Women’s basketball rides impressive win streak into final stretch of the regular season

Every season, collegiate teams aspire to reload, not rebuild. Losing players to graduation is inevitable, and replacing experienced four-year players is always challenging. Losing a coach can pose an even greater challenge. Coaches are meant to be the one constant in a collegiate program. They are supposed to make sure that a standard is maintained. When new leadership arrives, these coaches must instill their own values and collaborate with their new athletes. A program undergoing all of these changes all at once could be reasonably expected to struggle throughout the season.

For the Vassar women’s basketball team, all of these excuses were available. After graduating two key senior players, one of whom was the Liberty League defensive player of the year, the team also lost former head coach Anthony Mason, who took another collegiate head coaching job in Southern California. Fresh off an impressive 18-9 season with a 14-4 record in Liberty League play, a decline was expected by many. Even first-year head coach Meredith Mesaris, who says Vassar was something of a dream job for her, was not sure what to expect.

“To be honest, I came into the season without many expectations,” Mesaris told The Miscellany News through an email correspondence. “We have no seniors, which is something that can be worrisome for many coaches. I knew we had great leadership in our junior class and a group of student athletes who were ready to get to work.”

Reasonably so, Mesaris, formerly the assistant coach at the University of Hartford, assumed this season would require plenty of building, and some of the frustrations that come along with such efforts. 

Instead, the team and new coach have grown together in stride. Through 21 games, the team holds a record of 20-1, with an undefeated 14-0 conference record. The team is currently riding a 19-game win streak that extends back to Nov. 17. In the month of January, the team played nine Liberty League games and finished with a 9-0 record, winning eight of them by at least 10 points. Such a resume resulted in the team being ranked 24th in the most recent Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Poll, which is the program’s first national ranking since 2013. 

Mesaris said receiving a national ranking was thrilling for the team and also expects that every game will now be more challenging. “I tell the team every day that we are going to get everyone’s best effort and that other teams want to be the ones to knock us off,” she explained. 

To continue their rise, the team is focused on staying true to what had earned them their success in the first place. “Something that was very clear from the beginning and that has been the key to our success thus far is the work ethic and commitment to high standards our team encompasses,” Mesaris explained. “We make sure to prepare and approach every single game the exact same way and take everything one game at a time.”

Captains Ashley Mostrom ’25 and Tash Thompson ’25 agreed with their coach on what has catalyzed this success. Mostrom and Thompson explained that they knew that this would be a season that would require significant building, and that they are proud of how far their team has come. 

“This has been a revamp season with a new head coach, rebuilding of culture, and winning mindset,” Mostrom said. “With no seniors and only four juniors on a team of sixteen, we are super young. However, everyone is really bought in and we have been on the grind since the summer. It’s been so fun being able to see all the hard work paying off and proving to everyone we deserve the top spot.”

“A lot of our sophomores and even our freshmen have had to take on leadership roles that are generally uncommon for underclassmen, but it’s been so fun to watch them grow and step up. Our team culture is better than ever,” Thompson added.

The team now has two remaining weeks of regular season competition, in which they will play four more Liberty League games. Vassar currently holds the top spot in the Liberty League, leading Skidmore by two games. If Vassar is able to continue its winning streak and capture the regular season conference title, the team will host every round of the Liberty League playoffs it advances to. Finishing the season 24-1 and with an undefeated conference record would also be a compelling resume for an NCAA tournament at-large bid. If the team wins the Liberty League playoffs, it will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The program has not been to the NCAA tournament since 2019, when it lost a first-round matchup to SUNY Geneseo.

Regardless of how the season ends, Mesaris says she is grateful for the opportunity to work with the team and how well the season has gone. 

“It has been an incredible experience so far,” Mesaris said. “The student athletes I get to work with day in and day out are just amazing and are truly a joy to coach. Being able to be a mentor and coach for such incredible students and getting to see all the impressive things they do outside

the court is something special. The athletic department has been extremely supportive

of me and our program with the success we have. It is honestly such a dream come true.”

Upcoming this week are matches against Rochester Institute of Technology at 5:30 p.m. on  Friday, Feb. 9th, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10th—both held at the Athletic Fitness Center—where the team hopes to extend their winning streak even further.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Miscellany News reserves the right to publish or not publish any comment submitted for approval on our website. Factors that could cause a comment to be rejected include, but are not limited to, personal attacks, inappropriate language, statements or points unrelated to the article, and unfounded or baseless claims. Additionally, The Misc reserves the right to reject any comment that exceeds 250 words in length. There is no guarantee that a comment will be published, and one week after the article’s release, it is less likely that your comment will be accepted. Any questions or concerns regarding our comments section can be directed to Misc@vassar.edu.