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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Haven, SCSU both in playoff mode

By Bill Cloutier
Assistant Sports Editor
bcloutier@nhregister.com
NEW HAVEN — For the past two years not one team from the Northeast-10 Conference has reached the NCAA Division II football playoffs.
This year two teams could earn a berth, and they’re both from the area.
New Haven was ranked first when the initial 2011 regional rankings were released on Monday. Southern Connecticut State was ranked seventh. The top six teams in the final rankings earn a berth in the playoffs.
Both teams have been winning on the edge lately. New Haven (7-1, 5-0 NE-10) is ranked 13th nationally in the latest Division II poll. It’s a fantastic start which should give them wiggle room down the stretch. Even if New Haven loses one of its final two games, the Chargers should still earn a playoff berth.
“I would think that would happen,” New Haven coach Peter Rossomando said. “The last couple of years the top seed has lost a game and still made the playoffs.”
But New Haven will have to run the table to secure the one of the top two seeds which carries with it a first-round bye and at least one
See Playoffs, D3
home game.
“I was surprised that we were ahead of Bloomsburg,” Rossomando said. “They’re undefeated and we’ve got one loss but I really haven’t poured over their schedule. We must have a better strength of schedule.”
Rossomando is not counting on anything right now. Not No. 1 seeds or even sneaking into the playoffs.
“Last year we were No. 6 and lost the last game so I’m not counting on anything until Nov. 14 (when the final rankings are released).”
New Haven edged Bentley 45-38 last week.
“I wasn’t really happy with how we played last week but I give a lot of credit to the guys who’ve worked hard to pull it out,” Rossomando said.
The Chargers have gotten an MVP-type season from quarterback Ryan Osiecki. The Seymour native has thrown for 21 touchdowns and run for another six on the season.
“He’s really made a steady progression,” Rossomando said. “The first year the numbers were skewed because we were behind so much and had to throw the ball all the time, and last year our running game was so strong (it also affected his numbers). This year he’s done a great job of taking what the defense has given him and his numbers are solid.”
Across town at Southern Connecticut, the Owls have become have become a team not for the faint of heart.
Southern (6-2, 5-1 NE-10) has trailed in every game except its 61-0 win over Pace.
Last week the Owls had to rally back from a 12-point deficit with just 5 minutes remaining on the way to a thrilling 48-47 win against American International on its homecoming day.
Cavanaugh still has faith in its defense but the unit has surrendered just under 40 points a game over the past four games.
“We have leveled off lately,” Cavanaugh said. “What was making us a good defense is that we were opportunistic. We forced a lot of turnovers. Last week we forced a couple of fumbles which was key but we didn’t have any interceptions. We’ve got to get back to playing with more confidence and being more physical.”
Like any other football coach Cavanaugh preaches taking it one game at a time but he is hopeful that two more wins to complete the season will hand his team in the postseason.
“The only thing that we have control of is winning the last two,” he said. “It looks to me that certain teams that are ahead of us (in the rankings) have to play each other so that’s a plus for us.”
Southern has not made the playoffs since 2008 when it capped a streak of four straight years in the postseason.

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