Bears are back with their full attack as the MASCAC is wide open

Brendan Coughlin
Sports Editor

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Not many knew what to make of this year’s Bridgewater State University basketball team. A team that had reached the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) championship game a year ago, but would be without the entire core that brought them that far.

Right before the season began, the Bears learned that they would be without their lone senior Tyler Demelo, who would decide to redshirt his senior season following an ankle injury in the preseason. On top of that, BSU graduated its top four scorers including Michael Lofton, who finished as sixth all-time on the school scoring list with 1,504 points in his four seasons with the Bears. Kyle Gibson, Justin Clark, and Barrett Murphy made up the rest of the starting five from a season ago, and have all since graduated from the school.

“Demelo would have added to our depth,” said head coach Joe Farroba. “At one time this year, we were struggling. A lot of the guys out there had played the year before, but we did not have a single starter returning.”

As the season got under way, the going got even rougher for BSU. Starting forward, Joseph Carty missed five league games due to injuries. The sophomore transfer was selected to the all-MASCAC second team, after averaging 12.1 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Starting center, Conor Dunleavy was out for a good chunk of December and January due to injury. The junior’s 6-foot-8 presence is key to what Bridgewater wants to do on both sides of the ball. Fellow starter, Greg Romanko missed games during the season, as well.

“The only difference you see is guys that were getting 5-7 minutes a game, are now seeing 27-29 minutes,” said coach Farroba. “We recruit these younger players to come in and win, and with the adversities we faced as a team, those guys started to get real meaningful minutes.”

The starting backcourt for the Bears includes a pair of juniors that remained healthy throughout the 2015-16 campaign, and were the heart of the team. Fawaz Mass was named to the all-MASCAC first team following his junior campaign in which he finished fifth in the conference in scoring, averaging 15.3 ppg. Helping Mass with the majority of the ball-handling was Rocky DeAndrade. DeAndrade led BSU in both steals (1.4) and assists (3.0), while averaging 10 ppg.

“We want to stick with what we do best,” said Farroba. “Tradition never graduates. We worked hard to establish ourselves as a reputable program.”

At the conclusion of the regular season, the team sat at 13-12 overall, and 8-4 in the MASCAC (one game out of first place tie with Salem St. and Fitchburg St.).

As the postseason is now under way, BSU is in a good place. Following all the setbacks before and during the season, the team is now as healthy as possible.

Bridgewater’s first obstacle on the way to the MASCAC championship game was Framingham State (2-10 in the MASCAC). The Bears let the underdog Rams stick around until late in the second half of the quarterfinal matchup.

In a game that featured the two lowest-scoring teams and the two teams allowing the least amount of points in the MASCAC, BSU prevailed in the final minutes and took the game, 60-51.

“We took advantage of home court and remembered that defense is key,” said Farroba. “[We have] one of the better defensive teams in the league. At times, it is what has bailed us out.”

With a squad that has been as resilient as this year’s Bears team, coupled with a wide open conference, anything can happen in the postseason.

Next up is a trip to Salem St. for the Bears. The MASCAC semifinal matchup will be at the Twohig Gymnasium, tipping off at 7 p.m.

Brendan Coughlin is the Sports Editor for The Comment.

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Bears of the Week 2/25

Men’s

  • Jameson Rose, Freshman – Swimming

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Rose earned a trip to the ECAC Division III Championships for three different events. He set the school record in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:54.01, while also breaking the 100 backstroke school record (53.12). The freshman earned all-NEISDA three days in a row from Feb. 12-14, twice for the backstroke and for the 100 individual medley.

Women’s

  • Jayci Andrews, Freshman – Track

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The freshman has been named MASCAC Women’s Indoor Track & Field Rookie of the Week for the third straight week and for the fifth team this winter.  At the Division III New England Championships, Andrews took eighth place in the long jump, ran a leg of the eighth place 4×400-meter relay team, and finished tenth in the 60-meter hurdles.

Future of BSU wrestling in good hands with freshman Nuttall

Thomas Goodale
Staff Writer

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Passion is one of the most powerful driving forces of a person, and Bridgewater State University’s own Dylan Nuttall has tapped into that passion.

A freshman at 125 pounds, Nuttall stands strong among a wavering BSU wrestling team, standing at 0-5 in the Pilgrim Wrestling League, and 3-13 overall. Nuttall’s perseverance and dedication has earned him great recognition as the number-six ranked wrestler in the New England Wrestling Association, supported by his excellent 73 percent winning percentage this season.

