After their 30-6 loss to Ithaca College, head coach Blaise Faggiano and the Utica College Pioneers (5-3, 0-3 E8) travel to Hartwick College to take on the Hawks (2-5, 0-4 E8). Either way, one of these two teams are going to walk away with their first conference win of the season.
It has been so heartbreaking to see the Pioneers, who came out to a 4-0 start, to drop three of their last four games. Even worse that all three losses came to Empire 8 opponents, with two of those three games practically being given away due to mistakes and the inability to close the games out against St. John Fisher and Springfield.
The Pioneers have set many records this season and reached many "firsts" in program history. Utica has been absolutely inspirational to alumni, fellow students and the surrounding community, recording their best attendance each and every home game this season. With the final two games of the season, the Pioneers aren't getting ahead of themselves, nor will they ever give up. Coach Faggiano is taking the same approach that he has taken for each game this season:
"Tough loss vs. Ithaca College but [we] have to just move forward, work harder and make some adjustments. All efforts are [in] defeating Hartwick this week. Hartwick is well coached and their players play hard. We are hungry to get back in the Win column."
The Pioneers couldn't move forward and got outworked by Hartwick when it was all said and done. For a team that opened the season in impressive fashion with a 5-1 record, first time votes for national rankings and being in the top 10 nationally in multiple offensive and defensive team and individual statistic leaders, the season has begun to fall hard and fast. In two of their three losses over the past month, Springfield and Hartwick beat UC by a combined 7 points. If there's anything that Utica needs to accomplish going into the final Empire 8 game of the season, it's playing 60 minutes of football and closing out games when they have the lead.
Utica still looks promising to end the season on a positive note by taking out the powerhouse of Alfred at Gaetano Stadium. I don't want to fall into the trap of looking ahead to next season before the week is out, but the younger guys are going to be veterans, the new class will come in with more speed, strength, ability and determination and the Pioneers will have that 0-0 clean slate again. With a plethora of team and individual records set this season, maybe all of that can be put aside and Utica can set another team record...WINS and a playoff birth!
A very big thankyou goes out to Coach Faggiano for being gracious enough to contribute so much this season as well as Christopher Penree for providing the amazing pictures of the Utica College Pioneers. You can buy Utica College Pioneer Photo's from Christopher Penree at Green Couch Studios. And don't forget, if you're interested in attending Utica College and playing for a great program, fill out a Utica College Football Recruiting Form.