The women’s basketball season ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Marymount University. The loss does not take away from what the team accomplished in the 2015-2016 season.
The Cavaliers started off slow out of the gate, going winless in their first four games. Things could have spiraled from there but a team with four seniors knew there was plenty of time left in the season to right the ship.
“Coming into the season we knew it would take us a couple games to find our rhythm and what works best for us,” Kristina Startare, senior forward, said. “Being 0-4 just showed us that we needed to work harder in practice and our season could only go up from there.”
They started to turn things around when it counted most, league play.
“Heading into conference play we focused more than ever to make sure we finally secured our first win of the season,” Sarah Martinez, freshman guard, said. “From there we began to play more like a team and trust one another. We did have a few more losses later on to Marywood and Gwynedd Mercy but we never let those losses bring us down. We only worked harder and pushed each other more in practice to continue our road to the CSAC championship and claim our fourth title.”
The Cavs went 13-3 in Colonial State Athletic Conference games. This put them in a position to succeed in the conference tournament with a number three seed. Although for a team that has become accustomed to receiving a bye, a new challenge presented itself with an extra game and playing less of the tournament favorite role.
The Cavs breezed to a quarterfinal’s victory over Rosemont College. A matchup against two seed Gwynedd Mercy University was not going to come quite as easily. Gwynedd Mercy, in a pair of regular season matches, swept the Cavs. A halftime deficit to the Griffins in the semifinals of the CSAC tournament made it seem as though a third straight loss was possible. The Cavs regrouped at the half and finished the game with a dominant second half and ultimately a double-digit victory.
The championship game against Neumann University was the only thing standing in the way of a bid to the NCAA tournament and more importantly a fourth consecutive CSAC title. The Knights held a six-point lead in the third quarter of the game. The Cavs would have to overcome a late game deficit and play from behind to claim the title. This is where having a veteran team who has been in these spots over and over really makes the difference.
The Cavs went on an 11-4 run to reclaim the lead and close out the third quarter. The lead was never squandered and the Cavs went on to win their fourth consecutive CSAC title. A feet that should not be taken lightly.
To put what the seniors (Mo O’Connell, Meghan Martin, Dana Peterson, Kristina Startare) have accomplished in their careers in perspective is quite simple. Cabrini joined the CSAC conference in the 1992-1993 season. The team won five conference tournaments in its first 20 years in the league. Since, the team has won four in as many years, almost matching the total from the previous 20 years.
“This season was different than the rest but in the end we still became CSAC champs and instead of being just a team we became a family,” Startare said.
Next year’s team will attempt to continue the CSAC dynasty that began the year these four seniors joined the team.