“It feels great to represent BSU, being the only guy ranked in the top six but rankings don’t really mean anything,” said Nuttall, referencing that there’s still a lot of work to be done. “Anything can happen in the postseason.”

After hearing what Nuttall had to say, it comes as no surprise that he is one of top ranked wrestlers in New England. His work ethic is exceptional, and he’s always pushing to get to the next level. He’s not afraid to get out of his comfort zone; his hometown is in Pennsylvania, so he came out a long way just to come to Bridgewater State.

“You push yourself to limits you’d never think you’d be able to go,” said Nuttall when describing the kind of hard work the wrestling team goes through. “Us wrestlers have to deal with the hard gritty practices at least 5 days of the week. Plus the multiple workouts each of us get on our own whether it’s lifting or doing some sort of cardio to lose some extra weight.”

Nuttall’s work ethic has been recognized this season, being named the NEWA Rookie Wrestler of the Week for the week of November 25th, 2015. He’s not the type to brag, however. When asked about his success as a freshman coming in, all he had to say was, “I’ve been putting in a lot of work throughout the years and it’s finally somewhat paying off.”

This is a man with a goal on his mind, and that goal is to keep working harder and harder every practice, every match, every season, every year. Ranked sixth overall? Push for fifth. Won rookie of the week? Win it again next week. That’s the kind of mindset Nuttall has, and that’s the kind of mindset that drives him towards great success.

“The grind does many things. It beats you up, knocks you down but the best part of the grind is it picks you up. When you feel like you can’t push yourself anymore the grind has your back, pushing you through defeat. The grind doesn’t allow you to quit and that’s what’s the best about the grind in wrestling.”

This is the kind of future Bridgewater State University’s wrestling team has. Dylan Nuttall is just a freshman, and he’s already got the mindset of a leader and a winner. The team may be 3-13 this season, but the grind will put them back on top.

Like Nuttall said, anything can happen in the postseason. This Saturday February 27th, at 10 a.m. BSU will travel to Springfield College as the NCAA Division III Regional Tournament begins. Back to square one. Ranked #6, #1 or #50, Dylan Nuttall has one thing set on his mind.

“Grind.”

Thomas Goodale is a Staff Writer for The Comment.

BSU football still bowl game eligible after frustrating loss

Brendan Coughlin
Sports Editor

Omere_FraminghamA few of the key factors for Bridgewater’s defense, Emmanuel Omere (#26), Elvis Romero (#57), Andrew Frigault (#45), line up during Saturday’s loss to Framingham.


The scene was set for the top two teams of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Saturday afternoon with Framingham State University  traveling to Bridgewater to take on Bridgewater State University (BSU) at Swenson Field.

BSU took a 10-7 lead into halftime against a Framingham team that was averaging 39.1 points per contest in 2015.

The first half was highlighted by a downfield strike into the endzone by the Bear’s junior quarterback Danny Higgins, landing in the hands of sophomore Brandon Giles for a 31-yard touchdown.

“We played with high energy and effort all game, but in that first half we probably played with more energy or passion than we have all year,” said Head Coach Charles Denune.

The third quarter was all Framingham as they outscored the Bears 17-0, taking over the lead. An early second half touchdown occurred when senior quarterback Matt Silva slang one of his three touchdowns on the day to senior Tevin Jones.

During that third quarter, BSU had a couple of should-be interceptions fall right through their hands as well as a string of three straight offensive possessions ending with a three-and-out.

Senior wideout Mike Viola shined on the afternoon railing in six catches for 109 yards, bringing him to 1,073 receiving yards in his BSU career. Viola is only the 12th player in BSU history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards.

A controversial no-call came in that third quarter as Viola was shoved by a Ram defender right in front of the Bears sideline well before the ball was touched.

If the pass interference were called, BSU would have had possession near midfield. Instead, they punted the ball away to speedy Framingham return man, Quron Wright, who returned the ball all the way to the Framingham 8-yard line.

On their first offensive play, Silva connected with running back Jalen Green for a score to extend the lead to 21-10.

“There were a couple of calls that were very questionable,” said Coach Denune. “From a coaching perspective, it doesn’t do too much to complain about it. It’s (the player’s) job to play the game, our job to coach the game, and the ref’s job to ref the game.”

Sean Wlusak, Framingham’s place kicker, connected from 28 yards before the end of the third and again from 20 yards early in the fourth to bring the score to 27-10.

With the MASCAC championship hopes dwindling, Higgins found Viola on a deep route which Viola turned into a 71-yard touchdown, accounting for the only BSU points in the second half.

