BY CHRISTIAN RODRIGUEZ
The Sacred Heart football team’s schedule for this upcoming fall has been released. The Pioneers will be opening their season on Sept. 1 at Campus Field against Lafayette College. The schedule features five home games for Sacred Heart including a game against the University of Pennsylvania.
This will be the first ever encounter between the two teams as they will meet on Oct. 6, which will be the Homecoming and Breast Cancer Awareness game.
“When you play schools from the Ivy League and the Patriot League, you’re talking about schools that have had football programs for over 100 years,” said head coach Mark Nofri. “They’re rich in tradition and it provides a good atmosphere for a true football game.”
By not having Stony Brook University and Stetson University in the schedule for next season, this has provided the Pioneers to face new opponents and play talented teams from the Ivy League and Patriot League conferences.
“We have a lot of Ivy League schools this year and a couple of Patriot League schools which provide for some very good competition,” said rising senior captain Christian LoDolce. “What’s nice about it is that those games serve as tune-ups and add to a cool atmosphere within the season to get ready for the conference games.”
After the Pioneers open the season at home for Heroes Day, they will have three consecutive away games at Bucknell University, Cornell University, and a Northeast Conference (NEC) game against Wagner College.
“The games we have that are on the road are not too far and are at the beginning of the season, which is good so you’re not as tired and worn down as you are at the end of the season,” said LoDolce.
The Pioneers have struggled against their in-state rivals, Central Connecticut State University (CCSU), in recent years and are looking to beat the defending NEC champions when they play them away on Oct. 20.
“We have a rivalry with them and all the in-conference teams. None of the losses felt good from last season, but the loss against Central Connecticut State in particular really stood out to me,” said rising senior Andrew Starr.
It’s been since four years since Sacred Heart has last won the NEC Championship, winning it two times in back-to-back years from 2013-14.
“The ultimate goal is to win the NEC, and I think some of the reasons when you break it down is having a winning season and having the young kids step up, which is important for the long run of the program,” said Nofri.
With the team already working hard this spring in preparation for the fall, the Pioneers are ambitious for a strong season.
“We can play that underdog role, we can blow anyone out of the water, I think this team has a lot of upsides and we can do lots of great things,” said Starr.
Other notable games include a home game against Bryant University on Oct. 27, which will be Family Weekend and a chance to promote mental health awareness. On Nov. 3 the Pioneers will be facing Robert Morris University, celebrating Military Family Appreciation Day.
The Pioneers will conclude their season at home on Nov. 17 against Saint Francis University, which will be Senior Day.