Seven weeks. Forty-nine days. 1,176 hours. No matter how you look at it, the UMBC Women’s Basketball season is right around the corner. The Retrievers will open up their season against the Fordham Rams on November 10 in New York. With the start of another season on the horizon, emotions are high, expectations are set and the possibilities are endless.
Last season, the Retrievers finished with a record of 15-16. The team demands excellence, and finishing one game below the .500 mark might seem like a huge disappointment, but their 10-6 conference record gave them the No. 3 overall seed in the America East playoffs.
Usually, the No. 3 seed would be awarded with home court advantage for the first round of playoffs, but that all changed with last season. The 2016-17 season was the first time that all of the America East women’s games were played at a neutral site, located in Portland, Maine. The top six teams were given a spot to contend for the conference championship, and the first team the Retrievers had to beat were the Hartford Hawks. The two games these teams played against each other earlier in the season, the decisions were split with both teams taking home a victory. Hartford had come into the first round game with a conference record of 7-9, so the Retrievers were the favorite in this matchup, but ended up falling a bit short against the Hawks. Hartford knocked the Retrievers out of the playoffs, but ended up losing in the next round to the America East defending champions, the Albany Great Danes.
With every loss comes an opportunity to learn, and the Retrievers are poised to have an outstanding upcoming season. Senior guard Carly Harris shared her interpretation of the team’s goals for the year:
“Winning the conference and making the NCAA tournament has always been a long term goal of ours. Right now, we have a young team and we are just focused on progressing every day, and building our team chemistry as we continue to learn the system.”
The Women’s team lost four contributors to graduation at the end of last season. Taylor McCarley and Pandora Wilson were the leaders of the team who both averaged double digit points per game, Amanda Hagaman was a huge contributor at forward who provided at both ends of the court, and Emily Russo contributed greatly in her four years here as a team leader. Replacing these girls was not easy, but Head Coach Phil Stern knows what it takes to build a strong lineup.
With multiple roster spots available, the coaching staff worked extremely hard to bring in talented freshmen that would be able to fill in the missing pieces to this puzzle. This year’s recruiting class features six athletes from talented areas all across the east coast, who are ready to make an immediate impact on the program.
“Our freshmen class is awesome, they will be impacting our team right from the first tip-off,” said Harris.
Losing four veteran players is always tough, but the Retrievers’ roster has five seniors this year who have certainly been around the game long enough to know exactly how to lead these rookies to compete for a conference title.
Players to watch this year for the Retrievers include Laura Castaldo, a senior who averaged over 11 points per game last year and also made the America East All-Conference Third Team. Lookout for Tyler Moore, who has the potential to breakout in a major way on her sophomore campaign. She started in 27 games last year and contributed over 8 points and 4 rebounds a game, and was able to add 28 assists and 29 steals to her freshmen year resume.
Finally, sophomore political science major, Lucrezia Costa, will look to have a huge impact on the Retrievers upcoming season. Costa led team Italy to a sixth place finish at the International Basketball Federation U20 European Championships over the summer. The forward is known for being an impacter on both ends of the court, and her talents were showcased in the tournament against Latvia where she finished with a combination of ten points and three rebounds.
With a young team returning, any kind of veteran leadership can go a long way when it comes to developing players. Losing two unbelievable players, like McCarley and Wilson, is never easy for any program. Luckily, UMBC has hired McCarley to come back to campus in a role as Graduate Assistant Coach. She will be able to show this team, who has unbelievable potential, exactly what needs to be done in order to dominate the America East.
These seven weeks could not go by faster, as everyone is excited to see what the UMBC Women’s basketball team has in store for this season.