Top photo: Sophia Lindus ’26 rises for an attack in a September 22 home match against Susquehanna. Wesleyan won in a sweep. Photo by Max Forstein ’27.
The most successful varsity program at Wesleyan, in terms of wins and losses in recent seasons, is at it again this fall as the volleyball team enjoys one of the best regular seasons in program history. Armed with a 20-1 overall record (at press time), the Cardinals completed the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record in NESCAC play for the first time in team history. Undefeated at home, the Cardinals have advanced to the NESCAC semifinal round for the sixth straight season and won their fifth Little Three title in the past six seasons after a thrilling five-set triumph over Williams followed by a dominating three-set sweep at Amherst in early October.
Success on the court has been a yearly tradition for volleyball, as the Cardinals have advanced to the NCAA Tournament five seasons running and have played for the NESCAC Championship three times since 2017, winning the program’s first and only league title in that 2017 season. In that span (since 2017), Wesleyan is 126-29 (53-7 in NESCAC play) for a win percentage of .813. The constant in all the winning for volleyball has been Head Coach Ben Somera, who became the fastest coach in Wesleyan history to record 100 wins, as he needed just 145 matches to reach the milestone.
Wesleyan’s 2023 campaign has reached new heights in terms of dominance, recording 14 sweeps and being forced to five sets just three times through the first 21 matches of the season. The Cardinals lead the NESCAC in a bevy of statistics including points, attack percentage, assists, kills, blocks, and digs while opponents are averaging the fewest service aces and blocks when facing the Cardinals. That success has translated to the national rankings as Wesleyan has peaked at No. 14 in the coaches’ poll.
The 2022 NESCAC Player and Rookie of the Year Sophia Lindus ’26 continues to dominate as the sophomore outside hitter leads the NESCAC in kills and points while she ranks seventh in the league (first among outside hitters) in attack percentage at .306. Other individual standouts include Bianca Ortiz ’24, who leads the NESCAC and ranks 11th in the nation in digs per set (6.03), as well as KG Morton ’24, who leads the NESCAC in attack percentage (.358).
A rather crucial match just went in the Cardinals’ favor, as Wesleyan recorded a 3-1 win over Bowdoin on October 14, signaling the end of a four-match losing streak against the Polar Bears that dates back to the 2019 NESCAC Championship match.
Just one season removed from playing host to the NESCAC Tournament and NCAA Tournament matches for the first time in team history, Wesleyan looks to check off more program firsts as the team enters the late stages of regular season play and into the postseason where the Cardinals figure to compete for both NESCAC and NCAA glory in November.
It has been well over a decade since the Wesleyan field hockey team has put together a campaign as successful as the one the Cardinals just completed. A 4-0 overall start, three straight wins to open NESCAC play, and a national ranking, all firsts for the program since the 2010 season.
After opening with wins over WPI, Colby, Clark, and Roger Williams, Wesleyan rebounded from their first loss of the season and reeled off consecutive home wins over No. 14 ranked Trinity and No. 15 Hamilton on the same weekend in late September. The Cardinals dominated the Bantams, defeating their in-state league foe by a score of 4-1, and followed with a 2-1 triumph over the Continentals in what was the first Wesleyan win over Hamilton since 2014.
Following that home weekend sweep of ranked opponents, big news came out of the National Field Hockey Coaches Association as the Top 25 national ranking list was released, with the Cardinals sitting at No. 25 in the poll. A landmark achievement, 13 years in the making, signaled recognition from coaches across the country that Wesleyan is stepping into a new class, as one of the nation’s elites.
The wave of momentum reached a pinnacle on October 4, when Wesleyan traveled to face No. 5 Tufts. Facing a perennial power with four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, the Cardinals handled the pressure, landing a 2-1 overtime win. In what can be argued as the biggest win in program history, this signaled just the second time in team history that Wesleyan has beaten a Top 5 ranked team, and the first time ever on the road. Prior to that win, the last time the Cardinals beat the Jumbos in Medford came back in 2000.
The Cardinals went on to defeat No. 11 ranked Bowdoin, 3-2, in a penalty shootout at home, representing the fourth win over a nationally ranked opponent this season for Wesleyan. Even though the Cardinals’ season came to an end with a 3-2 overtime loss at Williams in the NESCAC Tournament, Wesleyan’s 2023 season is the best for the team in well over a decade.
The Cardinals saw four players earn All-NESCAC honors, including three make the All-NESCAC First Team. Among the honorees included First Team selections in forward Georgia Adams ’26, back Imani Ochieng ’25, and goalkeeper Audrey Pace ’26, while midfielder Helen Deretchin ’25 was a Second Team honoree. The three All-NESCAC First Teamers is a new single-season team record while the four total All-NESCAC honorees is also a new record.
For schedules and recaps of the full athletics season, visit Wesleyan Athletics.
By Maxx McNall