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Women’s Basketball

Coach Keith Cieplicki looks to make another run at the America East championship this year. “Winning the regular season title last year was a big step for the program, and our focus this year will be to maintain that level of excellence,” says Cieplicki. “Our goal is to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”
It has been just one year since Cieplicki took over leadership of the program and coached the team to UVM’s first regular season title since 1992-93. Many key starters from last year’s squad have graduated, and the Cats will look for a new generation to take over the team leadership. “We will be a different team this year with the six newcomers and Holly Harris returning,” says Cieplicki. “I don’t think the league will be a two-team race this year, others will be moving up. We have a solid nucleus of veterans coming back and I like our depth. Karalyn Church is no longer a secret and for us to be successful, we need contributions from everyone.”

Men’s Basketball

With seven of last season’s top players returning, Vermont is ready to make another run for the top of the very competitive America East. “The quality of the conference is the best it has ever been,” says Coach Tom Brennan, entering his 13th season at UVM. “Six or seven teams are legitimate contenders and I believe we are one of them.”

Last year’s team exceeded all expectations by finishing the season in third-place for the conference and posting a school record eleven wins in conference play. “Last season we flirted with the top which has motivated the kids to improve in the offseason,” Brennan says. “Our success, and earning the respect that comes with it, has given great visibility to the program. Now the players and the community believe we can be champions.”

Key returning players trying to make that happen are Jared Steele, Craig Peper, Matt Chotkowski, Tony Orciari, David Roach, and Tobe Carberry.

Men’s Hockey

The UVM men’s hockey team enters the 1998-99 season with a roster full of experienced players and a strong incoming class. The Catamounts, 10-20-4 overall and 7-11-4 in ECAC play last season, showed strong character through the year in dealing with some adversity. Vermont returns the top six scorers and all six defensemen from the 1997-98 team, as well as one of the top young goaltenders in the league. Combine that with seven newcomers and Coach Mike Gilligan’s Catamounts appear to be in position to battle for the league title this year.

Men’s Soccer

Coach Roy Patton’s team, which finished 12-5-2 last season, is looking for more good things in 1998. Patton returns seven starters from last year’s team, and adds three impact freshmen as the Cats try to qualify for the AMERICA EAST tournament, which will be held at UVM in November. The top returning players for Vermont include co-captains Phil Signoroni and Chris Rose, and seniors Mark deCastro and Brian Kurtz. Signoroni, one of the top defenders in New England, was a first-team All-Conference pick last season, while Rose was one of the region’s top goalies. deCastro was second on the team in scoring in 1997 with six goals and two assists, and Kurtz has been a defensive mainstay for three years.

Womens Soccer

The Catamounts return 16 letterwinners and more than 70 percent of the team’s scoring in 1998 after a 9-7-1 campaign in 1997. Second-year head coach Jodi Kenyon also has a slew of highly touted recruits coming in, and looks forward to a top finish in the conference. Top returners include All-Conference standouts Megan Mattes and Corinne Imperatore and sophomore standout Carolyn Nedderman. Add to them second-team All-Conference sweeper Stacey Williams, top defender Michelle Savoie, and veteran goalie Eileen Narcotta, and the Catamounts have the nucleus of an NCAA qualifier.

Coach Jen Niebling ’93: Keeping the Tradition

It was comfortable being a UVM women’s basketball fan when Jen Niebling ’93 joined the Catamount team in 1989. Even with just one side of the bleachers open, her parents had plenty of room to stretch out and watch the games after driving up from their home in Randolph, Vt. They liked it that way, Niebling remembers with a smile. When they yelled, they knew that their daughter would hear them out on the court.

Things got louder and fans started to lose their leg room during Niebling’s sophomore year. Over the next three years, the women’s basketball team, under the leadership of former coach Cathy Inglese, put together an NCAA record winning streak, made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament, and attracted full houses to Patrick Gymnasium.

Niebling shakes her head when she looks back on those years, “Everything was so fast paced. It really took over our lives for a while.”

Niebling was a key part of that success, a true floor leader with a hard-nosed style that set the tone for her teammates. While excelling on the basketball court, Niebling also distinguished herself in the classroom. A political science major, she was named second-team Academic All-American her senior year.

For the past year, Niebling has been at home again in Patrick Gym, where she is an assistant coach for women’s basketball. Keith Cieplicki, assistant during Niebling’s playing days, is now the head coach, leading a program that continues to excel.

Interaction with the players, “seeing them accomplish things they might not have thought were possible,” is the best part of her job, Niebling says. She realized that sports would be a part of her future while spending 1994-95 in law school at George Washington University. Niebling says she came to realize “that I need to be in the athletic world. It’s where my heart is.”