The defending Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion Chapman Panthers came into the 2015 season with a big target on their backs. Their season got off to a rough start, losing their first three games, two of which were to tough non-conference opponents Linfield and Whitworth. After a loss to Claremont on homecoming, Chapman got its first win of the season defeating Pomona-Pitzer on the road. The Panthers closed out the season winning three of their last four, finishing at 4-5 overall, 4-3 in conference, tied for third place.
It was a memorable season for senior running back Jeremiah McKibbins. He leaves Chapman as the school’s all-time leading rusher at 3,249 yards. He also holds records for most touchdowns in a game, season and career, as well as most yards in a game when he rushed for 265 yards in a win against California Lutheran. He finished the 2015 season with 1,085 yards rushing to go along with 19 touchdowns.
Senior receiver Sean Myers also had a season to remember, coming in third in the conference with 716 receiving yards to go along with seven touchdowns.
The team loses 21 seniors to graduation next year. Head coach Bob Owens says those seniors will be missed.
“These guys that are walking away, they’ve been champions, they’ve been the winning-est team in the conference the last four years,” Owens said. “There have been some incredible things that have happened with this senior group. I’m just glad they took me along for the ride.”
The Chapman men’s soccer team had one of its most successful seasons in the program’s history, despite getting off to a slow start.
The team started off 3-4-3 before closing out the season winning eight of its last nine, coming second in conference, allowing the Panthers to host a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoff game for the first time in school history. However, the Panthers fell to La Verne 1-0, marking an end to their season and finishing 12-6-3, 11-4-1 in conference.
Five players were awarded with all-conference honors, highlighted by senior midfielder Boston Kimmel who was named Athlete of the Year. Junior midfielder Marco Saglimbeni joined Kimmel on the First Team while junior defender Connor Tobia and sophomore defenders Elliot Braund and Lorenzo Belassen earned Second Team recognition.
Kimmel scored seven goals to go along with seven assists on the season while Saglimbeni led the team with nine goals. The duo was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-West Region team for the 2015 season. Kimmel earned second team honors for the second time in his career while Saglimbeni was honored for the first time.
“We definitely got off to a rough start as we were trying different formations and lineups, but we hit our stride mid season and just kept rolling, coming through the second half of the season with only one loss,” Kimmel said.
It was a tough season for the Chapman women’s soccer team, who start off the season 4-1 before losing seven of its next eight games. Overall, the team finished 6-11-2, 2-10-2 in conference, finishing dead last in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Senior midfielder Haley Fedden had another strong season to finish out her career. She anchored the team’s midfield and broke the school record for most minutes played in Chapman history with more than 6,500 minutes played in her four-year career.
She earned all-conference recognition three times, including being named to the First Team ballot twice. She was also named to the Second Team All-West Region in 2015 for the second time in her career.
Chapman scored just 28 goals in 19 games, led by six from junior midfielder Julia Diaz.
Despite losing Fedden, Chapman will return a core nucleus next season, something that is encouraging for head coach Courtney Calderon.
“We didn’t get the result as we wanted on the field, but we won in so many ways off the field,” Calderon said. “They’re a great group of women and I have high expectations of this team for the future.”
Coming off of the most successful season in school history, expectations were high for the Chapman men’s water polo team. Despite losing a lot of seniors from that team, as well as a few key players to injury in 2015, the Panthers still finished fourth in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference at 15-12, 7-4 in conference.
The team made it to the conference tournament tied for the second seed, but lost to both Claremont and Redlands in the tournament, finishing in fourth.
Two Panthers were honored with all-conference honors. Senior utility Willis Allen earned First Team honors while senior goalie Stephen Neil earned a spot on the Second Team. Both earned all-conference honors for the first time in their respective careers.
Allen scored a team-high of 76 goals, while Neil finished the season with a school record 290 blocks.
“This overall season exceeded what I expected,” said head coach Eric Ploessel. “We lost a lot of seniors and leaders off this team from last year that was the best team in program history. This season we ended up having the second most wins in program history. We are still a very young team and the future is very bright for us.”
Senior outside hitter Michele Hammer led the Panthers with 253 kills on the season to go along with 281 digs. Sophomore right side hitter Kylie Cooke had an impressive sophomore campaign finishing with 247 kills. Junior setter Jade Santos led the team with 301 digs.
While the season didn’t exactly go as planned, the team sent off its six seniors by sweeping Occidental 25-21, 25-18, 25-13 in its final game.
“A lot of focus was put into team chemistry with all the new and young talent,” Cooke said. “This year was a transition year for us that will set us up for success in the next couple years.”