation - to Hampton, Va., next Friday for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament. The Hawks, 10-0 in the regular season, are led by Christina Estebane', Whitney Johnson, Caylin Woodward, Karen Smith and Holiday Eller. ... Junior outside hitter Stacey Krebs of Salisbury was selected Player of the Year in the Capital Athletic Conference and sophomore libero Gabby Long joined her on the all-conference team. Krebs, who led Liberty High to two straight state titles, leads the CAC in kills (550) and kills per game (4.66). ... Morris Davis of St. Mary's was named the CAC's Coach of the Year after guiding the Seahawks to their first appearance in the conference championship game, a 3-1 loss to Salisbury.

Women's soccer

Hopkins lost to Virginia Wesleyan a year ago in the second round of the NCAA tournament on penalty kicks, 5-3, after a double-overtime 0-0 tie. The Blue Jays (14-4-2) will make their third straight NCAA appearance tomorrow at Richard Stockton, N.J., and the opponent will be Wesleyan (14-1-4) again.

Hopkins takes an unbeaten streak of nine games into the tournament opener. Sophomore goalkeeper Karen Guszkowski has seven of the team's 12 shutouts.

Cross country

Coppin State senior Anthony Littlejohn (Old Mill) earned All-MEAC honors for the fourth consecutive year by finishing fifth in the conference championships.

Littlejohn placed fourth, fifth and sixth twice to become the first Coppin runner to record four top-10 finishes.

Salisbury won its third straight CAC title and swept the men's postseason awards. Eric Graves was CAC Athlete of the Year, Chris Barnard was Rookie of the Year and Jim Jones was Coach of the Year.


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