Fall/Winter College Sports Preview

Everything you need to know about your favorite teams


There’s a bit of a nip in the air at night now, leaves are starting to turn, and the pumpkin lattes are flowing again, which can mean just one thing: water polo season has begun! Just kidding, we mean football, although water polo is one of the six fall college sports sanctioned by the NCAA, along with football, soccer, field hockey, cross-country, and women’s volleyball. While Rhode Island schools aren’t national powerhouses in any of those sports, we are home to at least one pretty good cycling team.

Here’s a quick look at what to expect and where to catch the action as competition gets underway in the 2019-20 college sports season:

Team Name: Friars
Home Field: Providence campus/Dunkin’ Donuts Center
Tickets: Friars.com or 865-GO-PC

Grab some doughboys at the concession stand and settle in for some PC Friars action but don’t sit until the home team scores if you want to honor school tradition. Despite an average 18-16 record last season, PC men’s basketball at the Dunk remains the hottest college sports ticket in town. The Friars hockey team also draws big, passionate crowds to Schneider Arena. Coach Nate Leaman has compiled a 0.619 winning percentage and a 2015 NCAA National Championship during his tenure, and the team is coming off another Frozen Four appearance in 2018-19. The women’s ice hockey program is strong as well, with the 2018 team going 24-11-2 and advancing to the conference quarterfinals. PC men’s soccer returns its top six scorers from a 2018 team that went 10-7-2 in the Big East, the women’s soccer team has been to five straight Big East tournaments under just-renewed head coach Sam Lopes.

Team Name: Bears
Home Field: Providence
Tickets: BrownBears.com or 863-2773

PC and URI get more attention, but Brown fields more than 30 varsity sports teams in the Ivy League. Attending a Bears home game is always worthwhile for the old-school atmosphere at historic Brown Stadium in Providence. New head coach James Perry is looking to turn the Bears around after back-to-back winless seasons. Bruins basketball has enjoyed more success, going 20-12 last season (including 13-3 at home) and making an appearance in the College Basketball Invitational in winter 2019. Brown competes in Division 1 ice hockey, and last year the men’s team advanced to the East Coast Athletic Conference semifinals despite a middling 8-9-5 record in the regular season.

Team Name: Rams
Home Field: Kingston
Tickets: GoRhody.com or 874-RAMS

The Rams football team has a rare winning record (6-5) and climbed into the NCAA Division I-AA national rankings in 2018, a positive sign for a program that has historically struggled. The men’s soccer team won the Atlantic 10 championship in 2018-19 and earned a trip to the NCAA Region 1 tournament. The women’s soccer program was picked to finish last in the A10 in the coming season, which should provide coach Megan Jessee’s squad with plenty of motivation to prove the experts wrong. Second-year head coach David Cox will look to improve on one of the best in school history for URI men’s basketball, which surged to a 26-8 record and notched a first-round win over Oklahoma during the NCAA national March Madness tournament. The women’s basketball team has a new head coach, Tammy Reiss, a former assistant at Syracuse. Both the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams play home games at the Boss Ice Arena, with the men coming off a 21-15-1 season but an early exit from the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League playoffs. The women, however, won the East Coast Women’s Hockey League championship and competed for a national title.

RISD’s phallically inspired club ice hockey team, the Nads, earns some laughs (Go Nads!), but the art school has actually been very successful in its only varsity sport: cycling. RISD Cycling competes in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference and is the only art school in the country with a cycling team: last winter, rider Jane Rossi won the school’s first-ever sports championship by finishing first in her division at the 2018 Cyclocross National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky.

Team Name: Bulldogs
Home Field: Smithfield
Tickets: BryantBulldogs.com or 319-TIXX (8499)

First year head football coach Chris Merritt leads a Bryant team coming off a 6-5 season. Former Cranston and Bishop Hendricken quarterback Chris Hindle starts under center, and Pawtucket’s Alfred Dorbor returns to the backfield after rushing for seven touchdowns last season. The Bryant men’s soccer team returns 20 players from a squad that went to the NEC championship game a year ago, also returning to the soccer pitch on the women’s squad is star forward Ali Guilmette, who missed last season with an injury. Twenty-three year head women’s volleyball coach Theresa Garlacy will look to guide her squad to a repeat of its 2018 NEC Championship season, the first in program history. The men’s basketball team tripled their win total in 2018-19 (to 10-20), while the women’s hoops squad will be led by Sydney Holloway, a two-time All-NEC selection.

The Providence Bruins’ home season begins October 12, with the team looking to extend their playoff streak to eight consecutive seasons in pursuit of the Calder Cup. Players to watch include forward Jack Studnicka, who enters his first full professional season after scoring 36 goals in 60 games in the Ontario Hockey League; defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, entering his second season with the P-Bruins, and new goaltender Kyle Keyser, who won 32 games in the Ontario Hockey League with a 2.75 goals-against average. Highlights of the team’s 2019-20 schedule include opening night against the Rochester Americans and a rematch with the Calder Cup champion Charlotte Checkers on January 4. The team calendar is packed with promotional events as usual, including Pink in the Rink Weekend (October 26 and 27) benefitting the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Foundation.