If you did not pay attention to the Fairfield women’s basketball team last season, then you surely missed out. The Stags enjoyed one of their finest regular seasons, going 15-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and 22-11 overall. One key player was Katie Cizynski ‘14, who enjoyed her best season, averaging 16.9 points per game as well as 8.7 rebounds. Aside from Cizynski, Alexys Vazquez ‘14 and Brittany Obi-Tabot ‘14 enjoyed fair seasons as well, putting up some of their best numbers.
These starting players from last season were not the only members of the team that performed exceedingly well; Felicia DaCruz ‘15 put together a fabulous campaign as the starting point guard. Her 3.3 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked her fourth in the nation. DaCruz’s dominance at the position solidified the Stags as one of the best 3-point shooting teams. Luckily for the Stags, she will be around for one last season to attain a MAAC Championship.
Junior Kristin Schatzlein, another member of last year’s starting lineup, was also incredibly important to the Stags’ success and will continue to be this season. As the second best 3-point shooter behind Vazquez, Schatzlein enjoyed her best season as the only underclassman in the starting lineup. Her play on the wing was key, and luckily for Head Coach Joe Frager, she will still be around for another two seasons.
However, despite all of the great accomplishments of the regular season, the Stags saw their season come to an early end in the first round of the 2014 MAAC Tournament. They fell at the hands of the Rider Broncs at a score of 63-56. Although the Stags fought hard just as they had all season long, Cizynski had limited opportunities in the paint and the Fairfield offense was left feeble. Fans and spectators alike were in shock to see the third seed Stags fall to the sixth seed Broncs in a Cinderella matchup.
To see a team that was destined to go deep into the tournament fall so early was heartbreaking, but the girls’ season was not over yet. Due to their spectacular in-season performance, the Stags received an invite to the Women’s Basketball Invitational. In this tournament, the team fared much better.
In the first game of this tournament, the team fought off a scare from Bryant University, narrowly winning in double overtime, in an excruciating 90-86 victory. The team found a much easier way to win in the next round, polishing off Maine at a score of 63-50.
However, just when winning seemed to be in the cards for the Stags, their season ultimately came to an end in the next matchup against the University of Illinois at a 30 point margin of 74-44. With this loss came the departure of five Fairfield seniors, three of whom were starters, and very important players on the team.
But with such a loss comes the opportunity to integrate players who were relegated to a bench role last season. Luckily for Frager, he has quite a few of these players to work with. These include Lizzy Ball ‘16, Kristine Miller ‘17, Kelsey Carey ‘17 and Samantha Cooper ‘18. Cooper sat out most of the season with a knee injury, while the other three girls received sparse bench minutes.
In addition, Frager has a few transfers at his disposal who have yet to play a minute of basketball for him, but could fill important roles. Junior Margeaux Dupuy and Casey Smith ‘17 sat out last season due to transfer rules, but are ready to go this season. Frager has plans of integrating them early on in the season.
Let’s not forget the six freshmen that will be joining the Stags this season. Ranging from a variety of states and even countries, these players are looking to elevate their level of play and translate their style of basketball to the college level. Frager and the women’s team have many viable players to look to that will be important to the team’s success and season-long accomplishments.