Rivier men’s soccer team progressing

It’s been a long process, but the Rivier University men’s soccer team is making strides.

The Raiders (3-4-1), made up of a good mix of young players and upper classmen, have held their own in most games, and in his fifth season, head coach Bill Lawler along with assistant Greg Phillips are working a formula that looks good for the future, and can hold its own for the present.

"It’s the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here," Raiders head coach Bill Lawler said. "We’ve got more depth than I’ve ever had here. We’ve had some seniors that have been through it, and good leadership throughout the senior class."

"We have a lot of freshman (nine) and a lot of seniors (seven)," said Phillips, a Daniel Webster alum and former Billerica High School head coach. "The seniors are really stepping up. They want to do something with the freshmen coming in. They’ve worked their butts off. So it’s a good mix of young and old."

Lawler says the guidance the team is getting from senior captains Alex Armstrong and Jerry Krahn on the field, and injured goalie Gary Archambault (shoulder, out for the year) off it, have helped.

The Raiders are looking for scoring, as is everyone, including their rival DWC team across town. They need goals. Lynn, Mass., senior Mike Russo leads the Rivier in goals with four, followed by three from Armstrong, also a senior. Both lead the team in shots taken with 19.

"It starts with the passing," Lawler said. "If we can be more consistent, add a layer of quality with our passing, the goals will come. If we were passing better, we might be 5-2 right now."

Defensively, freshman goalie Collin Deyarmin of Raymond, who was heavily recruited by both Rivier and DWC and has 57 saves (.886 percentage) on the year.

"He’s played well," Lawler said. "He came from a good program and it’s not easy for a freshman to run the back line but he’s done a good job of it."

Milford’s Chris Pervere is also expected to see some time in net. In front of Deyarmin, senior midfielder Kyle Gambeski has also been an anchor.

"We’re just trying to put it all together," Lawler said.

DWC’s comings and goings

As for Daniel Webster, the coaching exodus since the takeover by Southern New Hampshire University, even as the college will play out the academic year, has begun.

With the women’s hockey program no more because of numbers, head coach D.J. Fimiani has been hired at Castleton University in Vermont, while wrestling coach John Archambeau bolted to New England College. Reportedly, several of his Eagles wrestlers have followed him by transferring.

But a big loss is men’s lacrosse coach Bill Cosentino, who guided the Eagles program to the NECC semifinals the last two years and was the 2015 NECC Coach of the Year.

Cosentino, who built the largest roster the Eagles program has likely ever seen, was hired by St. Joseph’s in Maine.

"It’s clear that St. Joseph’s values the students and is invested in providing a great learning experience," he said in a statement announcing his hiring.

Archambeau, meanwhile, will be running a first-year program, similar to what he did at DWC two years ago.

"I look forward to doing everything I can to making this program successful from the start," he said in a release.

Eagles assistant AD Ken Belbin called Fimiani’s efforts "herculean" in his attempts to recruit and retain a roster, "but the numbers just weren’t there."

They will be for men’s and women’s basketball, Belbin said, as well as other sports.

"Right now we’re planning on fielding teams through the remainder of the academic year," Belbin said. "Don (Morris, Jr.) and Andrea (Woodbury), for example, have teams that are eager to play and compete and as you can imagine I think there’s extra motivation to go out with a bang, so to speak. The same goes for our spring coaches."

Men’s hockey, Belbin said, have nearly 50 ready to try out for Eric McCambly’s third and final season.

Belbin said that SNHU has no financial incentive to keep athletics going at DWC, but "they’ve done so regardless for the benefit of the student athletes."

Rivalries coming to an end

The Riv-DWC men’s soccer rivalry wasn’t the only one that ended this week. The two schools played their final field hockey game against each other on Monday night at Raider Field, with the Raiders topping the Eagles, 4-0.

It wasn’t a long-lasting rivalry as the two schools haven’t had the sport for long, but the win gave Riv a 6-2 series mark dating back to 2009 when the Raiders renewed their program. Riv is now 3-6 on the year while the Eagles fell to 0-6.

Raider junior Emily Knoops (Tewksbury, Mass.) had two goals, while seniors Brittani Garza (Alexandra, Va.) and Chelsie Hubisack-Muldowney (Windham) scored one each in the first half as well.

Raider freshman goalie Erica Royle (Kingston, Mass.) had four saves for her first collegiate win, while Katherine Papele of Swampscott, Mass., took over in the second half for Riv and didn’t see a shot.

It was just the opposite for DWC netminder Ashlyn Farwell of Pelham, as she had quite a busy night with 26 saves.

Riv volleyball suffers first loss

The Rivier women’s volleyball team is unbeaten no longer and the loss was to a team, Johnson and Wales, the Raiders were looking forward to topping so they could secure a GNAC tiebreaker down the road.

The Wildcats needed only four close sets for the win – 25-19, 25-22, 27-29, 28-26 – and right now they’re the unbeaten ones (11-0 at last look).

Rivier’s Dana Mott and Lauren Silverman led the way, combining for more than 75 percent of the team’s kills, Mott with 16 and Silverman with 11. The Raiders, who were scheduled to visit Keene State on Tuesday, did get non-conference wins after that loss over Wellesley and WPI to improve to 13-1 on the year.

Riv won’t see JW again during the regular season, but it’s likely the two could square off in the conference tourney.

"For the last 10 years we’ve both been the preeminent women’s volleyball programs in the GNAC," Riv coach Craig Kolek said in an email. "The two schools have played a number of epic matches and (last Wednesday’s) was another one for the ages."

We’ll see if there’s another match for the ages late next month in the GNAC finals.