Athletic fields on college campuses are coming to life across Worcester as we head into the 2023-24 academic year. Here are just a few teams that local sports fans should keep their eyes on as we head into another season of NCAA action!
Holy Cross: The Talk of The Town
While dozens of collegiate sports teams across Worcester are getting geared up to start their seasons, one squad is clearly leading the city in hype: the Holy Cross football team.
Last year, the Crusaders compiled a perfect regular season and made it all the way to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs before losing to eventual champions South Dakota State in the quarterfinals. In 2023, they’ll look to build off that success while attempting to earn a fifth consecutive postseason bid.
Holy Cross has ten returning all-conference players from last season, including senior quarterback Mathew Sluka. Last year, Sluka was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award – which is awarded to the best offensive player in the FCS subdivision – and he’s ranked 5th among all-FCS level quarterbacks heading into 2023.
Known for his ability to score with his legs as well as his arm, Sluka rushed for 1,234 yards last season – the most of any FCS-level quarterback.
While the Crusaders have a ton of returning firepower, they’ll need all the help they can get against what should be a challenging schedule. There’s a ton of potential great matchups on their schedule this year, but the game that has everyone talking is the Edward Bennett Williams Holy Cross Football Classic at Polar Park.
The third annual edition of this contest will once again see the baseball diamond be transformed into a gridiron, as the Crusaders face off against the legendary Harvard Crimson on Saturday, September 30th at 5pm.
While the football team is getting most of the attention over on The Hill, Crusader fans should also keep a close eye on the women’s basketball team; they compiled a 24-9 record last year on their way to a Patriot League championship and an NCAA tournament bid.
Assumption Looking to Add to City’s Hockey Scene, Continue Football Success
It should be noted that Holy Cross is no longer the only college in Worcester that fields at least one Division I team, as the Women’s ice hockey program at Assumption University will begin playing in the D1 New England Women’s Hockey Alliance conference starting this fall.
The Greyhounds begin their season against Rochester Institute of Technology at the Worcester Ice Center on Friday, September 29th at 6:50pm.
Moving from the ice back to the gridiron, it should also be noted that the Assumption football team had a successful season last year. The Greyhounds compiled an 8-3 record in the regular season, before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Slippery Rock University (yes, that’s a real college).
They’ll hope for another playoff berth this year as they kick off their 2023 campaign at Brian Kelly ‘83 Stadium in Worcester on September 2nd against Kutztown University (which I also swear is a real school).
Division III Teams Making Worcester Proud
Worcester’s Division III schools also deserve some love. The men’s basketball program at Worcester State is looking to have another successful season after going 22-6 and making the NCAA Division III tournament in 2022.
Meanwhile, the women’s soccer program at Clark University is looking to build off of last year’s 12-6-2 record that saw them fall just one game short of a tournament bid.
There’s certainly no shortage of college athletic action to check out in Worcester during this upcoming academic year, so be sure to head to a particular school’s athletic website to find full schedules for your sport of choice.