2022 Fall Sports Preview

Puneet Bansal, Sports Editor

After successful seasons for all sports following the pandemic disruption, Case Western Reserve University athletes are moving full steam ahead into another year.

CWRU’s fall sports season will begin on Thursday, Sept. 1. The women’s soccer team will kick off the semester with a home game against Capital College at 7:30 p.m. The cross country teams will open their season with the Bill Sudeck Classic on Sept. 2 alongside season openers of the volleyball team and men’s soccer team.

Here is a look ahead to the CWRU sports teams you can follow in the upcoming months:

Cross Country

Last season, the Spartans recorded one of their best seasons in program history. With fully loaded squads, the teams now aim to achieve even greater heights.

The men’s team placed 19th at the NCAA DIII Championships, the best finish since the 1986 season and the first top-20 finish in the last 18 years. At the time, the team was led by fourth-year Trey Razanauskas, who was the best Spartan finisher, placing 45th out of 289 competitors, and third-year Jack Begley, who came in 82nd. Third-years Robert St. Clair and Liam O’Reilly, fourth-year Logan Singer and first-years Aidan Nathan and Nate Gilbert also represented CWRU at the championships.

Powered by veteran runners, the women’s team overcame injuries early in the season to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2010 and the sixth time in program history. Fourth-year Jana Fisher led the team and placed 51st for a career-best 6K time of 21:58.3. Fellow fourth-year Susanna Henry placed 93rd. The Spartans were also represented by fourth-year Julia Kocherzat, third-year Catherine Phillips, second-year Jessica Kwasny, first-year Medha Patria and graduate student Grace Kemerer.

The two teams were also named All-Academic Teams by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, with 10 runners earning individual All-Academic honors.

For the 2022 season, the men’s team boasts a heavy veteran presence, bringing in six first-years for a total of 33 runners. The women’s team has seven first-years to bolster a team of 24 runners.

The Spartans will travel to Hunting Valley, Ohio to compete in the Bill Sudeck Classic on Sept. 2 and will round out September with the All-Ohio Twilight competition on Sept. 16. Following three meets in October, the teams will head to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia to battle for the UAA Championships on Oct. 29. Qualifying athletes will go to Lansing, Michigan on Nov. 19 to represent CWRU at the NCAA DIII Championships.  


The CWRU football team had a solid campaign that mixed talent with inexperience. The team ended the season with a 6-4 record—its lowest win total since 2014. There is a lot to look forward to, however, as the group turned around their slow start in the second half of the season and finished off the final five games with four wins.

Key returning players include All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference First Team member fourth-year quarterback Drew Saxton, First Team honoree fourth-year running back Antonio Orsini and Second Team member fourth-year offensive lineman Joshua Blamer, with honorable mentions including third-year Kaden Tong, graduate student Colin Schuster, fourth-year D.J. Wolf and second-year Joseph Rhodes V.

Saxton will look to build on his historic 2021 season, wherein he finished the year with 9,028 career passing yards and 83 career passing touchdowns—both second-most in program history.

Tong is a key member on the defensive line, notching 14 sacks and allowing 147.9 rushing yards per contest. He will anchor a more experienced and athletic defensive line, which will be incredibly important as the team aims to build on last season’s finish.

36 football athletes received UAA Fall All-Academic Honors, 49 were named to the PAC Fall Academic Honor Roll and six were placed in the NFF Hampshire Honor Society.

The roster includes 102 athletes, including 32 first-years. The Spartans have been picked to finish fifth in the President’s Athletic Conference in a poll of the league’s coaches and sports information directors.

The 10-game season will begin at home on Sept. 3 against Johns Hopkins University. After the second game on the road against Waynesburg University on Sept. 10, the rest of the schedule will be against PAC conference teams. The season finale will be at home against conference rival Carnegie Mellon University on Nov. 12. 

Men’s Soccer

This past season, the men’s team struggled against a difficult schedule, finishing the year with a 6-8-2 record. Eight of the teams the Spartans played went on to qualify for the NCAA DIII Championship tournament—the Spartans recorded a 0-6-2 record in these games. 

