NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University women's basketball is primed to hit the hardcourt for the 2019-20 season. The Cadets will tip off the season on the road against intrastate rival Castleton University on Saturday, November 9.
This will be the 45th season for the women's basketball program and the 11th under Head Coach Mark Zacher who boasts a 142-122 career record along with eight post-season appearances which include two trips to the GNAC Championship.
Last year's squad finished with an 8-16 overall record and a 3-9 mark in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC). 2018-19 was a developmental year of sorts that saw several underclassmen make significant contributions. Despite some inexperience, last year's edition competed hard as evidenced by its seven losses by just 10 points or less.
Norwich will return 11 players from last year's team, including incumbent captain KristieAnn DeSilvio (Chelmsford, Mass.) and her senior classmate Sara Bradley (Sunnyside, N.Y.), who have both provided good leadership during the preseason. The team will welcome back senior post-player Katie Dixon (Revere, Mass.) who missed last year with an injury. The seniors are supported with a great cast of juniors in Riley Bennett (Hopkinton, N.H.), Kailynne Frederick (Adams, Mass.), Emily Schromm (North Attleboro, Mass.), Caileigh Travers (Valley Cottage, N.Y.), and Julia Vigorito (Malden, Mass.). Sophomores Sandra Carlsten (Bandhage, Sweden), Hattie Moriarty (Stowe, Vt.), and Hannah Stitely (Westminster, Md.) will be asked to step up their games this year after assimilating to the speed and physicality of the college game last season.
Six new players, consisting of four freshmen and two upperclassmen, will don a Cadet uniform for the first time in 2019-20. Freshmen Katelyn DeSilvio (Chelmsford, Mass.), Brittany Graham (Rye, N.H.), Alexis Matte (Lebanon, N.H.), and Jade Wimbish (Washington, D.C.) will wear the maroon and gold as first-year players while junior Madison Bettis (Helotes, Texas) and senior Brianna Dawson (Katonah, N.Y.) add their experience to the lineup.
With the team's top three scorers from 2018-19 not returning this year, the Cadets will quickly find out where the offense will come from on this year's team.
Bennett represents the highest-scoring output from 2018-19 as she tallied 8.5 points per game having taken over five three-pointers per game. Her classmate and post-player Frederick offers a different style of play, having posted 5.3 points per game last season.
"We have been pleased with the progress we have made as a team throughout our preseason," related Head Coach Mark Zacher. "We will have several players stepping into expanded roles this season and learning to adjust to their new responsibilities. We anticipate our performance and success will truly be a team effort with any number or combination of players, new and returning, taking prominent roles. We also expect those leaders and their impact might change from game-to-game as we progress and the needs of our team change and develop."
The strength of this year's team should be its depth as the Cadets have multiple players at each position that can contribute to creating lineup diversity for Coach Zacher and his staff.
"We are looking to involve a large proportion of our roster in our game plan," noted Coach Zacher. "We feel comfortable playing different combinations and going deep into our lineup while still maintaining the same level of execution, production, and performance."
Last season's 3-9 record in conference play resulted in a 10th place finish. The preseason poll released this week predicted an incremental improvement for the Cadets with a 9th place finish. The GNAC schedule will once again be a challenge based on the talent level across the league.
"In my time at Norwich, I have witnessed the GNAC become one of the most competitive Division III conferences in the region," remarked Coach Zacher. "There is some true parity within the conference and a feeling that on any given night any team is capable of winning. This year will be no exception and competition may become even more intense."
The conference slate will commence on January 11th with a road game against the preseason's fourth-ranked Saint Joseph's (Me.). The Cadets will host the preseason favorite Emmanuel Saints on January 21st.
Norwich will host the annual Ed Hockenbury Classic on December 6th and 7th as it hosts Coast Guard, University of Maine-Presque Isle and Wellesley.