By Hayden Choate
The Springfield College women’s basketball team returns this year for a full season in 2021-2022. The Pride were able to practice all of last season but only played one game; a 56-47 win at Wheaton last April.
Now back with a 25-game schedule, Springfield not only looks to be competitive this year, but to dominate its opponents.
“We’ve got a lot of depth,” Springfield College head women’s basketball coach Naomi Graves said. “The strength of our team is that I’ve got 10 kids that probably could have started for me at some point in my career here.”
“Our biggest strength is our depth I think,” senior Grace Dzindolet added. “We’ve never really had a team where there’s no difference in play between the starters and the people coming off the bench, it’s really going to help us stay healthy in the long run.”
The team, known as “The Posse” only returns five players from the 2019-2020 campaign where they lost in the NEWMAC semifinals to Smith College. Springfield has an array of sophomores and first-years with two graduate students that not only add depth, but give them a skilled roster.
Seniors Dzindolet, Stephanie Lyons and Amanda Carr are the leaders of the team who all have contributed big minutes since they were first-years. They look to lead the team back to the NEWMAC championship for the first time since 2019 when they lost to MIT.
“I feel so incredibly lucky to be leading this team with my best friends Steph (Lyons) and Sis (Amanda Carr) and I’m just ready to get to the NEWMAC championship again,” Dzindolet said.
Sam Hourihan and Rachel Vinton are the only two juniors on the team, but both are big pieces to the puzzle for the Pride. Hourihan was named the 2019 NEWMAC Rookie of the Year.
Due to only having one game last year, Springfield’s sophomores and first-years are both experiencing their first collegiate year. The four sophomores of Riley Robinson, Kayla Madden, Jaelan Daubon and Kayla Thomas with the three first-years, Angela Czeremcha, Lindsey Laughlan, and Emma Glazer will all be contributing factors for the Pride.
The other two additions in their first year with Springfield are graduate students, Sidney Wentland and Summer Matlack. Wentland played at Concordia-St. Pauls and Matlack played at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
The Posse are two games into their season. They started off last Friday by winning in blowout fashion, 73-38, over RPI. Following that was a 72-45 road win over Western New England Tuesday night.
Springfield has not only shown the strength of their roster through the first two games, but has also shown that they are willing to work together, as the team has had 41 assists in the two games.
“This team is really a pleasure to work with because they have great energy as a unit and their unselfish,” Graves said.
Not only does the team have a lot of talent and connect on the court but early on in the season they have connected off of it.
“We’re all super close, all of us love each other and we love the game of basketball and that is such a good way to start the season off,” Hourihan said.
“This team is incredibly connected, we worked hard to really work on the cohesion of it,” Graves said. “We’ve really worked hard on having that communication so our freshmen can talk, sometimes teams, its upperclassmen right but I think our freshmen really feel connected and our sophomore group do and that’s a big deal, we’ve worked hard at that.”
The team also has big goals for the season like getting back and winning the NEWMAC championship. Having collective goals has helped the team every day so far.
“I’m feeling really confident about this season,” Dzindolet said. “I think we look the best we’ve looked in a long time. Our team has an amazing culture and a lot of trust on the court. I’ve been enjoying every practice more and more because I know I can just go out and play with my sisters.”
Springfield begins NEWMAC play on January 8 and will play 10 non-conference games in addition to the RPI and Western New England contests. The upcoming stretch includes playing Vassar at home and traveling to Williams and Connecticut College.
Dzindolet has a strong belief in her team but knows that it is a long season.
“I think it’ll be a huge wake up call for all of us when a team does break us down and beat us,” Dzindolet admitted. “Every team has its highs and lows and I think that first loss is going to teach us a lot and prepare us for what we’ll need in the future.”
As the season ramps up the Posse are ready to take on what challenges lay ahead.
“I absolutely love this team and everything we’ve gone through together,” Dzindolet said.