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One of the busiest and most successful weekends in recent John Carroll memory took place from November 12-14.

Here’s what happened this past weekend with JCU Athletics, a weekend Blue Streaks fans will not soon forget because of all of the historic moments and milestones. 

 

Men’s Soccer 

After clinching the Ohio Athletic Conference Championship the previous weekend, John Carroll Men’s Soccer was selected as a first/second round host of the NCAA Tournament; hosting themselves, Bethany (WV), Penn State Harrisburg, and Johns Hopkins.

In their first game on Saturday, the Blue & Gold cruised to a 3-1 victory over Bethany (WV). Jack Foht scored a goal in the first half, then proceeded to loft a cross to James Hoover who put away another goal; and 30 seconds later, Foht earned himself a brace to make it 3-0. A late goal by Bethany made it a 3-1 final.

After Johns Hopkins defeated Penn State Harrisburg 2-1, the Blue Streaks turned their attention to the No. 25 nationally-ranked Blue Jays. Battling snowy conditions throughout the 90 minutes, JCU dug itself into a 1-0 deficit as a foul in the box led to Johns Hopkins converting a penalty. But the Blue & Gold came ready to respond in the second half as James Hoover found Benjamin Hryszko in the box to tie the match. Then the game-winner came from Jack Foht, who received a pass from Hryszko and slotted it through to the back of the net. Strong defense the rest of the way earned JCU a 2-1 win as they advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the second time in program history, the first time since 2003.

With the wins, the Blue Streaks will take on Middlebury College on Saturday, November 20 at Amherst College at 1:30 PM. with a chance at their first Elite Eight appearance in school history.

Men's Soccer Sweet 16

Men’s & Women’s Cross Country

The Blue Streaks will have not one, but two seats at the Big Dance. Both the Men’s and Women’s Cross Country squads have punched their tickets to the NCAA Division III Championships next weekend.

On the men’s side, Alex Phillip finished 23 seconds ahead of the runner-up with a time of 24:27.4, earning him the individual title. Finishing behind Phillip were Jamie Dailey (11th), Cormac Preppard-Kramer (15th), Barrett Scheatzle (16th), and Ian Pierson (19th), earning JCU five runners in the top 20 overall. The Blue Streaks’ 62 points were 27 points ahead of second place Otterbein and earned them the first regional championship in school history.

On the women’s side, Erica Esper (14th) and Cameron Bujaucius (15th) led the way. Finishing closely behind them were Rory Vigrass (25th), Sydney Jenko (30th), and Sarah Weldon (42nd). The 125 points overall earned them third place honors, giving them an at-large bid into the NCAA championships. 

In 2019, the men took 19th in the national championships, and the women took 21st. This year, they will have a shot at history once again as the Blue Streaks have never seen a team or individual win a crown at nationals.

The NCAA Division III National Championships will take place on Saturday, November 20 at Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Kentucky.

 

Football 

The 33rd Cuyahoga Gold Bowl proved to be one of the most memorable finishes in John Carroll Football history, but it didn’t start out that way. A Grant Gonya field goal was the only points scored in the first 30 minutes for the Blue Streaks. As for the Yellow Jackets, three first-half touchdowns gave them a 21-3 halftime lead. Jake Floriea found Devin Limerick for a score in the second half, but the Yellow Jackets responded to make it 28-10. Just when it seemed the Cuyahoga Gold Bowl trophy would have a new home for the first time in nine years, some magic happened…

Down 18 points with 12 minutes left in the game, the Blue & Gold engineered a three-minute touchdown drive, capped by Evan McVay to make it 28-16. After JCU forced a stop on defense, Jake Floriea found McVay on a screen pass and the freshman scored again to make it 28-22 with four minutes left. Then, after yet another crucial stop on defense, the Blue Streaks were given the ball with just over two minutes left for a chance to win. After a fourth down conversion and some key first downs, Jake Floriea dropped back and found a wide-open Joey Torok for an unforgettable game-tying touchdown with under a minute left. Gonya nailed the extra point to take the lead, and some last-minute heroics from Baldwin Wallace did not come to fruition. The JCU 18-point comeback to win 29-28 caps their season with a 7-3 overall record, and adds another thrilling chapter to the Cuyahoga Gold Bowl rivalry with perhaps the greatest comeback in program history.

