The 2018-19 season was historic for the NEC Women’s Basketball team. The Pilgrims finished the season with a 19-10 overall record and the first appearance in the NCAA tournament in program history. They finished their first season in the NECC with a 15-3 record in conference play and earned the top seed in the conference tournament. After cruising to a victory in the quarterfinals over Southern Vermont College and narrowly defeating Eastern Nazarene College by two points in the semi-finals, the Pilgrims beat Becker College by a score of 61-40 to win the tournament and clinch their spot in the NCAA bracket.
The Pilgrims started the season slow, only winning three out of their first ten games. When asked what contributed most to the turnaround Head Coach Erica Ledy said, “we did not have a senior on the team and we had 7 freshmen. So, we just grew-up.”
“In the beginning I knew we were going to struggle, we are a young team full of juniors, sophomores and freshmen so things weren’t going to come easy,” said junior guard Haleigh Martin. “Playing together and communication was definitely key this year. As well as keeping our energy high and always trying to remain positive.”
They finished the season strong, going 16-3 in their final 19 games including having separate winning streaks of seven and eight games. The 19 wins was also the most for the program since the 2014-15 season. Despite having the season end in the first round of the NCAA tournament at the hands of the University of Scranton, it was a momentous year for the team.
“It was great to see my players experience an NCAA tournament. It is something that not many players get to experience. I was very proud of their NECC Conference Championship. I think the girls had a great experience,” said Coach Ledy.
“Making the NCAA tournament truly was an amazing experience; it is like nothing else, you simply just can’t describe the atmosphere or memories. It will inspire me to always keep pushing, we were capable of making the NCAA tournament so there isn’t a doubt in my mind we can’t do it again,” said Martin.
Junior guard Rene Hudson led the Pilgrims on the court by scoring over 18 points per game to go along with better than six rebounds and three assists. She became the 12th player in program history to surpass the 1,000 point milestone, on November 30th. Hudson currently is third in program history in scoring and has a chance to finish her career with over 2000 points with a strong senior year next season. She was also named to the NECC First-Team as well as winning NECC Player of the Year and was even named to the Division III all-region team.
Hudson was joined by junior transfer guard Jaz Laracuente, when she scored her 1,000 collegiate point on February 5th against Dean College. Laracuente finished the season averaging 10.6 points per game to go along with 3.2 rebounds, and was second on the team in minutes played per game with 23.4.
Junior Haleigh Martin and freshman Kayla Goldring joined Hudson in leading the team by starting a team high 27 of the 29 games played. Goldring finished with 7.4 points per game and was the team’s second leading rebounder. Martin played the second most overall minutes on the team and recorded the third most assists this season. Junior Daleia Boutwell came in as the team’s third leading scorer and rebounder with 7.9 and 4.4 respectively.
Despite the individual success it was a team effort for the Pilgrims to achieve their goals and reach the NCAA tournament.
“Throughout the season we’ve had our ups and downs but I believe that every person on our team played a key role in every moment of a game or practice. Of course some may believe the starting five are the key players but the starting five wouldn’t be where they are without having the other teammates pushing them in practice to be the best they can be,” said Martin.
Head Coach Erica Ledy completed her 17th season at NEC by leading the team to her first conference championship and bid in the NCAA tournament. Ledy had twice before led the Pilgrims to conference championship games, most recently in 2016-17, however they came up short both times. In her 17 seasons, Ledy has a record of 235-207 for a winning percentage of .532.
The 2019-20 season will provide an opportunity for more records to be broken both individually and as a team. It will also give the Pilgrims the opportunity to defend their NECC championship and make a return trip to the NCAA tournament.
“We have incredible potential for next season if our players take the opportunity of this off season to continue to improve,” said Coach Ledy.