Women’s basketball ready for a new chapter

The ladies of the women’s basketball team are starting a fresh season, coming off a victory in the America East Conference Championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Though the team certainly won’t forget last year’s accomplishments, they are looking ahead to the season with new goals in mind.

“Resilience is the biggest lesson we learned from last year’s championship run,” head coach Sharon Dawley said. “With that said, we can’t rest on laurels. That was last year, this is a new year — we’ve got a new team and it’s time to start a new chapter.”

Though it is a new year, there are still some familiar faces wearing the Catamounts uniform. Notably, seniors May Kotsopoulos and Courtnay Pilypaitis return for their final season with the team.

“It’s almost mindboggling … how much they’ve done,” Dawley said. “I can’t imagine the program without them and I don’t think we are ever going to be able to put into words what they’ve done.”

The team also welcomes six freshmen to the squad, who hope to assist in carrying on the winning tradition.

“I’m excited about our freshman class,” Dawley said. “They are all very athletic, they have good size and they are all really competitive.”

“It’s going to be a hard season but it’s going to be fun,” freshman Kendra Seto said.

Among the new team members on the roster, Vermont native Rachel Wellman brings an emotional attachment and history to the locker room, having watched Vermont basketball while she was growing up.

“The players and the coaches as a team work so hard to get where they are and do what they do,” Wellman said. “It’s an honor to play with them and be coached by them and I’m definitely excited to represent a player from Vermont.”

The team will have to get past some tough obstacles if they want to improve upon last year’s accomplishments.

Their schedule is a tough one, which includes a rematch with NCAA tournament opponent UConn Huskies in December.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. We had a blast last year and I think it not being in the NCAA (tournament) will take a little pressure off,” Pilypaitis said about the UConn rematch. “I think it’s going to be a learning experience and we are all pretty excited for it.”

The coaches of America East seem to think that the ladies can overcome any challenges this season, selecting Vermont as No. 1 in the preseason poll for the second consecutive year.

The Catamounts received five out of a possible eight first place votes from the coaches.
Kotsopoulos and Pilypaitis were also given preseason honors by being voted to the America East Preseason All-Conference Team.

“It’s flattering to earn the top spot in the preseason poll and to be thought of this way by the other coaches in the league,” Dawley said.

“We have a lot of good teams in our conference so to be picked number one was an honor for us, but at the same time we know that it really doesn’t mean anything,” Pilypaitis added.

” It’s just going to bring out the best in all of the teams in the conference.”

The team started the season on Oct. 31 with a preseason game win against Laval (Canada), 72-43.