All posts by Dillon Meehan

Premier League Recap Week 24

by Evan Sobol

This week’s action included a showdown between two London powerhouses, and a surprising upset by one of the league’s top teams. The defending champions also fell to defeat, continuing their poor form.

Chelsea continued their impressive run and kept their comfortable lead at the top of the table, with their 3-1 victory against Arsenal on Saturday. It was the Gunner’s second straight loss, and the Blues’ third victory in the past four matches.

The home side cut through Arsenal’s defense the entire match. Chelsea got on the board in the 13th minute. A cross into the center of the box found forward Diego Costa. Costa headed the ball towards the goal, but Arsenal goalkeeper Cech rose and blocked it.

Chelsea midfielder Marcos Alonso took advantage of the open space, and headed the deflection into the left side of the net. It was Alonso’s fourth Premier League goal of the season. Belgium international Eden Hazard, scored the most impressive goal of the match in the 53rd minute. Defender David Luiz disrupted a pass intended for the Arsenal offense, and passed up to midfield where Hazard gained possession.

The striker ran alone into the Gunner’s box, where he scored the short-range goal. The superb play was successful thanks to his creative dribbling; he shook at least four defenders on the run. It was Hazard’s 10th goal of the season. He has already surpassed his goal total of four from last season. The Blues’ last score came in the 85th minute thanks to a goalkeeping mistake by Arsenal. Cech gained possession and passed back towards the Arsenal defense. Midfielder Cesc Fabregas, broke up the pass and struck goal with a high strike into the wide-open net. It was the substitute’s second goal of the season.

Arsenal only scored one goal, but had plenty of opportunities. They led Chelsea in possession (58 percent – 42 percent) and took two more corner kicks. Danny Welbeck almost scored off a cross in the 78th minute, but it was saved by Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois. Arsenal’s lone goal came in stoppage time. Forward Olivier Giroud scored on a header into the left side of the box. It was his eight goal of the season.

Chelsea is still in the driver’s seat to win the title. They are currently nine points ahead of second-place Tottenham, and 10 ahead of third-place Manchester City. Their midfield has continued to play well with their strikers, giving them plenty of goal opportunities. Diego Costa is currently tied for second place in league goals with 15. Their next match is on Sunday against Burnley, who currently sits at 12th in the league table.

Following the defeat, Arsenal fell to fourth in the table, two points behind City with 47. They have allowed five goals in the last two matches. They still have slim title chances. Forward Alexis Sanchez has 15 goals on the season. They do not have as tough a test next week as they play 13th-place Southampton.

Arsenal was not the only top club to lose ground in the title race. Liverpool fell 0-2 at Hull City on Saturday. It was the Reds’ second loss in their last five. The result was Hull’s first win since Jan. 14, and helped them with their climb outside of the relegation zone.

Hull was outplayed in every offensive category by Liverpool, including possession and total shots. The Tigers’ first goal came just before halftime in the 44th minute. Loan player Alfred N’Diaye scored a short-range goal, following a block by Liverpool keeper Mignolet. It was the Senegal international’s first career Premier League goal. The midfielder is currently on loan from Spanish club Villarreal CF. Forward Oumar Niasse scored Hull’s second goal in the 84th minute. He ran past two defenders and struck goal with a low strike. It was Niasse’s first career Premier League goal. He is currently on loan from Everton.

Liverpool’s best goal opportunity came in the 56th minute. Forward Sadio Mane met a cross and attempted a header on goal, but it was saved by Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic. The Reds’ could not score on any of their 15 corner opportunities. Hull only had one corner kick.

If Liverpool would like to make a comeback, they need to play better against lower-half teams. They recently lost to Swansea City, who sits at 17th in the table. If they continue their poor form, it will allow someone like Manchester United to gain spots. The Reds fell to fifth in the table and are just one point ahead of United. They face a tough test on Saturday, when they host second-place Tottenham who have won three of their last five.

Hull is an interesting team to look out for down the stretch. They drew against United last week. Their new loan players N’Diaye and Niasse have gotten off to hot starts. If they can continue this form, they can gain at least a few spots.

The three teams in front of them are only ahead by one point. The Tigers need to act soon, or they will be relegated. They face a tough test on Saturday at the Emirates against Arsenal.

Hartford Vying For NHL Team In Recent Letter

By Nicholas Leahey

Connecticut hockey fans, once again, were buzzing Friday after Governor Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor, Luke Bronin, co-signed an open letter to the New York Islanders. They were given an invitation to play in Hartford’s XL Center while they look for a new home after the 2017-18 season.

