Clark Athletics and NEWMAC Weekly Round-Up (2/20/23-2/27/23)


Greetings to Clark sports fans far and wide, welcome to the latest cougar round-up. This week we will cover the conclusion to the men’s basketball playoff run and the burgeoning spring athletics season. 

This Week’s Competitions 

The first athletics showdown last week took place on a special Tuesday night as the men’s basketball team traveled to Norton, Mass. for a date with Wheaton. This introductory match of the playoffs saw our fifth-seeded Cougz take on the four-seed Wheaton Lyons; by the end of an invigorating game the scoreboard tallied 73-71 in favor of the Cougars.

This NEWMAC quarterfinals win was the first playoff victory for Clark since 2010 – when the team beat Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the conference finals. Clark’s victory moved the team onwards, where they will face number one seed Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the second round of the playoffs. More on this game to come. 

Wednesday, Feb. 22 saw both lacrosse teams compete in road matches. The women’s team traveled to the University of Hartford, falling 21-6. Elizabeth Liakos and Kiley Simmons each had three points in the game. The former scored twice and assisted once, while the latter assisted on two goals and scored one. The men’s squad visited Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, returning home after a 17-2 loss. 

On Thursday, Feb. 23 the men’s basketball team faced crosstown rival WPI in the NEWMAC semis, with a trip to the finals on the line. Despite giving it their all and playing outstandingly, the Cougz could not quite keep pace with a dominant WPI team. Clark led by eight points with around 10 minutes to play in the second half, but WPI went on a 13-0 run that the Cougars were never able to recover from. 

By the end of the match the score was 72-56, however the scoreline alone does not reveal how close Clark kept the score for a majority of the game. Clark fans packed the house, seeming to outnumber home fans. Alongside this, the Cougz’ strong scrappy play kept the WPI fan section silent for a large section of the second half out of fear of a truly Davidian upset. 

Though that upset did not become a reality on this Thursday night playoff matchup, Clark definitely has the right team assembled for the future to beat WPI. With the Cougars holding a strong rotation of returning players, this team will only improve in the coming season.

The next, and final, competition for last week came on Sunday, Feb. 26 as the men’s lax unit hosted Nichols College. Clark played well in a close match, but eventually lost 6-8 in the end. Two standouts from the competition were Benjamin Hollerbach and Matt Wells. Hollerback scored a hat trick and picked up an assist for a grand total of four points on the day. Wells also accumulated four points, with the sophomore scoring two goals and assisting on two more. 

There was a double header against Elms College scheduled for Sunday as well, however it had to be postponed due to inclement weather. That concludes our recap of last week, meaning it is now time to honor this week’s award recipients. 

Weekly Accolades

Prior to this week’s athlete and game of the week awards, a quick mention should be given to all of the NEWMAC basketball academic all-conference honorees. Julia Beebe, Jacqueline Faulise, Mariah Harris, Julianne Liebow, Cam Richey, Alaina Schatzabel and Jalin Waters for the women’s team. As for the men’s side, Kekoa McArdle, Mikey O’Brien, Donovan Price and Jordan Richard all received the honor. Congratulations to these athletes on and off the court!

Moving on to athlete of the week, men’s basketball leader Mikey O’Brien takes home this week’s trophy. O’Brien is a junior from New York, NY. The guard averaged 13 points per game in Clark’s two playoff matches this week. The management major scored a team high 13 in Clark’s loss against WPI – doing so on a highly efficient 6-8 from the field. O’Brien also averaged six boards per game this past week, showing the multifaceted talent of the 6’3” guard. Overall, Mikey O’Brien led the Cougz this week through both powerful on-court play and emotional captaincy.

Moving on to the game of the week: there’s no doubt this honor goes to Clark’s monumental win over Wheaton College in the first round of the NEWMAC playoffs. Clark was down by as many as 13 points with under 10 minutes to play in the match, yet the Cougars did not concede. The Cougz would play masterfully for the remaining nine minutes of the game, coming back and eventually grabbing the lead – a lead the team would not give up for the remainder of the game. 

Top performers for the Cougz included Kekoa McArdle, who had a team-leading 14 points and nine rebounds, and Ian Calabrese with 12 points on a clinical 3-6 from beyond the arc. Mikey O’Brien and Bruce Saintilus also both scored double digit points, putting up 13 and 12 respectively. 

This win was the first playoff victory for the team in over a decade, an achievement reminiscent of the historic run made by Clark’s women’s soccer team last fall. After losing to Wheaton in both regular season matchups, many may have made the mistake of writing Clark off as an easy first round exit. This victory proved them wrong, demonstrating the Cougars’ toughness, resilience and determination – undoubtedly earning the men’s basketball team this week’s game of the week award. 

Around the NEWMAC

Broadening our scope to the NEWMAC as a whole, there are two games from the past week that should be expanded upon. First, on Saturday, Feb. 25 the three seed Babson Beavers took on the one seed WPI Engineers at their home court in the men’s basketball conference championship. 

WPI entered the match as the obvious favorite, losing only one conference game all season, but Babson ignored the noise, winning 59 to 53. Nature’s engineers upset humanity’s engineers – WPI attempted to come back from a 10 point halftime hole but ultimately were unable to overcome their opponent’s onslaught. Babson’s Nate Amado had a game high 17 points, leading the Beavers to victory. 

This was Babson’s first NEWMAC title since 2016, granting them entry to the division three national championship tournament. As for the Beaver’s opponent, WPI failed to qualify for the national tournament despite being nationally ranked for most of the season. 

The women’s final in NEWMAC basketball was held one day later on Sunday, Feb. 26. Number one Smith College hosted the second seed Babson College. The Beavers were not able to capture victory over the one seed as their counterparts did the day prior, falling to the titanic Pioneers 67 to 52. Smith continues a dominant run with this championship win, capturing the team’s third-straight NEWMAC title. Babson’s Kelly Walsh scored a game high 21 points in spite of the Beavers’ loss. 

Looking Ahead

As for the next week in Clark sports, a baseball game on Tuesday, Feb. 28 against Fitchburg State University has been postponed, again due to poor weather. On the first day of March, baseball is scheduled to host Colby-Sawyer in the afternoon and women’s lax is set to host Massachusetts Maritime Academy for a nighttime game. 

There are no scheduled games until Sunday, March 5, where the baseball team will face Waynesburg (PA) University in Orlando, FL. The softball team is also set to play on Sunday, March 5, opening their season with games against Pitt.-Bradford and Alverno College in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic in Naples, FL. 

Finally, for next week, on Monday, March 6, Clark’s softball squad will take on John Carroll and SUNY Potsdam and the baseball team will face Thomas College (Maine). 

That just about does it for this week’s Clark Athletics and NEWMAC recap. The last seven days saw some action packed competitions and great individual performances. The Baseball team and softball team will both be busy in Florida within the next week. Until then however, it has been a pleasure, and as always, roll Cougz!