Tag Archives: Saint Xavier Cougars


 Yes, it’s Balladeer’s Blog’s preseason rankings for the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) football teams. The NAIA has so many potent football teams from top to bottom I’ll be doing an entire Top 25 for them every week instead of my usual Top 12.

The football season in the NAIA kicks off on August 24th, and as always Balladeer’s Blog will be there covering the action all season long.

 The reigning national champions, the Saint Xavier University Cougars will begin defending their title soon with Dianne “The Cougar” Zajdel cheering them on. Coach Mike Feminis’ boys are fresh off their first national football crown but they are not the top team in my rankings here in the preseason.

Based on overall performance over the past several years the C.C. Fighting Saints, last year’s runners- up, are at number 1. The Hellions from Helena, as I call them, have earned a name for football excellence season after season and have won six of the last ten national championships and played in eight of those ten title games. Teams named Cougars have been a hurdle for C.C., with the University of Sioux Falls Cougars and Chicago’s own SXU Cougars being the only two teams to defeat the Fighting Saints in Rome, GA, the home of the NAIA Championship Game.

Coach Fem’s boys are at number two, with the entire Top 25 looking like this:

1. C.C. Fighting Saints   ###   2. SXU Cougars (defending champs)   ###   3. Georgetown (KY) Tigers   ###   4. Marian University Knights   ###   5. MidAmerica Nazarene University Pioneers   ###   6. Morningside Mustangs   ###   7. Continue reading


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 The ST XAVIER UNIVERSITY COUGARS dethroned the defending NAIA college football champions the CC FIGHTING SAINTS in a 24- 20 game for the ages. I throw the term “Instant Classic” around with giddy abandon here at Balladeer’s Blog, but there’s no denying the fact that this game lived up to that label. Both teams played focused, virtually mistake- free football that the attendees in Rome, GA will be telling their grandchildren about. The Cougars lost to the Fighting Saints in the semi- finals last season but Continue reading


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 The Sioux Falls Cougars rolled to a 27-7 victory over the McKendree Bearcats led by running back “Magic” Kristian Porter and by a Cougar D that  only  allowed  100 total yards for the  Bearcats.   Porter rushed for 108 yds and 3 touchdowns. Magic Kristian was named the Offensive Player of the Game and the Defensive Player was “Smilin'” Dan Schmeicher, who had 8 Continue reading


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 The SXU Cougars are riding high right now. They’re 10-0 with the regular season about to end this coming Saturday against the University of St Francis. They’re ranked 3rd in the nation in the NAIA and their players have been setting individual and team records almost on a weekly basis. With the playoffs just over the horizon I figured it would be a good time to let Balladeer’s Blog’s readers get to know some of the SXU stars a little better. To that end I temporarily shelved my campaign to get them to change their name to “The Saint Xavier Cougats” (I’m kidding!) and with the kind cooperation of the SXU athletics administrators got answers to some questions that have been keeping Americans up late at night. The players’ names are familiar to regular readers of this blog so without further ado (Or Freddie Adu for that matter) let’s dive in.

 Anthony Kropp

Position: Quarterback

Official Balladeer’s Blog Nickname: Continue reading


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SXU's Mike Maher Official Balladeer's Blog nickname: "M Squared"


Let’s get to the bottom of the latest sports scandal: a college football player with no arrest record leads the entire nation in scoring! Mike Maher, better known to my readers as “M Squared” in stories about the Saint Xavier Cougars leads all college scoring. The following courtesy of the SXU Sports Information Department: 

CHICAGO – If asked to guess where college football’s top scorer is playing this season, most fans and followers would likely choose a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) school or maybe even a NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program with a rich history of football success.  However, the real answer lies at a small NAIA institution nestled in the south suburbs of Chicago.  Saint Xavier University senior wide receiver Mike Maher (Plainfield, Ill./Providence Catholic) has posted 78 points over four games this season behind 13 touchdowns (10 receptions, three kick returns).  The next highest scorer is NCAA Division II University of Minnesota-Duluth’s senior running back Isaac Odim, who has tallied 60 points (10 TDs) over three games.  

