Six SUNY Cortland teams begin 2017 seasons this weekend

Six of Cortland's nine fall sports team will start their 2017 seasons during the Sept. 1-3 weekend. Here's a brief look at those teams and the upcoming schedule.

The women's golf and men's and women's cross country teams begin action Sept. 9.

Men's Soccer

The Cortland men's soccer team enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history in 2016. The Red Dragons finished 19-3 to set a school record for wins and won their first SUNYAC title since 2008. Cortland won 14 straight games during one stretch before falling 1-0 in overtime to Franklin & Marshall in the Red Dragons' second NCAA "Sweet 16" appearance in three years.

Sixth-year head coach Steve Axtell's team will be anchored this fall by senior All-America goalie Connor Young, who led Division III nationally with a 0.33 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage and recorded 10 of Cortland's school-record 14 shutouts. Sophomore midfielder Miguel Tunas and senior defender Drew DeJohn each earned All-East honors, and sophomore defender Nevin Nambiar joined them on the All-SUNYAC team.

Cortland, ranked 13th in the United Soccer Coaches preseason national rankings, starts its season versus fourth-ranked and NCAA "Final Four" participant Brandeis in the opening round of the Hobart Tournament on September 2.

Women's Volleyball

With the arrival of new head coach Nicole Wentz, the Red Dragons look to improve on their 20-14 record from a year ago. Wentz comes to Cortland from Keystone College in Pennsylvania, where she led the Giants to a 21-10 record and the finals of the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) tournament in 2016.

Senior middle hitter Amanda May led Cortland last fall with 84 blocks and a .233 attack percentage and finished third on the squad with 190 kills. Senior sisters Courtney and Nicole Silberer were the team's kills leaders with 306 and 199, respectively, with Courtney second in both blocks (79) and attack percentage (.204). Outside hitter Janine Patora played in only nine matches during her junior season before suffering a season-ending injury. She averaged 2.4 kills per set during her limited action.

Cortland opens its season September 1-2 when its hosts the 33rd annual Cortland Red Dragon Classic. The Red Dragons begin play in the 12-team tournament by facing Alfred University and perennial national power Juniata College during Friday's action.

Women's Soccer

The Cortland women's soccer team, under the guidance of 14th-year head coach Heidi Axtell, begins its season with a non-league game at Moravian College in Pennsylvania on September 1. The Red Dragons finished 8-8 last fall and narrowly missed a berth into the SUNYAC playoffs after losing their final five games, four by one-goal margins.

Junior forward Amanda Profera earned All-SUNYAC recognition last season after leading Cortland with five goals and four assists for 14 points. Senior captain Natalie Ballato returns after starting 14 games on defense, while junior midfielders Brenna Conover and Vanessa Romero are both back after starting 16 and 15 games, respectively, during their sophomore seasons.

Field Hockey

Second-year head coach and Marathon native Tiffany Hubbard looks to lead Cortland's field hockey squad to another strong season in 2017. The Red Dragons finished 14-4 last fall and won the SUNYAC regular-season title before falling in overtime in the conference tournament semifinals. Cortland opens the season at the Smith College Tournament in Massachusetts September 2-3.

Cortland returns two all-region performers in junior forward Jessica Welsh and junior goalie Kailynne Reinoehl. Welsh recorded 15 goals and 11 assists for 41 points to rank second on the team in all three categories, while Reinoehl finished with a 0.89 goals-against average and .871 save percentage. Senior back Meg Redmond earned All-SUNYAC honors while totaling four goals and five assists, and will serve as a team captain along with forward Anna Branch and midfielder Megan O'Brien.

Women's Tennis

The Cortland women's tennis team finished 5-5 in dual matches and tied for fifth place at the SUNYAC tournament with a 1-1 record during its 2016 fall season. Led by 12th-year head coach Tom Spanbauer, the Red Dragons start their 2017 campaign by hosting Fredonia on September 2.

Juniors Mia Hayes and Nikaylah Williams return as the Red Dragons' top two players for the third straight season. Hayes posted a 4-3 record at first singles (6-6 overall) last fall, while Williams earned second team All-SUNYAC honors after going 5-1 at second singles (5-2 overall). The tandem also played as Cortland's first doubles team.


Cortland opens its season by hosting Augustana College of Illinois on September 2 in the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Game Notes

Weekend Schedule (Home Games in CAPS)

Friday, September 1
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL vs. Alfred, 3 p.m. (Cortland Red Dragon Classic)
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL vs. Juniata (PA), 5 p.m. (Cortland Red Dragon Classic)
Women's Soccer at Moravian (PA), 7 p.m.

Saturday, September 2
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL vs. Rochester, 11 a.m. (Cortland Red Dragon Classic)
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL vs. Utica, 4 p.m. (Cortland Red Dragon Classic)
FOOTBALL vs. Augustana (IL), 12 p.m.
WOMEN'S TENNIS vs. Fredonia, 12:30 p.m.
Men's Soccer vs. Brandeis (MA), 2:30 p.m. (Hobart Tournament)
Field Hockey vs. Maine Farmington, 3 p.m. (Smith Tournament)

Sunday, September 3
Women's Soccer at Rutgers-Newark (NJ), 1 p.m.
Men's Soccer vs. Eastern Connecticut St., 1 p.m. (Hobart Tournament)
Field Hockey vs. Smith (MA) or Plymouth St. (NH), 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. (Smith Tournament)