Husson Women's Basketball Tops the 2019-20 NAC Preseason Poll

Husson Women's Basketball Tops the 2019-20 NAC Preseason Poll

WATERVILLE, Maine - Four-time defending conference champions, Husson University was picked to win their fifth-consecutive title in the 2019-20 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll. The Eagles received six first-place votes for a total of 62 points. Last year's runner-up Maine Maritime Academy received the remaining two first-place votes and 58 points in a repeat prediction.

UMaine-Farmington (40 points) and Northern Vermont-Lyndon (39 points) landed in a very tight race for third and fourth place, respectively. The NVU-Lyndon Hornets advanced to the 2019 semifinal round with a win over the Beavers.

SUNY Canton with 35 points in fifth place, and Thomas College with 28 points in sixth place, are also closely packed. The Canton Roos advanced to the 2019 semifinal round with a win over the Thomas Terriers.

UMaine-Presque Isle (15 points) and Northern Vermont-Johnson (11 points) complete the poll in seventh and eight place, respectively.

Head coaches vote in the preseason poll.

Non-conference action opens tomorrow, with several NAC teams taking advantage of the recently extended season and competing in tip-off tournaments. Conference games begin in early December, with the bulk of NAC contests occurring in the second semester. Six teams will qualify for the 2020 women's basketball conference championship tournament to occur over two weekends. The top two seeds will receive a bye in the quarterfinal round on Saturday, February 22, 2020. The top-seeded team based on regular season standings will then host the final four tournament on February 28th and 29th, 2020. The North Atlantic Conference Champion will receive an automatic qualification bid to the 2020 NCAA Women's Basketball championship tournament.

 

1. Husson University - 62 points (6 first-place votes)

Four-peat NAC Champions, the Husson women's basketball team (19-3, 13-1 NAC) opens the 2019-20 season under veteran coach Kissy Walker (29th season) taking on nationally ranked #20 St. John Fisher. After seeing four-time NAC Tournament MVP and 2019 NAC Women's Basketball Player of the Year Kenzie Worcester complete her four years wearing green and gold, the Eagles will look to All-NAC Second Team senior forward Joan Overman (Washburn, Maine) and junior center Megan Peach (Garland, Maine) to guide the Eagles back to the NAC Championship Tournament. Worcester joins the coaching staff as a student assistant coach to help provide guidance to four competitive newcomers to the program. Coming back from an injury last season, senior Sami Ireland (Howland, Maine) looks to pick up where she left off alongside teammates junior Emma Alley (Millinocket, Maine) and sophomore Sydney Allen (Corinth, Maine).

 
   

2. MAINE MARITIME -  58 points (2 first-place votes)

Craig Dagan returns for his 19th season as Head Coach of the Mariners (19-7, 12-2 NAC). The Mariners return three of their top five scorers from last season, including Second Team All-Conference selection Melinda Ogden (Searsport, Maine), who returns for her senior season after ranking second on the 2018-19 Mariners with 10.0 points per game. The Mariners have a competitive non-conference schedule and look to return to the NAC Championship game with a core of talented returners and a group of newcomers who are poised to make a quick impact.

 
   

3. UMAINE-FARMINGTON - 40 points

Veteran head coach Jamie Beaudoin returns to lead the Beavers for his 20th year on the sidelines for UMaine-Farmington (6-20, 6-8 NAC). The Beavers return a key group of experienced players in junior forward McKenna Brodeur (Oakland, Maine), sophomore guard Chelsea Crockett (Newport, Maine), senior guard Sara Lamb (Topsham, Maine), sophomore forward Molly Folsom (Fairfield, Maine), and sophomore guard Makayla Wilson (Belgrade, Maine). Coach Beaudoin also expects newcomers junior guard Alex Bessey (Jay, Maine), sophomore forward Page Brown (Boothbay, Maine), and sophomore guard Tia Day (Monmouth, Maine) to help the Beavers return to the NAC playoffs this season.

 
   

4. NVU-LYNDON - 39 points

The Hornets (14-12, 8-6 NAC) are ready to hit the court after their most successful season as a NAC member in 2018-19, and expect to challenge for the conference title this year under the guidance of first-year head coach Ben Arsenault. On the court, NVU-Lyndon will be led by senior forward Alissa Mitchell (Milton, N.H.), the reigning NAC Defensive Player of the Year, as well as senior forward Alisha Celley (Cabot, Vt.), and the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year, sophomore guard Lea Crompton (Dunbarton, N.H.). Newcomer Shaylan Mosher (Newark, Vt.), a junior transfer, is expected to make an immediate impact from the guard position. The Hornets experience should make them a factor in the NAC championship chase.

 

 
   

5. SUNY CANTON - 35 points

Head Coach Josh Ward is ready to start his second season with the Roos (12-14, 8-6 NAC) for the 2019-20 season. The team will look to sophomore forward Autumn Watkins (Harlem, N.Y.), who averaged 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game last season and was a three-time NAC Rookie of the Week recipient, for experience and leadership. The team will also rely on junior forward Billie Rivenburgh (Frankfort, N.Y.), who averaged 4.6 points and 6.1 boards per outing a season ago. Coach Ward expects first-year players, forward Joie Culkin (Spencerport, N.Y.) and guard Autumn Kunes (Bristol, N.Y.), to contribute right away.

 
   

6. THOMAS -  28 points

Thomas Head Coach Emily Cummins returns for her sixth season leading the Terriers (6-19, 5-9 NAC). Thomas returns many key contributors from a season ago, including senior guard Karli Stubbs (Auburn, Maine) who shot 28% from three-point range last season, forward Addie Brinkman (Farmington, Maine) who averaged 6.7 rebounds per game, center Malorie Weaver (Palermo, Maine), and sophomore guard Kaylee Ravagli (Lowell, Mass.) who shot 30.9% from three-point range last year. The Terriers also welcome six newcomers who will provide depth and contribute to the team's structure of play. The Terriers have a hopeful outlook on the season and will pursue another playoff run this year with key returners and new players coming into the program.

 
   

7. UMAINE-PRESQUE ISLE -  15 points

The UMaine-Presque Isle women's basketball team (9-16, 4-10 NAC) will be led by veteran head coach Gavin Kane in his third year with the program. The Owls welcome back key returners junior guard Marissa Valdivia-Reagle (Seattle, Wash.), and sophomore guards Sarah Musselman (Turlock, Calif.) and Hunter Mercier (Fairfield, Maine), who combined for 26.4 points per game last year. Senior Laura Aroz (Tuscon, Ariz.) will provide leadership as the captain of the team. Key newcomers, including junior forward Taylor Miller (Weeki Wachee, Fla.) and first-year guard Mariah Dunbar (Canaan, Maine), are expected to make an immediate impact for the Owls.

 
   

8. NVU-JOHNSON - 11 points

Head Coach Greg Eckman enters his eighth year at the helm of the NVU-Johnson women's basketball program. The Badgers (2-22, 0-14 NAC) welcome in a large recruiting class of first-year and transfer students that round out the squad. Senior guard Lindsey LaPerle (Bethel, Vt.) will provide experience and leadership for the young team. Sophomores Alexandra Barry (Hopewell Jct., N.Y.) and Amorette Rodriguez (Downey, Calif.) are also expected to play key roles for NVU-Johnson as they make a run for the conference tournament.