In terms of scoring average, Maher ranks third (19.5 points per game) in all of college football (all divisions, including junior college) behind NCAA Division III Thomas More College’s (Ky.) freshman running back Domonique Hayden with 54 points over two games (27.0 points per game) and Odim (20.0 ppg).  Maher has had the start to his senior season that every college student-athlete dreams about.  He currently has 31 receptions for 508 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns (three off kick returns).  The 5-10, 185-pound speedster has also returned either a kickoff or a punt for a score in each of his last three games and, most importantly, his team is off to a 4-0 start and ranked No. 4 in the latest NAIA Top 25 Football Coaches’ Poll.  Maher’s 508 receiving yards this fall currently ranks him No. 2 among all college football institutions in total receiving yards behind only NCAA Division III Wittenberg University (Ohio) junior wideout Josh McKee.  McKee has 514 receiving yards in three games after Saturday’s big game that saw him finish with 318 yards and five touchdowns in a 37-7 win over Washington-St. Louis (Mo.). 

“Mike is an absolutely dominant player at our level,” said SXU football coach Mike Feminis.  “In my mind, he’s a Division I-type caliber athlete who, luckily for us, slipped through the cracks.  We give a “Play of the Day” award after each game and we might as well rename it the “Maher Play of the Day,” because he wins it just about every week.  Mike’s a human highlight reel, but what makes him so special is his incredible work ethic and desire to be successful.  The only negative about Mike is that he’s too hard on himself.  He hates to fail.  Every coach uses the phrase, ‘play every play like it’s your last.’  That’s Mike Maher in a nutshell.” 

 Maher will get the chance to add to his scoring total on Saturday, September 25, when the Cougars head to Quincy, Ill., to take on Quincy University (Ill.) in a Mid-States Football Association (MSFA) crossover match-up.  The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff.


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The University of Science and Arts Of Oklahoma Drovers men’s soccer team is 4-0 and is now ranked #10 in the NAIA, the team’s highest ranking ever. This past weekend the Drovers defeated the Brescia Bearcats 3-1 and the St Thomas Celts 8-2. Nicolas “The Frenchman Freshman” Alberto (as I like to call him) has had 4 goals already on the season followed closely by the “NC Hammer” duo of Nikola Cakarevic and Niall Crick who have 3 goals each. Last year’s leading scorer David “Dr Drover” Otieno has had 2 goals and 4 assists in this young season. Goalkeeper Ryan “Force Field” Mcentee has played every minute of all 4 games so far and has allowed only 3 goals. The Drovers are the only Sooner Athletic Conference team in the NAIA Top 25 and are #1 in the conference standings.

You can’t cut it much closer than “Close Shave” Shelby Cummins did as she scored the winning goal for the Franklin and Marshall Diplomats women’s soccer team 3-2 over the Elizabethtown Blue Jays. Cummins scored the goal off an assist from “Kickin'” Carley Nicholson with just .9 of a second left in the game. The Diplomats are now 3-1 on the season. F&M had a 2-nil halftime lead which held up until the 71st minute of the game when the Blue Jays got on the board. They scored again less than 5 minutes later to knot the game up at 2 all and setting the stage for Cummins’ heroics. Diplomats goalkeeper Katie “Fort Katie” Golding had 4 saves and improved her personal record to 3-1. The ladies next play the Ursinus Bears on Sept 21st.***On the men’s side for the Diplomats Zach “Dr Z” Zamek became the all-time shutouts leader for F&M with 19 following a 3-nil win over the Lycoming Warriors. Dr Z is now tied on the all-time wins list for the Diplomats, too and can try to set the new wins record on the 19th against the Muhlenberg Mules.

