Over the past several seasons, the women’s basketball team has admittedly not been one of the strongest Cardinal squads. But in the 2011-12 season, a trio of talented and committed seniors began a resurgence that has put the team on the right track, and this year the squad could solidify its place in the competitive NESCAC.
Judging by last season’s solid stats, the Wesleyan women’s basketball team will prove to be a definite threat this year. Two huge come-from-behind victories in non-conference play against New York University and Emmanuel College last season proved that the Cardinals have the heart, depth, and determination to win in high-pressure situations. The squad is also looking to reprise its wins over conference rivals Trinity, Bates, Conn College, Middlebury, and Hamilton. It will no doubt add even more NESCAC wins to this already strong list.
With the graduation of Eileen Gaffney ’12 and Sam LaCroce ’12, the team’s two leading scorers last season, there is plenty of opportunity for a large crop of juniors and a talented handful of sophomores to take charge. The team is lead by its lone senior and captain, Kendra Harris. Her strong presence in the paint will provide the Cardinals with a much-needed experienced player close to the basket.
Underneath the basket, Harris will be joined by the duo Jess Cherenza ’15 and Cherkira Lashley ’15. Both of these players had a strong showing last season and will be sure to rack up inside points and offensive rebounds. Looking to make their marks in the NESCAC, Carly Fienman ’16, Kaylee Williams ’16, and Naomi Oyakhilome ’16 will help give the Cardinals a strong front court.
In the backcourt, Sarah Doelger ’14, set to return from abroad in the second semester, will prove to be a threat. Her teammates Miller Hartsoe ’15 and Dreisen Heath ’15 will also lend a hand in building a strong Cardinal offense. Much lauded first-year talent Jackie Browne ’16 will also help to rack up the points with her strong outside shooting.
The junior trio of Jenna Klaes, KellyAnn Rooney, and Amber Wessells will lead the Cardinals defensively. Last season, they each racked up defensive rebounds and quite a few blocked shots.
The Cardinals are coached by seasoned veteran Kate Mullen, who is now in her twenty-first year at Wesleyan. With nine NESCAC tournament appearances and a conference Coach of the Year award, Mullen leads this talented young team with experience and insight.
Tremendous talent coupled with a seasoned coach proves promising for Wesleyan women’s basketball. Regarding the team’s good outlook for the season, Hartsoe noted, “Our team has put in tremendous work and effort all preseason and is now looking forward to continuing that through the regular season. We have a great combination of both veterans and underclassmen that is meshing together nicely. We are excited to build on our winning record from last season, and emerge as a dominant NESCAC team.”
The Cardinals will get their first chance to prove themselves on the court at the St. Joseph’s Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 16. There they will face off in non-conference play against Purchase College and will move on to meet either Fisher College or host-school St. Joseph’s College.