Canadian Duo Provides Spark

May Kotsopoulos of Wa-terloo, Ontario and Courtnay Pilypaitis of Orleans, Ontario have made quite an impact thus far for the Vermont women’s basketball team.The two standout freshmen from Canada have been one of the keys to this season’s sur-prising team.Courtnay leads the team in scoring, with 14.1 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 92 assists thus far in the season.May is second in scoring, averaging 10.2 points per game, 2.9 rebounds per game, and has recorded 37 steals.They have helped lead the Catamounts to a 15-7 overall record, 5-4 in America East, putting them in third place in the conference. The team was projected to finish eighth, so the addition of Pilypaitis and Kotsopoulos has been pivotal to Vermont’s standing.These two are the latest in a line of successful Canadian players in the program. Vermont has had 19 players from Canada in the women’s basketball program’s history.UVM’s all-time leaders in scoring (Karalyn Church ’00), rebounding (Sher Turnbull ’94) and assists (Lori Taylor ’98) all hail from north of the border.The Road to VermontKotsopoulos and Pilypaitis are not strangers to one an-other.May attended Waterloo Col-legiate Institute, was named “Miss Ontario Basketball” in 2006, and Waterloo Collegiate Athlete of the Year in 2006 as well.Courtnay went to St. Peter High School and was named Orleans Online Athlete of the Year in 2005 and MVP of the Nike All-Canada Camp also in 2005.”We played against and with each other before we came to UVM,” Kotsopoulos said. “We played together for two sum-mers and we didn’t get along, and when we were younger we didn’t like each other for all of our differences.””We had some battles and it would seem like it was May against Courtnay instead of our two teams at times.” Pilypaitis added.”Now we are roommates and unlike when we were younger, we like each other for our dif-ferences.” May commented.So how exactly did May and Courtnay end up here? Coach Sharon Dawley shed some light on the subject. “Sometimes the Canadian players are harder to find, but once you find them they are easier to recruit because they are very excited about the pos-sibility of playing in the U.S.”Dawley explained why Courtnay and May were re-cruited. “Courtnay’s court vision and passing ability and obvious passion for the game stood out. With May it was her defensive intensity and her overall tough-ness.”May was recruited by three other schools and Courtnay by one.May said she chose UVM because she “was struck most by the business school since that’s what [she is] majoring in, and the team and coaches won [her] over, they are great.”For Courtnay, it was “school and academics, and she “got along great with the team, [they] have a lot of chemistry.”Living Up to ExpectationsIt is interesting to see the contrast in the coach’s expecta-tions to those of the two play-ers.”When you’re recruiting you don’t know how mature or how hard they’ll work as fresh-men,” Dawley said. “We did know May and Courtnay would have an im-pact but they have done more than we thought they would.””We knew they’d make a big difference, but one of the reasons they are making such a big contribution to the team is because they outwork a lot of people.”However, when asked if they felt they would make an immediate impact May and Courtnay had a different an-swer.”I didn’t expect to play, and at first I was happy with any time on the court,” Kotsopoulos said, “Now when I’m out there I don’t want to let anyone down, so I play as hard as I can.”Courtnay said, “I didn’t have any expectations when I came in, I was looking forward to working to get a spot.”Perhaps most interesting are the words with which May and Courtnay chose to describe each other.”May is a competitor, she gives it her all every second she is on the court.” Courtnay said.”Courtnay is fearless; she is not scared of anything. She is a freshman and she can take over a game,” May said.Dawley chose tough as a word to describe May, and “creative” for Courtnay.The girls’ coach feels that the key to their success this year has been because of their individual confidences.Thoughts for the Future”If they are able to be con-fident in the second round of conference play they will both be able to make a huge impact in our run for the regular sea-son title as well as the tourna-ment title in America East.”May and Courtnay do feel that they have a connection on the court. “We like to run a lot and are able to sense when we are there for one another,” May said”It helped coming in know-ing how she plays, I knew what to expect from her, and we were able to build from there,” Courtnay added.Both May and Courtnay feel that the key to the rest of the season and postseason will be the team’s defense.”If we play good defense, we can run the opponent into the ground and wear them out,” May said. Courtnay added, “If we force the other team to throw up bad shots we can get out and run in transition, which is one of our strengths.”For May and Courtnay, their careers are just beginning but their play has already begun turning heads.For these two stars from Ontario, the sky is the limit. There is no telling where they could lead this team in the next four years.The women’s basketball team continues play against Maine on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. and hosts Binghamton on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m.