One year after falling in the quarterfinals of the PSAC Tournament, the West Chester University women’s basketball team returns to the court this Tuesday, when they go on the road to take on Philadelphia University in their season opener.
Head coach Deirdre Kane begins her 25th season in charge of the Golden Rams, who finished third in the PSAC East last season, but crashed out of the conference tournament in the first round.
This season, they will look to build on that performance and go one step further by going to the NCAA Tournament. Kane will be joined on the bench by top assistant Kiera Wooden, who enters her eighth season in the position. The former All-PSAC East forward and 2003 graduate of West Chester became an assistant to Kane before the 2004-05 campaign. Alongside Kane and Wooden will be Lindsay Wilson, who will begin her fifth season as another assistant coach on the Golden Rams’ bench.
West Chester was picked to repeat as third-place finishers in the PSAC East in a preseason poll of the conference’s head coaches three weeks ago.
West Chester did receive one first-place vote, though, signifying that someone feels the Golden Rams can go to great heights this season. The Golden Rams will be led by senior guard Allison Hostetter and junior forward Alex Lennon, who were each named to the PSAC East preseason all-league team. They will be joined by senior guards Shamyra Hammond and Jill Keefer, each three-year letterwinners, to form the leadership core of the team.
Hostetter, Lennon, and Keefer all return after starting each and every one of West Chester’s 27 games last year. Hammond played in 25 of the team’s games, providing a key defensive presence to the team.
Also poised to play a key role this season are junior forwards Carly Strickland and Ambreelinne Ortman, who took part in all of last year’s 27 games, despite not starting a single one. This year, one or both of them could crack into the starting lineup.
The Golden Rams welcome one new recruit to the team in forward Kendall Benovy, a six-foot freshman who hails from Hershey, Pa. Also joining the roster this season is Serifat Junaid, another six-foot freshman forward who redshirted last year. Junaid, who attended Camden Catholic High School, also plays track for West Chester.
West Chester’s greatest threat in the PSAC East coming into the season appears to be fierce rival, Bloomsburg. The Huskies were picked first in the division in the coaches’ poll, and received five first-place votes.
Edinboro, meanwhile, were picked as the crop of the West division by the coaches. After opening the season away at Philadelphia University, West Chester will return home to play a pair of games at Hollinger Field House, where they went 12-2 last season.
Both will be conference games, meaning the Golden Rams will have little time to prepare before meaningful contests are being played. On Saturday they will take on Slippery Rock, while on Sunday they play Mercyhurst. West Chester will then play a number of key conference matchups throughout December, including a trip to Edinboro on the ninth, before hosting the Carol Eckman Memorial Tournament at Hollinger Field House on the Dec. 30 and 31.
Molloy College and the University of the Sciences will be the Golden Rams’ opponents for the tournament. The Golden Rams will take on division favorite, Bloomsburg, first at home on Jan. 21 and then away on Feb. 11.
West Chester concludes the regular season on Feb. 25, and would begin the PSAC Tournament on Feb. 28 if they can qualify for it. If successful, the Golden Rams would then take part in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since they participated in 2003.
Joey Samuel is a third-year student majoring in political science and Spanish. He can be reached at JS719745@wcupa.edu.