For the 2nd straight week, Saint Xavier Cougars’ goalkeeper “Wild” Kyle Held has been “held” over as the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Player Of The Week. Wild Kyle had 8 saves in SXU‘s only game of the week, a 2-nil victory over the Goshen Maple Leafs. Held has had 26 saves and 2 shutouts for the season. He has a Goals Against Average of just .82 per game and the Cougars are 3-2 overall. SXU opens conference play this Friday on the road against the Saint Francis (IN) Cougars.

The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays women’s soccer team shut out the Stevenson Mustangs 2- nil this afternoon at Caves Athletic Complex. Sarah “The Sentinel” Gieszl scored her 1st career goal and “Power Puff” Pamela Vranis had the other JHU goal plus an assist. The Blue Jays have now posted back-to-back shutouts and at 5-1 are ranked 8th in the D3 women’s soccer poll. With the loss the Stevenson Mustangs drop to 3-3.

 The St Ambrose Fighting Bees men’s soccer team won in overtime against the St Francis (IL) Fighting Saints 2-1 at the Davenport Soccer Complex. The Fighting Bees went into halftime leading 1-nil on a KEndrick Tyson goal but gave up the tying goal in the 2nd half. St Ambrose goalie “Mighty” Matt Tucker had 5 furious saves in the 2nd half which kept the FIghting Bees’ hopes alive. Wes Erickson fulfilled those hopes 4 minutes and 6 seconds into OT by slamming home the winning goal for the home team.

Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams for the Lincoln Memorial University Railsplitters registered wins today! The Lady Railsplitters improved their record to 4-0 with a road win over the King College Tornado (singular) by a score of 2-nil. Sarah “The Midfield Maniac” Taylor had both LMU goals, one in the 25th minute off an assist from Becky “Tigress” Thompson and the other barely 11 minutes later off an assist from “Lethal” Leslie Wilson. 3 of the ladies’ team’s 4 wins have been shutouts. ***The men’s Railsplitters team beat out their counterparts from King College 1-nil to move to 3-0 on the season. Just like the ladies’ team all but 1 of their wins have been shutouts. “Gentleman” Jimmy Vandenhurk scored the lone goal of the match 5 minutes in off an assist from Mackenzie “Aces” Wilde. Railsplitters goalkeeper Michael “Brick Wall” Watkins then did his part by crushing every Tornado scoring attempt.

Kelly “Sunstorm” Sunstrom propeled the Alverno Inferno soccer team to a 1-nil victory over the Robert Morris (IL) Eagles today. Sunstrom scored in the 80th minute off an assist from “Kosho” Kelsey Koshanowski (Fans of The Prisoner will get it). It was Sunstorm’s 1st goal of the season and Kosho’s 2nd assist. The Inferno are now 3-0 and will try to burn the feathers off another Eagles team this Saturday at Wisconsin-Lacrosse.


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 The Lindenwood Lions men’s soccer team upset the Top-ranked Lindsey-Wilson Blue Raiders by a score of 2-1. The Lions led 1-nil at half-time off a goal by Hannes Backstrom. Two minutes in to the 2nd half Blue Raiders player Carnell Learmond tied the game up but in the 74th minute Simon Harrsen scored the game-winner for Lindenwood.  

 The 8th-ranked Johns Hopkins Blue Jays women’s soccer team went into Wednesday night’s game against the top-ranked Messiah Falcons undefeated at 2-0, but unfortunately came out with a 2-1 loss. Messiah (Insert your own “Where’s your Messiah now?” joke here) scored their 1st goal agains the Blue Jays in the 38th minute when Lisa Wingard one-timed a goal past JHU‘s goaltender Kristen Redsun. That was the first goal the Blue Jays gave up this season after 3-nil and 5-nil victories in their 1st 2 games of the year.  Just 80 seconds into the 2nd half the Falcons made it a 2-nil game off a goal by Amanda Naeher.Just over 2 minutes later Sara Tankard cut the Falcons’ lead in half but it wasn’t quite enough. 