The letter, which set off a firestorm on social media, has been the latest turn of events. A series of reports have stated that the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn will be terminating their contract with the Islanders after next season, due to financial reasons. It has also given Connecticut hockey fans hope that the National Hockey League may one day return to Hartford.

In the letter, which was addressed to the team’s owner Jon Ledecky, Charles Wang, and Scott Malkin, Governor Malloy and Mayor Bronin reference Connecticut’s current market size and large hockey fan base, to explain why the NHL should return to Hartford. Both politicians offered the XL Center as an option for interim use, while also suggesting the building as “a long-term solution” for the team.

Specifically, the letter explains that the Hartford NHL Market offers more Fortune 500 companies than most other NHL cities, including Columbus, Raleigh, Buffalo and Nashville. It also states that 1.2 million people live within a 30-minute drive of Hartford, while 3.1 million live within a 60-minute drive.

It continues to explain how Hartford’s fan base “is still ranked as one of the NHL’s most energetic”, and acknowledges that the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate is in nearby Bridgeport, allowing for easy access.

In response to the letter, the Islanders issued a statement via tweets from Jim Baumbach of Newsday Friday night, saying “The public letter that the Connecticut Governor’s office released earlier today was the first we had heard of the news … We are thrilled to be playing this season in front of our passionate New York Islanders fan base at Barclays Center, with the goal of making the playoffs. We look forward to another great year of New York Islanders hockey at Barclays Center next season.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, has not publicly commented on the letter, but stated during the NHL All Star Game on Jan. 29. that the Islanders are “committed to New York and the great fan base that has followed the Islanders.” Historically, Bettman has not expressed interest in the Hartford market as the NHL has expanded.

The NHL has not played in Hartford since the Hartford Whalers left in April of 1997, after 17 years of playing in the Connecticut capital. While there have been attempts to attract an NHL team to Hartford, the Governor’s letter marks the latest effort – especially as Hartford moves forward with plans to renovate the XL Center.

In the last paragraph of Malloy and Bronin’s letter, they outline current renovations which are taking place, including the installation of a new ice surface and dasher boards.

The same paragraph of the letter also references Hartford’s current $250 million proposal to renovate the 16,294-seat XL Center. The recent $35 million renovations would add more premium seating in the lower bowl, a second concourse, and a seating increase of roughly 3,000 – large enough, officials say, to house an NHL team.

Free Throw Shooting Bites Blue Devils in 70-60 Loss to Wagner

by Daniel Bates

Central Connecticut men’s basketball team season-long struggles, flourished once again as they fell to Wagner, 70-60, in a Northeast Conference battle . The Blue Devils sported three players in double-figures, but still came up short against the NEC’s number one defense on Thursday night.

The Blue Devils’ (4-18, 2-9 NEC) struggles came from the free throw line, converting only 14 of their 28 chances at the stripe (50 percent).

“It was a close game in calls and fouls,” said CCSU head coach Donyell Marshall. “Last game they had 16 offensive rebounds, today they only had 10, we had 13. At the end of the day it’s free throws.”

Wagner (11-11, 7-5 NEC) came out of the gates early with an 8-2 run to start the game, capped by Corey Henson’s three-pointer, before the Blue Devils would respond with a 10-0 run of their own to take their first lead.

Freshman Tyson Batiste, got things started with a layup to open up the run, capped by senior Khalen Cumberlander’s buzzer-beating three-pointer, as the shot clock expired to put the Blue Devils up 17-12 with 9:52 to go in the first.

The Seahawks took an eight-point lead heading into intermission, 35-27, propelled by a late 13-4 push in the closing minutes of the half. Henson led the charge with six points, including four straight.

But CCSU rallied to cut the lead to 35-32 on sophomore Austin Nehls three-pointer, just minutes into the second half. Michael Carey kick-started the Wagner offense with a pair of free throws. This would be as close as the Blue Devils would get, as Wagner rolled the rest of the way to a victory.

Nehls scored 17 points to the lead the Blue Devils, who hit just 20 of 53 shots from the field but were 6-18 from beyond the arc. Cumberlander added 14 points, and junior Mustafa Jones had 12 points and seven rebounds. Senior Tafari Whittingham cleaned up nine boards to lead the team and match a career high.

Carey had 19 points on eight of 12 shots from the field and grabbed six rebounds to lead Wagner (10-11, 6-5). Henson contributed 13 points as the team shot a collective 22 of 49 from the field (44.9 percent), including four of 14 from deep, and converted 22 of 28 chances at the free throw line.

The Blue Devils kicked off a three game road trip with a win on Saturday, as they beat Mount St. Mary’s 54-52.  With the win, they look to make a late push for the NEC tournament.

