Women open season with 5-0 record, return eight veteran players to roster
And they’re back.
Returning eight junior and senior players, the women’s basketball team has captured its first undefeated 5-0 season start in five years.
The team snatched massive wins against Truman State, William Penn, Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State, and an 83-78 overtime victory against Wayne State College, ranked No. 5 in the current NSIC standings with a 6-3 record.
Starting the season ranked at No. 3 in the preseason coaches’ poll, Augustana has leveled up and currently claims the No. 1 spot in the NSIC conference, ahead of No. 2 Winona State (5-0) and No. 3 Minot State (4-1).
The team graduated only two players from the 2015-2016 season, guard Sydney Rome and forward Hayley McCarron.The Vikings ended last season with a loss in the conference championships to Winona State and a 23-8 record on the season.
After a 39-point win over Lake Superior State and a 40-point blowout over William Penn, the scoreboards reveal sure-fire skills.
Returning for his 28th year, head coach Dave Krauth said that this year’s early season success can be attributed to the depth of experience on the team.
“We’re a very similar team to what we had last year and the year before that,” Krauth said. “We can play a lot of players, and those players all can be threats to score or be real contributors. That makes us a little difficult to scout and prepare for.”
Returning senior players include centers Paige Peterson and Naomi Rust, in addition to guards Allie Koehn, Presley O’Farrell and Logan O’Farrell.
Krauth said Logan O’Farrell will be one of the key players this season, as she was named the NSIC Defensive Player of the Year in both the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons.
“[Logan O’Farrell] is a real instinctive player,” Krauth said. “For not being a post player, she blocks a lot of shots, she gets a lot of steals, and ignites our energy in a lot of games.”
Logan O’Farrell noted that having an all-inclusive team contributed to success in the past and will continued to show this season in team dynamics and the incorporation of freshman athletes.
“We’re a very open team,” Logan O’Farrell said. “We get along very well and are open to all the new girls. We’re with each other every single day. For the redshirt freshmen, even their communication coming off the bench is huge for us.”
In addition to key senior players, many juniors on the roster will see playing time this year. Junior center Shelby Selland was named the NSIC South Player of the Week after the Vikings’ first two games of the season, scoring 17 points against Truman State and 13 points on William Penn.
Selland said that experience has leveled the learning curve for younger players.
“In big game situations, it takes a little bit of the pressure off because you’ve been in that situation before,” Selland said. “When you have a whole team that’s been in that situation before, it takes away a few of the jitters.”
On Dec. 1 and 2, the Vikings travel to St. Paul, Minn. to take on No. 13 Concordia-St. Paul and No. 14 Minnesota State as regular NSIC season play begins.
“It’s always a very tough road trip,” Krauth said. “Those have been two strong teams, but I think we’ll have two really good games. If we play reasonably well, I think we can get a couple of road wins.”