HAVERFORD, Pa. - After winning the Centennial Conference tournament and reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament a season ago, the Haverford College women's basketball team is poised to take another step forward in 2019-20. The journey for a second straight Centennial Conference title will begin on Tuesday in Immaculata as the Fords take on the Mighty Macs at 6 p.m. to open up their title defense in earnest.
Haverford is receiving votes in the preseason D3Hoops.com poll, taking some well-earned momentum into the opening weeks of the season after making waves in last season's NCAA tournament. Haverford reached the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season in 2018-19, the first time in program history the squad has advanced to the tournament in back-to-back years. The Fords finished their season with a 22-7 overall record, the second-most wins in program history. Haverford then posted a 40-point win over Rosemont in the opening round of the tournament before giving No. 4 Tufts everything it could handle in a narrow loss in the second round in Medford, Mass.
Haverford will have to replace the production of graduated seniors Macy Goldbach and Katie Cook, as the pair both earned important milestones in their senior seasons. Goldbach, who will return to the bench as an assistant coach in 2019-20, reached the 1,000-point mark, becoming just the ninth player in program history to reach the total. Cook finished her career with 400 career assists, the second-most in program history, while starting 109 total contests at Haverford, the most in program history. Cook also recorded the 25th-best assist-to-turnover ratio in Division III in 2019 (2.12).
Despite losing the pair of leaders to graduation, Haverford retains a strong veteran core of returners ready to take the leadership reigns as three starters from a season ago, Anna-Sophia Capizzi (12.0 ppg), Megan Furch (10.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg), and Maddie Gallic (8.1 ppg, 5.8 ppg) all return for their senior years along with key reserve Hannah Zoll (2.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg). With Furch and Zoll providing a formidable post presence, Capizzi (106 career three-pointers) will be called upon often for her prowess from beyond the arc while Gallic may prove to be a versatile presence in the paint for Haverford, with the ability to stuff the stat sheet defensively, recording 28 steals and a team-best 26 blocks a season ago.
Julianna Clark (7.1 ppg) and Nyla Robinson (2.4 rpg) are versatile guards that will look to yet again play instrumental roles in their junior campaigns, while Raina Gully rejoins the squad for her junior season after a year away due to injury. Caroline Andersen and Lauren Howard both return after making a splash during their first years on campus and gaining valuable postseason experience. Erica Fenton also returns for her sophomore season after missing her first campaign due to injury. In total, seven players who averaged 10 or more minutes a season ago are back in the fold for the 2019-20 campaign. The Fords return 1,270 of their 1,734 points from the 2018-19 championship team.
New to the squad in 2019-20 are first years Eleanor Alix (Glen Ridge, N.J.), Sydney Cummings (Wilton, Conn.), Cortlyn Morris (Bound Brook, N.J.), Kaitlyn Patterson (Erie, Colo.), Kayla Robinson (Bristol, Conn.), and Gabi Watkins (Claremont, Calif.). The large group of newcomers is expected to make an impact in a variety of ways. With a renewed focus on depth, the Fords are looking forward to the added dimension that a larger roster can provide after a limited rotation in the last few years.
The deeper Haverford squad will have to contend with a Centennial Conference that saw five different programs garner first place votes in the preseason poll. After dispatching Gettysburg in the conference final last season, the Fords were picked to finish second to the Bullets, while Johns Hopkins, Ursinus, and Muhlenberg were also all consensus picks for the conference playoffs and prognosticated for the conference title by at least one voter.
After Immaculata, the Fords continue the road swing with a trip to the 2019 Pablo Coto Tip-Off on the Arlington, Va. campus of Marymount (Va.). The squad faces off with the host Saints on November 15, before a November 16 contest against either Sage or Ferrum. The contest with Marymount, a team receiving votes in the D3Hoops.com preseason poll, will be just the second between the two squads, as Haverford took down the then-No. 21 Saints in Arlington on November 15, 2013. In that contest, the Fords cruised by a final score of 70-56. Key conference clashes then dot the early part of the schedule as a visit from a rejuvenated Ursinus team opens up the home slate (Nov. 23). The Fords will also visit Muhlenberg (Dec. 14) before the holiday break.