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Club sports team reach peak performance this fall

Nicole Yannalfo, BHS'18, president of the field hockey club, praised the team’s “ability to work together as a cohesive unit.” Photo by: Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Northeastern’s club sports program has had a particularly successful fall season, with many teams reaching the pinnacle of play.

The men’s rugby club, for example, finished with a sterling 8-0 record, capped off by a 42-10 blowout victory over SUNY Cortland in the Liberty Conference bowl. The field hockey club amassed an 18-4-1 record, outscored opponents 99-19, and reached the finals of the National Field Hockey League fall championship. And the women’s soccer club tallied 13 wins en route to winning the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association’s Region 1 tournament for the first time in program history.

“It’s been surreal to be able to advise such great teams,” said Nick Avery, assistant director of campus recreation.

He praised the Huskies’ success both on and off the field, noting that student-athletes often learn how to design budgets, create schedules, and harness their leadership skills in addition to dominating play on game day. As he put it, “I think we have a unique and special set of students here who are capitalizing on their opportunities.”

‘No one was bigger than the game’

More than 1,800 students compete on 50 club teams at Northeastern—a 115 percent increase in participation since 2009. Over the past eight years, the university has added 16 new club sports, from archery and gymnastics to water polo and cricket.

Leaders of the men’s rugby, women’s soccer, and field hockey clubs credit their winning ways to creating a culture based on teamwork.

Dante Pierantozzi, DMSB’19, president of the men’s rugby club. Photo by: Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Dante Pierantozzi, president of the men’s rugby club, attributed the ruggers’ success to their team-first approach. “Everyone bought in,” Pierantozzi said. “No one was bigger than the game.”

According to him, the players are particularly tight-knit off the pitch, too, talking class and co-op on a regular basis. As he put it, “when people like each other, it translates to the field.”

Nicole Yannalfo. Photo by: Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Nicole Yannalfo, president of the field hockey club, echoed Pierantozzi, saying that the team’s “ability to work together as a cohesive unit” helped the Huskies reach the championship game. The players bonded off the field, she said, eating dinner together and making the most of long bus rides, and then came ready to play.

2017 marked the 12th consecutive year in which the club—a self-coached outfit—reached the national tournament. “We have a solid set of seniors who pass down their knowledge and coaching skills,” said Yannalfo, “and that has really helped us.”

Lindsey Vazquez, E’18, president of the women’s soccer club. Photo by: Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

Lindsey Vazquez, president of the women’s soccer club, credited the flexibility of the 21-player roster with the team’s ability to win its regional tournament and reach the Sweet 16 of NIRSA’s National Soccer Championships in Phoenix. “We had eight new players this season, including five freshmen, so we thought it was going to be a rebuilding year,” said Vazquez. “But several players ended up playing a lot of different positions, which was valuable because we had some injuries.”

Club sports highlights

A number of other club teams performed exceptionally well this fall. Here are some highlights:

  • The cricket club, which was founded in 2012, won the American College Cricket Northeast Championship in October, earning an automatic bid to the ACC National Championship in March in Florida.
  • The tennis club, a co-ed program founded in 2005, placed second in the United States Tennis Association’s New England sectionals, earning an automatic bid to the USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship in April in Florida.
  • The triathlon club placed second in the Northeast Collegiate Triathlon Conference, earning an automatic bid to the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championship in April in Alabama.
  • The dance and cheerleading teams, which typically perform at men and women’s basketball games, will compete at the National Dance Alliance and National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate National Championships in April in Florida.
  • The running club—a member of the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association and USA Track and Field—competed in the NIRCA Cross Country National Championships in November in Michigan. The women’s club placed 9th overall with an average 6K time of 24:30:00, while the men’s club placed 24th overall with an average 8K time of 27:40:20. Two student-athletes—Chelsea Wojeski, who placed 10th in the women’s championship, and Peter Teixeira, who placed 28th in the men’s championship—earned All-American status for their performances.