The Spartans were able to push some elite teams to the brink, including a 2-2 double-overtime tie against Emory University and a close 2-1 match against the University of Chicago. The team was led by third-year Matt Vatne, who was a All-UAA First Team member, and fourth-year Jacob Hall, an All-UAA Second Team selection.

Eighteen athletes received All-UAA academic honors. Additionally, Hall was selected as the recipient of the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. He had an illustrious career, including as a member of the historic CWRU men’s team that reached the NCAA quarterfinals in 2018.  

The team for the 2022 fall season includes seven first-years, bringing the total roster to 27 players.

The men’s team will open their season with a two-game road trip and will face Ohio Wesleyan University on Sept. 2 and Capital College on Sept. 3. The team will return home for three games before finishing off September with a three-game road trip. The UAA portion of the schedule will commence on Oct. 1 against Brandeis University at home. The final four regular season matches will be a comfortable homestand, with the season finale being against Carnegie Mellon. If the Spartans qualify, the postseason will begin mid-November. 

Women’s Soccer

Perhaps the gem of CWRU sports this decade, the CWRU women’s soccer team achieved its most successful season in program history as they reached the round of 16 in the 2021 NCAA DIII Championships.

Qualifying for the third-year in school history and the second time under Coach Jen Simonetti, the Spartans posted a 16-2-2 overall record and ranked 10th nationally at the conclusion of the regular season. The 16 wins marked the most in program history.

The legendary team was anchored by UAA Offensive Player of the Year and All-UAA First Team member fourth-year Anika Washburn, All-UAA First Team defender Greta Lazzara and All-UAA Second-Team fourth-year Christina Hickson. Second-year Maggie Storti earned an All-UAA honorable mention for her impressive goalkeeping displays. 

Washburn recorded one of the best individual seasons in program history, leading the conference with 40 points on 15 goals and 10 assists. She broke her own single season record for goals in a season after recording her 31st goal against the University of Chicago in the round of 16.

Washburn and Lazzara were also named to the 2021 D3Soccer.com Women’s All-American Teams, with Washburn earning the First Team honors and Lazzara earning Third Team honors.

Coach Simonetti was named the National Coach of the Year while the Spartans’ coaching staff was named the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year and the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division III VII Regional Coaching Staff of the Year.

Now being led by fourth-year Washburn, third-year goalkeeper Maggie Storti and fourth-year midfielder Lexi Gomez, the 37-member team has brought in 15 first-years as it makes another run at the NCAA tournament. Given their elite performance in the 2021 season, CWRU was ranked 12th in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll. 

Abby Richter was named the team’s Head Coach on Aug. 9 following the departure of Simonetti. Richter also named Cameron Shedenhelm as the Assistant Coach.

After the fall season kickoff on Sept. 1, the Spartans will play seven more games in September before heading into conference play on Oct. 1. The UAA matches will be held on the same days as those of the men’s team.


The 2021 season for the volleyball team served as a time for player and team growth, with much of the team being younger and still getting used to college-level play. The Spartans finished the season with a 13-14 overall record and a 2-5 record against UAA teams. The team earned sixth place at the UAA Championships.

Top performers included second-year Jennifer Ngo, who earned All-UAA First Team honors and was the conference sophomore of the year, second-year Alyssa Blessinger, who was an All-UAA Second Team member and third-year Gianna Lambert, who was named an All-UAA Honorable Mention.

Ngo led the team with 247 kills and 110 blocks, and her 1.12 blocks per set ranked second among all UAA players and third-best in CWRU history. Blessinger led the UAA with 504 digs and 0.49 service aces per set, ranking second in the program’s single-season history. Lambert led CWRU with 2.70 kills per set and totaled 73 digs, 34 blocks and 13 service aces.

Eleven team members received All-UAA Academic Honors while the team earned the United States Marine Corps and American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the 2021-22 year.

Heading into the 2022 season, the three aforementioned veterans will lead a team of 24 athletes, which includes four first-years.

The Spartans will begin their fall campaign in Sandusky, Ohio on Sept. 2, where they will take on Grove City College and Hanover College. From Sept. 7-14, the Spartans will be on home turf for a five-game homestand. The team will then travel to St. Louis, MO to compete in the first UAA Round Robin. Following two more conference Round Robins in October, the Spartans will compete at the UAA Championships from Nov. 4-5.