“Everything we’ve been through, 13-game losing streak, starting out 0-7 [in conference], this league is so crazy,” Marshall said. “We’re a game out of the eight spot, but truly we’re only three games out of the four spot. Anything can happen.”

Women’s Basketball Drop Second Straight NEC matchup

by Kyle Flynn

Central Connecticut’s  women’s basketball team started their 2017 conference schedule by winning seven of nine games before dropping the 10th to LIU-Brooklyn. The Blue Devils looked to gain some ground in the Northeast Conference standings  as they squared off against the Knights of Mount Saint Mary’s, but lost the game 81-66. The Blue Devils record now stands 8-14, 7-4 NEC.

With a win on Saturday, the Blue Devils would have jumped into third place in the NEC standings.

The higher up in the standings CCSU is by season’s end, the better chance they’ll have at winning the NEC post season tournament. This would earn them a spot in the National Tournament in mid-March. The top eight teams in the conference make the NEC tournament, and the team who finishes first in conference will be crowned the regular season. Both of these are still at stake for CCSU this year.

Looking to get back to their winning ways, the Blue Devils needed to come off the blocks hot, and that is just what they did. After trailing by just a single point at the end of the first quarter, Central outperformed Mount Saint Mary’s by three points in the second quarter, to give themselves a 39-36 lead going into halftime.

Everything was going great for the Blue Devils; it looked as though CCSU would pull away from their foe, who had only won five of 11 conference games coming in. When the second half began, it was clear that Mount Saint Mary’s had made major adjustments at the half.

After such a solid start, the Blue Devils went cold. Scoring just 11 points in the third quarter, and 27 for the entire second half.  A total just three points more than what they had in the second quarter alone. By the time the game had concluded, CCSU was shooting just 38 percent from the field, while missing 13 free throw opportunities.

Mount Saint Mary’s finished the game with 13 steals (10 more than Central) and 9 less turnovers (22 total for Central). The Knights completed off an 18-point swing in the second half by taking the win 81-66, and finishing with six players in double figures.

The Blue Devils were led by Aleah Epps who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists; an outstanding performance in a losing effort. Central proved that depth could be an issue down the stretch in games and in the rest of the season, as they were outscored 38-18 by Mount Saint Mary’s bench players.

Central is sitting in fourth place in conference behind Sacred Heart, Saint Francis and Robert Morris. And are only two games back of the first-place spot.

Mount Saint Mary’s rises to fifth place with the win. The Central women look to get back on track vs Wagner on Monday, before facing first place Sacred Heart on Feb. 11. You can catch the Blue Devil women in action again on Feb. 18,  at 1 p.m. vs Robert Morris, after they complete their four-game stretch of road games.

Trump’s Muslim Ban Hurts More Than Helps

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump issued his seventh executive order in as many days.

His executive order banned refugees from entering the United States for 120 days and citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya Sudan, Syria, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days.

All seven nations are predominately Muslim, yet not a single person has been killed in the U.S. since 9/11 from an extremist from those seven nations.

On top of that, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates – the four nations that the 9/11 terrorists were from – were oddly left off of the list.  Those are also countries that Trump either has, or attempted to do business with.

The ban completely bypasses the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of their national origin.

It is beyond a cliche at this point but the U.S. was founded on immigrants.  We have hundreds of years worth of history proving this exact statement.  Yet this executive order essentially throws all of that away.

Apart from ignoring the history of the U.S., the executive order also is a major threat to our nation’s safety and will yield consequences.

For the past year the power that ISIS holds has been dramatically reduced, and for the past several months the Iraqi military has been fighting ISIS in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq and the last major stronghold being held by ISIS in the nation.  Every day Iraq gets closer to freeing the city, which could break the spine of ISIS.

ISIS uses propaganda and fear to recruit and while they were extremely successful in the past, luckily that is no longer the case. Yet this ban will simply give ISIS unlimited ammo for thousands of now forgotten about Middle Eastern young adults.  Which could reverse all of the hard work which has been done over the past year.

Over the past year we have stepped on the throat of the ISIS, yet this ban could very well have just picked them up, dusted off their shoulders and let them go.

In addition to putting more power in the hands of terrorist groups over seas, the executive order is simply inhumane. It denies entry to this country to continue a safe life. A quality this country was founded on, and prides itself over, stripped away for a reason that seems personal to President Trump.

The executive order seems to yield consequences that will hurt the U.S. and refugees seeking a safe haven, solely to benefit President Trump’s agenda which disregards the fact that no one in the U.S. has been killed by an extremist from those seven countries since 9/11.