Floriea’s 281 passing yards and three touchdowns led the way, followed by McVay’s 140 total yards & two touchdowns. Brennan Fugh earned 1,000 career receiving yards in the game & finished the season with a 12-reception-144-yard performance. Fugh’s 1,114 yards this season finish as the second most in a season in school history.

Defensively, Jack Burton put together the best performance of his career with 11 tackles, two TFLs, and a fumble recovery, earning OAC Defensive Player of the Week accolades. 

JCU football Gold Bowl

Women’s Basketball 

Coming off a very successful season where the John Carroll Women’s Basketball team won both the Ohio Athletic Conference Regular Season and Tournament titles, the No. 8 Blue Streaks opened their 2021-22 by hosting the John Carroll University Tip-Off Tournament. Featuring Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve, and Heidelberg, the Blue & Gold began their season by taking on a local opponent in Case Western Reserve. 

In their first non-OAC contest in 685 days, John Carroll defeated the Spartans 77-65. The Blue Streaks came out on fire, registering 30 points in the first quarter, and led by 20 points going into halftime. However, the Spartans outscored them 19-13 in the third quarter. Despite the strong second-half effort from Case Western Reserve, JCU was able to hold on for a 12-point win. Olivia Nagy finished the game with 17 points and four blocks, and Nicole Heffington & Kaelyn Underwood each finished with 11.

The next day, the Blue Streaks took on Carnegie Mellon, and similarly cruised to a 79-62 win. JCU enjoyed another fast first half start, running out to a 39-26 advantage at halftime. This time, however, the Blue & Gold finished with a strong second half. Outsourcing the Tartans 40-36 in the final twenty minutes, John Carroll was able to walk away with a well-earned victory. Nicole Heffington led with a game-high 26 points, followed behind by Nagy with 13 (and eight rebounds), Underwood with 11, and Jaylen Hoffmann with nine.

The Blue & Gold scrimmage Kent State University on Thursday, November 18, and host Albion College on Saturday, November 20 at 2 PM in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center

 

Men’s Basketball 

John Carroll Men’s Basketball had hopes of getting off to a fast start to open the 2021 season; consider that as “Mission Accomplished,” as the Blue Streaks used two victories to win the Hilbert College Classic in Hamburg, New York.

The first game against Keuka College was history in the making, as graduate student sharpshooter Jackson Sartain opened his final season with the Blue & Gold with a career-defining performance. 55 points, 19 field goals, and 15 three-pointers in one game are all program records set by the Medina native. The performance, one of the best individual statistical efforts in the 100+ year of JCU Men’s Basketball, earned him OAC Player of the Week honors. 

Chase Toppin, a transfer student from Lake Erie College, had a fantastic debut with the Blue Streaks, finishing with a 23 point-13 rebound double-double, also adding five assists. Eric Hanna also added 13 points. All in all, the Blue Streaks came out on top with a high-scoring 109-96 victory.

The following day, the Blue & Gold faced off with the host school, Hilbert College, and cruised to a 100-79 victory, earning them the Hilbert College Classic title. Despite being a 27-23 game at one point, JCU went on a 24-10 run to end the first half. At one point, the Blue Streaks led by 31 in the second half, earning some freshmen and other underclassmen some quality playing time. Toppin was the leading scorer with 20 points, followed by 18 points and five assists from Hanna, 15 points from Sartain, and 13 points from freshman Connor O’Toole.

The Blue Streaks will look to take the momentum of their multiple 100-point performances to the Buffalo State Coles Classic next weekend, where they will begin taking on Medaille College on Friday, November 19 at 6 PM.

JCU Men's Basketball 2021

Wrestling

At the Trine Invitational on Saturday, four wrestlers finished undefeated, including Andrew Perelka, Jarrod Brezovec, Luke Reicosky, and Jesse Kanatzar. Perelka, in particular, won his four matches in a mere five minutes and 56 seconds and repeated as invitational champion. Perelka earned OAC Wrestler of the Week honors after his championship effort. Brezovec was also a repeat invitational champ as he won his four matches by a combined 44-3 score. Kantazar, in his first tournament as a Blue Streak, got off to his best possible start by winning his weight class title. Freshman Daniel Devera finished second in his weight class, losing a close 6-5 title match to a two-time All-American. Patrick McGraw finished third in his class, and Kale Buckiso and Brody Arrundale each finished in 4th place.

The Blue Streaks will face off with Otterbein on Tuesday, November 16, followed by the JCU Duals on Sunday, November 21. Both events will be held in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.

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