This season, Felicia DaCruz ‘15 and Kristin Schatzlein ‘16 will be responsible for taking the Fairfield women’s basketball team even farther than where they had left off last season.
After the Stags ended one of their most successful seasons last year posting a 22-11 overall record and going 15-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the team was hoping to make it past the first round of the MAAC tournament. Unfortunately, the team was eliminated by the end of the first round.
This year, however, the co-captains are hoping to take the team farther to eventually get the MAAC championship that the team looks forward to winning every season.
Both DaCruz and Schatzlein have been driving forces since they began their respective freshman years.
Although only a junior on the team, Schatzlein began to make an impact from the moment she started as a freshman.
During her freshman year, Schatzlein appeared in all 32 games that season, where she averaged a total of 4.4 points per game and 2.2 rebounds for the team. At the end of her impressive season, Schatzlein was awarded the honor of Fairfield University’s Freshman Athlete of the Year.
Schatzlein’s success continued as she headed into her sophomore year with the team. Appearing in all 33 games, making 32 starts, the 6-foot guard averaged 32.2 minutes per game, about 15 more minutes than she averaged freshman year. She shot a total of 64 three-pointers which tied the eighth most three-pointers in the program and then went on to make 93 assists. In one of her most rewarding wins, Schatzlein was able to score a set of free throws with 3.8 seconds left in the game to get the win against Marist last season.
Now heading into her junior year as one of the captains, Schatzlein is hoping that she fulfills the position of captain to her fullest, in a way that Head Coach Joe Frager expects.
“I just appreciate this a lot, I don’t think he trusted me as much last year but now stepping up as a junior, I think he has more trust in me to do what I can on the floor,” Schatzlein said. “He has seen the player I’ve become and I just have to prove him right.”
As captain, she has a number of different goals she expects the team to achieve, despite the loss of five seniors last season.
“This year, our team is different. We’re more athletic, we’re skinnier, not as big boned, and we’re going to use this look to push the ball a lot more and hopefully that works for us,” said Schatzlein.
As one of the captains, Schatzlein will continue to build her team along with her co-captain DaCruz.
DaCruz has earned multiple accolades for the Stags during her three years on the team. In her first season, she played in 28 games, starting in three of them, and ended the season with 19 rebounds and 11 assists.
By her sophomore year, DaCruz began to make her mark with the team. During her second year, she appeared in 32 games and started in 25 of them. She scored 101 points for the team while assisting another additional 99 points.
By her junior year, DaCruz had become a vital part of the starting five. Not only did she make the MAAC Academic Honor Roll, DaCruz ranked fourth in the nation for her assist-turnover ratio. Assisting over 170 points, the 5-feet-5-inch point guard finished the season playing a total of 1,152 minutes. Before heading into her final season with the team, DaCruz stands 16th all-time at Fairfield posting 289 assists.
Now as a senior captain, DaCruz has high expectations for both herself and her team, and she’s ready to take on the position.
“I think I’ve always seen myself as a leader and this is a great honor to be named captain with Kristin,” said DaCruz, “and I think we’re going to take the responsibility very well and we’ll see how it pans out.”
Stepping up as leader, DaCruz is looking to make the transition of the graduating seniors to the incoming freshmen and transfers very smooth.
“I think it’s going to be a little difficult at first getting to know the offense better, especially for the freshmen,” said DaCruz. “But I think with the experience we do have, we’ll be able to help the younger players so they could learn the plays better.”
However, despite the six freshmen who are new to the team, the loss of the graduating seniors after one of their most successful seasons will be difficult to overcome.
“Losing Katie [Cizynski] ‘14 and Lex [Vazquez] ‘14 was obviously a big loss for us, but like Coach said, this will be the first year where we could have players come off the bench,” said DaCruz. “There’s more opportunities for people to play, from freshmen all the way to seniors, so I think although it was a big loss for us, we have other proponents to bring this year.”
Both DaCruz and Schatzlein have obviously proved that they have both the physical and mental abilities to lead the team this upcoming season. Although a relatively young team, the captains are looking to use their experience to strengthen their teammates. The captains are slated to lead their first game against East Carolina on Nov. 14.