New coach, strong team aspires to make it into playoffs

TEMP ORARY November 14, 2012 0

With a new coach, new team and new season on its way, the Elizabethtown College women’s basketball team looks to repeat and supersede their run at the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Championship.
The Jays finished their 2011-2012 season in the semifinals round of the conference championships with a loss to Lebanon Valley College. The Flying Dutchmen would go on to the NCAA tournament, ending in the Sweet 16 against University of Mary Washington. The last time the Jays entered the playoffs was more than a decade ago, and they came away with a championship. They look to continue their success coming off a 16-9 season.
Etown will start the season under new management with alumna and national champion Sherri Gorman taking over for career coach Yvonne Kauffman. Gorman will be Etown’s first new head coach since 1970 and has huge shoes to fill. Gorman started her career with Etown receiving a fourth place ranking in the league’s preseason poll.
The search for the new head coach did not have to go far, staying within the Blue Jay family. The Etown alumna has two NCAA Division III National Championships under her belt under the direction of Kauffman. With the start of the season, Gorman will become the ninth women’s basketball head coach in the history of the sport at the College.
Gorman entered the Ira R. Herr Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. She has spent the last seven years coaching at Lancaster Mennonite High School. Under Gorman, the Blazers won the Class AAA District 3 Championship, and in the 2006-07 and 2009-10 seasons, the team competed in the district finals.
Of the new coach, junior and captain Kendra Beittel stated, “There are always going to be changes when an entire new coach staff comes into any program. I think the changes so far are good and will benefit us. As a team, it takes some adjusting but if we stick together as a whole, those changes won’t be that difficult to handle.”
With the help of Gorman, the Jays look to lean on the support of their returners. Etown brings back their top three scorers All-Conference Second Team members senior Nadine Yunginger and junior Taylor Kreider, as well as top five career scorer Beittel. The three combined totalled 760 points, half of the Jays’ points last season. Also back are key reserves senior Katy Fogel and sophomores Taylor Alwine, Marissa Ferris and Erika Ferro. Beittel stated, “With losing only two players last year we have a lot of returning players, which is a big strength for us. We are not a team that has one all star who stands out every game. I think this year there will, again, be a different person to step up and do well each game.”
Etown’s team will take on a few additions. Transfer student sophomore Taylor Santor will add to the strong line-up. Santor transferred from York College, who made their own trip to the Sweet 16 last year. The Jays will also have three first-year players join the team: Shanelle Koch, Alyssa Aichele and Rachel Forjan. Beittel said, “Each of our first-years have different strengths, so it’s hard to say which one will stand out. I think each of them will bring something different to the team, which in my opinion is far more beneficial than having just one stand-out player. They each have done well so far and I’m excited to see them improve as we get into playing games.”
The Jays have been learning to adjust to the new coaching style throughout preseason practice. Ferro said, “Practices so far this year have been going very well. All the coaches have been pushing us for the first couple of weeks to make sure we are ready for our first game, which is coming up this week. They are constantly keeping us moving and learning new things. We also work on a lot of shooting so we hope to see improvements within that as well.”
Defending conference champion Lebanon Valley topped the preseason poll with 77 points and six first place picks. Messiah College fell into the second spot with 71 points and with only two first place picks. In third, Widener University picked up 70 points and two first place picks as well. Etown grabbed 53 points and fourth. Following the Blue Jays are Lycoming College (43), Alvernia University (37) and Stevenson University (34). In places 8-10 are Arcadia University (28), Albright College (27) and Hood College (10).
Etown will open its regular season with their first home game on Thursday, Nov. 15 against Susquehanna University at 7:30 p.m. The Jays’ first game against Susquehanna was played in the 1935-36 season. Last year the Jays tallied another win in the two teams’ long history, making their overall record 50-21 against the Crusaders. Etown looks to pick up the 51st win come Thursday.

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