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College Power 10: Erie CC programs on a roll

Erie Community College has four fall sports teams, and they’re all on a roll to start the season.

The Kats dominate this week’s “College Power 10,” a ranking of the top Western New York collegiate teams in all sports and all divisions.

1. Pete Jerebko, Erie CC athletic director. Jerebko’s teams are a combined 22-4. Men’s soccer is undefeated (7-0), women’s soccer stands 6-1, women’s volleyball is 7-2 and football is 2-1.

Erie CC AD Peter Jerebko

Erie CC AD Peter Jerebko

Jerebko, in his 11th year as Erie AD, hired football coach Scott Pilkey and men’s soccer coach John Grabowski before the 2015 season. Both have made quick impacts. Jerebko, aka “Pistol Pete,” upgraded women’s soccer coach Gary Boughton from a part-time to full-time position last year.

Both soccer teams had three-win seasons in 2014. Boughton had been an Erie assistant for four years before taking over in 2014. As part of his full-time assignment, he also now coaches women’s lacrosse. Boughton won regional coach-of-the-year honors in both soccer and lacrosse last season. Pilkey last year directed the Kats’ first winning season since 2007.

2. Erie CC volleyball.  The Kats swept through nine-straight sets over the weekend in winning three matches. With wins against Hudson Valley CC, North Country CC and SUNY Adirondack, Erie won by nearly 100 combined points (227-130). Five of the nine set-wins were by double-digit margins.

Thus continued a turnaround season, with 14 regular-season matches still to go. The Kats were 8-20-2 in 2015. Karly Kurkowiak (Immaculata) and Kirstie Hall (Frontier) produced more than 50 percent of the team’s digs with 47 and 18, respectively. Kirstie Hall (28) and Kalee Martin (22) accounted for 50 of the team’s 87 kills. Martin (Cheektowaga) also had six blocks. The Kats host Mercyhurst Thursday.

3. Erie CC men’s soccer. Brandon Horton scored three goals in a 4-1 win over Tompkins Cortland CC last week to keep the Kats unbeaten. Horton has five goals and two assists in seven games. The Kats visit Niagara County CC at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

4. Erie CC women’s soccer. Kallie Smith (East Aurora) and Mackenzie Neary (Lancaster) scored in a 2-0 win over Tompkins Cortland last week. Goalie Alex Zentz (Fredonia) got Erie’s fifth shutout of the season. Erie visits Niagara County at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

5. Canisius men’s basketball. Coach Reggie Witherspoon last week secured a late-addition to the roster, adding 6-foot-3 shooting guard Martin Dixon-Green. He’s a Toronto native who was rated the seventh-best shooting guard in Canada in the Class of 2012 but he hasn’t played for three years due to health issues.

The Griffs need a perimeter shooter off the bench. The Griffs have only six returnees from last season. If point guard Chris Atkinson and wing Kiefer Douse move up to starting roles this season (and there are open spots for them), then the Griffs won’t have a single backup who made a three-pointer last season.

Dixon-Green averaged 7 minutes and 4.2 points as a freshman for powerhouse Indian Hills CC in 2012-13. There’s no shame in those numbers. All five starters from that Indian Hills team went on to start for Power 5 Conference teams. The sixth man on that team? That was Justin Moss, who led the University at Buffalo to the NCAA Tournament two years ago.

6. UB men’s soccer. The Bulls lost for the first time, 3-0, at South Florida Sunday after opening the campaign with seven straight wins. USF has made the NCAA Tournament eight of the past nine years and was picked to finish second in the American Athletic Conference.

On Thursday UB beat Niagara, 3-0. Russell Cicerone scored twice. UB plays host to St. Bonaventure at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

7. UB women’s cross country. UB freshman Stephanie Ward finished second in the 6K at the UB Stampede Invitational Friday. Ward helped the UB women’s team to a second-place finish behind Duquesne in the six-team event. Ward’s time was 21:29.20. Sophomore Rachel Barich and junior Morgan Mahoney placed sixth and eighth, respectively for UB. Sophomore Andrew Berge placed fourth on the men’s side for UB.

8. Buffalo State women’s soccer. The Bengals got goals from Melissa Smith (Niagara Wheatfield), Tianna Hatch, Breanna Knight in a 3-0 win over D’Youville. The Bengals (4-1-2) tied Union, 1-1, two days earlier, with Smith getting the goal.

9. Erie CC football. The Kats were off last week and visit Brockport’s JV at 1 p.m. Sunday.

10. Fredonia men’s soccer. The Blue Devils improved to 4-1-1 last week with a 2-1 win over Geneva. Jimmie Ritchie and Ryan Keller, both from East Aurora, scored for Fredonia.

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