 In a week in which Saint Xavier Cougars goalie “Wild” Kyle Held was named Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Defensive Player Of The Week it seems appropriate that he should register his 2nd shutout of this young season. The Cougars won 2-nil against the Goshen Maple Leafs (You’re dying for a “Land’O’Goshen” joke but I’m not playing that game). Both goalies had rejected all shots on goal until the 80th minute when SXU’s Al Palar provided the 1st goal of the game. “Mighty” Matt Klancic provided an insurance goal 4 minutes later to improve the Cougars to 3-2 on the season.

 Reece Harris, freshman goalie for the Park University Pirates men’s soccer team, notched his 2nd career win Wednesday night against the Lindenwood Lions by a score of 2-1. Harris blocked 7 shots and both Pirate goals were scored by striker Ramone Palmer, 1 of them off a pass from midfielder Simon Senfuka. For Park Pirates video highlights visit their Youtube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/parkathletics .


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If you’re new to Balladeer’s Blog let me start by telling you that I refer to the Mid-States Football Association as “The Association” just like Jim Rome does with the NBA. “Reee-DIK-ulous” I know, but what can I say? 

Anyway, Saint Xavier University has been picked in the preseason MSFA poll to win the Mideast League, garnering 62 points and 6 first-place votes. In the national picture, the NAIA Football Coaches Poll was released and Saint Xavier was in the number four spot in the Top 25. Last year the Cougars had the best season in program history, going a perfect 11-0 in the regular season, winning their first MidEast League title in The Association and making it all the way to the quarter-finals in the playoffs, losing to eventual national champs the Sioux Falls Cougars. 

Recently I interviewed St Xavier Head Football Coach Mike Feminis for my tell-all book about NAIA sports titled: Why Are Half The Teams In The Top 25 Called The Cougars? (NAIA fans will get it). Eventually, after the coach told me I represented the future of blogging (Or maybe I was the one who blurted that out. It’s all lost in a bourbon haze now) the conversation eventually turned to his team’s 2010 season:

“I know we will be the team that is circled on everyone’s schedule in the MSFA (AKA The Association) and that’s fine with us” Coach Feminis said. 

I interrupted the coach with an observation that if his team ever felt the need to appeal to more female fans a good slogan would be “You can’t spell ‘feminist’ without ‘Feminis'” but he just ignored me and continued.

“I honestly believe we should be even better than last year but you don’t win a national championship on paper. The talent is definitely there and I really like what I’ve seen so far in camp…That game against Sioux Falls left a bitter taste in their mouths.”

I asked if that was a not-so-subtle jab at those so-called “Cougar Chips” that USF sells at their concession stand but he indicated that it was actually  a reference to his players’ feelings about the playoff loss. 

To take a look at the full NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 just read below:

1. Sioux Falls Cougars
2. Lindenwood Lions
3. Carroll College (MT) Fighting Saints
4. Saint Xavier Cougars
5. Morningside Mustangs
T6. MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers
T6. Lambuth Eagles
8. McKendree Bearcats
9. Ottawa (KS) Braves
10. Missouri Valley Vikings
11. Cumberlands Patriots
12. McPherson Bulldogs
13. Hastings Broncos
14. Minot State Beavers
15. Friends Falcons
16. Walsh Cavaliers
17. Saint Francis Cougars
18. Dickinson State Blue Hawks
19. Langston Lions
20. Grand View Vikings
21. Eastern Oregon Mountaineers
22. Taylor Trojans
23. Northwestern (IA) Red Raiders
24. Baker Wildcats
25. Northwestern Oklahoma State Rangers 
For the full text of Coach Feminis’ response to my suggestion that he change his team’s name to “The Saint Xavier Cougats” click here: http://www.sxu.edu/athletics/  

Balladeer’s Blog is not affiliated with or operated by the NAIA or the NCAA or any of their member institutions. 

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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