D1 Women's Update - Previewing The MAAC
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), representing great competitors from colleges and universities throughout the northeast, is starting another season. CBT looks at the strengths of and challenges for these teams.
Canisius College’s squad is ready to turn the corner after a tough few seasons. Freshman Brooklyn Thrash scored the most points in her high school’s history, and Head Coach Sahar Nusseibeh calls her “one of the best players to come out of Northwest Ohio.” Returning junior Dani Haskell’s veteran skill could push the offense.
Canisius never has lacked competitiveness. Even in an otherwise unremarkable season, the Golden Griffins posted wins in 2021-2022 over MAAC powerhouses Siena and Monmouth. These successes could portend a return to the top of the MAAC – a spot they have held in years prior.
In the 2021-2022 season, the Fairfield Stags galloped to the NCAA tournament for the first time in over two decades after a momentous victory against Manhattan College in the MAAC Championship. The conference title ensured that retiring Head Coach Joe Frager’s final season was one to remember. Under new Head Coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis, fans should keep an eye on additions to the Stags’ lineup: freshman, Kate Peek, and transfer, Izabela Nicoletti Leite.
Last season, Iona University gave it their all in impressive fights against Siena College and Rider University, winning both times. But Iona has remained consistent in their MAAC bottom-middle placement, and in order to climb the ranks, Iona must augment their well-rounded defense with more offense, taking all scoring opportunities. This is a strategy they tried to take at the end of last season, according to The Ionian, and if they continue this mindset into the new season, Iona should have high hopes.
Manhattan fought tooth and nail all the way into the MAAC Championship game but could not beat Fairfield for the title. Though the Jaspers' key player, Courtney Warley, recently graduated, Manhattan has many new prospective recruits and transfers this season. Dee Dee Davis, who was co-captain alongside Warley last year, is back to avenge the second-place finish.
Marist College Marist College ended the regular season atop the MAAC standings, but struggled in the post-season. New coach Erin Doughty, who has been part of the program both as an assistant to long-time coach Brian Giorgio and as a player, has an experienced squad that will be motivated by their disappointing early exit. The Foxes’ high-scorers from the prior season, Zaria Shazer and Kiara Fisher, could thrive with new direction from Coach Doughty.
Mount St. Mary’s University
Mount St. Mary’s joined the MAAC July 2022 as the only school from Maryland. Formerly in the Northeast Conference, the Mountaineers climbed to the top three in the NEC standings last season, but now St. Mary’s is starting anew. Several freshmen and transfer students join a solid core of underclassmen. One thing is for sure: This season, don’t count the Mountaineers out.
The Purple Eagles maintained a strong and consistent offense all 2021-2022 season. Finishing fourth in the conference, Niagara hopes to raise their standing even higher. With returning senior and lead scorer Angel Parker as their anchor, Niagara should be a top competitor for the 2022-2023 season.
Quinnipiac could very well take a spot in the MAAC Championship this season. The 2021-2022 season was momentous, as the Bobcats became first-ever eleventh seed to make it to the MAAC semifinals. Despite losing to eventual runner-up Manhattan, Quinnipiac looks to improve even more in the upcoming season.
Rider’s strong back court, comprised of Amanda Mobley, Mikayla Firebaugh and Jessika Schiffer, lead the team. Head Coach Lynn Miligan believes the conference will be as competitive as ever, but she has high hopes for this season, saying: “We have a veteran core that we feel is ready for the next step. We have the pieces and need to put them all together. I really like our leadership at the top and willingness to continue to grow physically and mentally.”
Saint Peter’s University
Saint Peter’s University had a decent season last year, with wins against Siena and Niagara. Outside of MAAC teams, Saint Peter’s beat the number one team of the NEC, Fairleigh Dickinson University. As these successes against top-tier competition show, Saint Peter’s has the power to improve their standing in the MAAC and make it into the championship finals. The Peacocks, though losing many upperclassmen, have a special new transfer from Fairfield, Jazmine Carter, who could give Saint Peter’s an inside advantage.
Siena College’s strength for the 2022-2023 season lies in their players’ experiences outside the collegiate level. Sophomore Valencia Fontenelle-Posson represented the United States in the Deaflympics, and several new Saints are returning from playing internationally. The strong offense from these high scorers might change the course of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s ranks.
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