Senior linebacker A.J. Pascuzzo highlighted the Bears defense with his six tackles, two for a loss (four solos) and three pass breakups. Sophomore linebacker Andrew Frigault added pressure to the Rams offense all day and ended the game with a team-high eight tackles (four solo).

“It’s fair to say we gave them their toughest challenge of the year,” said Denune. “At the same time I feel like the gap is closing. Framingham has been the top dog in the conference for the last five years or so.”

“There’s been years when I walked off the field (after playing Framingham) and thought to myself it doesn’t matter how many times we play that game, they’re probably going to win,” added Denune. “That wasn’t the feeling this year. We’re heading in the right direction.”

The 27-17 loss to Framingham St. solidifies the Rams as the MASCAC champions, but does not quite eliminate BSU from postseason play.

BSU will travel to Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Saturday, Nov. 10 for the annual Cranberry Bowl between the two teams with the winner taking home the “Cranberry Scoop” trophy.

Bridgewater has won eight of the last 10 meetings with the Buccaneers, but will not forget what happened to them on their own field a year ago, following a 31-21 defeat at the hands of Mass Maritime.

“They made a pretty big deal, throwing a big party for a celebration afterwards and it stuck with us all year,” said Denune. “I think anyone that was on the roster last year remembers the feeling after that game, and the kind of disrespect that was shown towards us. I don’t think it’s going to be hard to motivate these guys.”

Revenge is clearly on the mind with this upcoming matchup which assures to be an emotional contest.

The Bears are one of 22 teams that can finish with a 7-3 record, vying for one of the twelve spots in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship Bowl Games hosted by Central Connecticut State University.

Those Championship bowl games will be determined Monday, Nov. 16, following the last Saturday of the regular season.

Brendan Coughlin is the Sports Editor for The Comment.

Men’s Soccer MASCAC champions, move onto NCAA Tournement

Andrew Higginbottom
Staff Writer

Celebration_03BSU men’s soccer program celebrated their MASCAC tournement championship with their new hardware, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA DIII Tournement.


Bridgewater State University (BSU) overwhelmed each opponent they played in the MASCAC tournament, and took home the MASCAC title after defeating Framingham State University last Sunday, 3-2

The champions are now on to the NCAA Division III tournament, where they will travel to Cambridge, to go head to head with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Engineers.

The road to victory was not as smooth as the team wanted. The Bears had to vacate four well deserved regular season wins, and their #1 seed in the tournament because a player violated a conference rule after taking part in a few games for another amateur team.

Head coach of BSU’s men’s soccer team, Brendan Adams, discussed the situation prior to receiving the title.

“It hurt a bit because we had to go on the road for the league games and losing the regular season conference title because of all the hard work the guys put in,” said Adams. “We could have easily pointed fingers and self destructed, but the guys stayed the course and dug in.”

The Bears conquered that hurdle, and with dedication captured the MASCAC title.

In the championship game, the Bears went to Framingham to play the Rams at their home of Maple Street Field last Sunday afternoon. The Rams put up a great fight, but could not outscore the skilled BSU team.

The tournament MVP Conor Murtagh scored two prominent goals and received an assist in the triumph. Murtagh now has a total of 17 goals and eight assists, gathering 42 points in total tying the Bear’s all time single season scoring record.

The other goal was put in by senior forward Andrew Chenard, making it his sixth of the season, after receiving the assist from Murtagh.

The Rams netted two goals, however junior Colin Jepson and the adept Bear’s defense withheld them from receiving anymore. The 3-2 victory gave Jepson his school-record 17th win of the season.

The all-time winningest coach in BSU soccer history, Brendan Adams, will hope to lead the team to victory in the upcoming NCAA Division III tournament. This will be the team’s fifth appearance in the tournament, after competing in the tournament in 1990, 2004, 2007, and 2013.

Coach Adams expressed his admiration for this year’s team and discussed his expectations for the upcoming tournament.

“I give a lot of credit to our team leaders; Nick Keddie, Jon Pires, Kolin Campbell, Justin Kachadoorian, Conor Murtagh, Sawyer Fleck and Pat Horgan.  They really stepped up when the time was needed.  Showed a lot, they invested their time, worked on their craft and got the results they were looking for,” said Adams. “We are planning on having our best game of the season on Saturday, hopefully it is good enough to beat MIT.”

The MIT Engineers (16-2-1) will be hosting the Bears (17-3-1) on Saturday, Nov. 14 at Roberts Field in Cambridge.

Andrew Higginbottom is a Staff Writer for The Comment newspaper.