For a team that was the Liberty League champion just two years ago, last season proved disappointing, providing the Brewers with a taste of what could have been. The women’s basketball team was riddled with injuries and finished with an ultimately disappointing 12–13 record on the year. While the overall result was rough, there were some bright moments during the year as well. Sophomore Ariella Rosenthal stated, “We had a lot of potential last year but we peaked at the wrong time…playing our best the last four games of the season, and I think that is the biggest motivator for us.” Although the season didn’t end so well, the women’s team is looking at it in a positive light, with the disappointment of last year fueling their motivation of this year.
Senior captain Colleen O’Connell offered her reflections as well, explaining, “Last season was a big learning year for us. I thought we ended on a high note and we are looking to carry our success and lessons learned over into our game this season.” While the injuries of last year were ultimately a hindrance, they also allowed less experienced players to get more game time.
As soon as the season ended, the Brewers went straight to the gym, lifting at least three times a week this summer as a part of Coach Cam’s summer weightlifting and conditioning program. However, their training was not limited to these activities. Seniors Alex Moon and Rose Serafini also added that they did a lot of shooting and ball-handling and played pickup basketball to maintain and improve their skills.
The Brewers are hopeful for this season and excited to showcase their improvements. Rosenthal said, “We have become a lot more fluid, we are our best when we run the ball and push in transition and we have been doing that a lot more this year.” O’Connell also added that they gained a lot of new talent with six freshmen. “We play with a sense of urgency and that we have a greater understanding of the work and dedication that it will take to be at the top again,” she explained.
While the Brewers didn’t make it to the Liberty League Playoffs last year, they are determined to win the Liberty League title this year and make it to at least the second round of the NCAAs.
To do this, they’ve set a range of goals, both small and large, individual and team. The Brewers have trained with a team–first mindset, always wanting to better the team atmosphere and work everyone into the offense. Rosenthal hoped to build this bond through hard work on the court. “[I aim] to help everyone else on the team get better by pushing them as hard as I can in practice, and to bring a level of competitiveness every day that makes everyone else want to get better, want to play and enjoy being there,” she stated. O’Connell’s goal is quite similar in that she hopes to help her teammates grow and get better every day. She added, “The only way [we] would be able to win the Liberty League Championship is if we are all at our best, and I consider it my main responsibility to make sure that happens.”
The Brewers also set daily goals to help them achieve their seasonal and ultimate goals. “Some examples of daily goals include accepting your role and emptying the tank,” said O’Connell. Rosenthal added, “Day to day we have expectations that we hold each other accountable for because without the small steps we can’t reach the goal of making Liberty Leagues and hopefully winning it all.” Clearly, it takes small steps towards success and the combined effort of everyone involved, including the hard-working coaches, to reach that ultimate victory.
Heading the Brewers are Coach Candice Brown and Coach Carolyn Crampton. The two have given their team tremendous support as they too work to help the Brewers achieve their goals. Rosenthal explained their methods, saying, “Each practice is scheduled down to the minute, our coaches know how to make us work in a short amount of time in order to get the results we need.” O’Connell added, “In our practices, the coaches emphasize attention to detail and staying intense throughout every drill in order to best prepare us for league play.”
Despite its competitive nature, the team dynamic is also quite encouraging and loving. Rosenthal spoke to this, saying, “We are constantly pushing each other when we are on the floor and at times it can get very competitive but as soon as we step off the court we are all best friends again.” Moon continued, “The team is my second family…They push me to be better both on and off the court.” Both Moon and Rosenthal explained that they chose to play for Vassar because of the team atmosphere.
So far, the Brewers have had a rocky start with a record of 1–3, but they don’t start league play until January. In their season opener, the Brewers lost to Montclair State 67–40. In the VC Tip Off tournament on Nov. 20, Vassar had their first, and so far, only win of the season, beating Mt. Saint Vincent 62–56 and advancing to the championship game of the tournament. In that game Vassar lost 57–52 to Haverford College, despite a late rally.
Last week they fell to SUNY Geneseo just 70–66 and their next game is a non–conference away game against Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. Moon explained, “We’ve been playing really good competition so that we can get all of our kinks out now and be ready for when league play starts. I’m confident things will start to gel soon.” Serafini also added, “I have a great feeling about this year. We have four hungry seniors that want to set the standards and expectations. We expect to win.” Hopefully their hard work and undefeatable attitude will prevail.