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RCC Men's Soccer, Men's & Women's Cross Country Prepare for Post-Season

RCC Men's Soccer, Men's & Women's Cross Country Prepare for Post-Season

RCC's Men's and Women's Cross Country team (top) and soccer players Ali Ali (left) and Matthew Blair (right).

Soccer squad seeks to make impact at Regionals, XC teams faring well in inaugural season

October 15, 2018

RAMAPO, N.Y. – Rockland Community College's men's soccer team is striving to finish the regular season on a high note heading into the post-season playoffs, while the newly formed men's and women's cross country teams are enjoying their initial foray into intercollegiate competition.

The men's soccer team is working hard to integrate third-year coach Danny Samimi's system into its style of play. The Hawks have charted a record of 4-6-1 as of October 13 and are rounding into form as the Mid-Hudson Conference championship looms on October 16 and the Regional playoffs begin on October 20. The team suffered a setback before the season even started with the loss of five to six players due to NCAA eligibility issues. “That was the biggest hurdle I had,” said Samimi. “They were all very good players.” The Hawks lost their first three games as they built their conditioning and game-readiness, before scoring victories over Dutchess and Bergen.

Spearheading RCC's squad is sophomore Matthew Blair, a standout defender who hails from Florida. Blair's stellar play earned him RCC Athlete of the Week recognition the week of September 17. He has been supported by solid midfield play from sophomore Peter “P.J.” Mongan of Monroe, N.Y., and steady performances from a pair of Ramapo HS graduates, defender Rockine Henry and midfielder Ali Ali. The Hawks' best Regional showing under Samimi was a semifinal appearance in 2016, a level they aspire to reach again this season.

The men's and women's cross country teams have set a goal of individual improvement over team success in their first year of competition. Coach Mike Murphy's harriers are bettering their times each meet and have come a long way since the start of the season. They have competed in the Queensborough Invitational at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, Bard Invitational in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., Mount St. Mary's Invitational at the Hudson Valley Sports Dome in Milton, N.Y., NJIT Highlander Invitational at Branch Brook Park in Newark, N.J., and the St. Joseph's Invitational at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, N.Y.

In the Highlander meet, freshman Patrick Bednarski, a Suffern HS grad, paced the Hawks with a time of 34:50 for the 8K (4.96-mile) course, good for 160th place out of 239 finishers. Other scorers for RCC included Vladimir Charles-Pierre, a sophomore from Haiti (192nd, 38:31), and fellow second-year student-athletes John Pimentel of Chester, N.Y.; Jamie Melendez of Pelham, N.Y., a Purchase College transfer; and Jonathan Rose, also of Chester. The women's team, which has insufficient numbers to post a team score, was led by Chrysi Koulianou, an international student from Greece, who finished 161st of 227 runners in 25:49 for a 5K (3.1-mile) course.

Murphy previously coached the men's and women's cross country teams at the Culinary Institute of America for seven years. When he arrived at RCC two-and-a-half years ago, he broached the idea of starting a program with Athletic Director Dan Keeley. “He said, 'If you can get a team up and running, go for it,' and that's what I did,” said Murphy. “I told the team, 'Don't worry about the other teams. If you can improve from week to week and have fun, that's more important.'” The Hawks are tailoring their training to peak at the Regional championship meet October 27 at the Hudson Valley Sports Dome.


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