Boston, Mass.—UMBC women's basketball was picked to finish fifth by the coaches of the conference in the America East preseason poll, the conference announced Thursday. Voting was conducted by the conference's nine head coaches who were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Defending regular season champion New Hampshire was selected to win the league, garnering eight first place votes. The defending tournament champions, Albany, picked up the other first place vote, finishing second with 53 points. Binghamton and Hartford rounded out the top four with 51 and 43 points respectively.
The Retrievers came in fifth with 34 points, just ahead of Maine in sixth with 31 points. Last year the Black Bears reached their second straight tournament championship appearance. Vermont (24 points), Stony Brook (16) and UMass Lowell (8) rounded out the nine-team field.
Last year, the Retrievers finished with a 15-16 record, going 10-6 in America East play, reaching their second straight postseason appearance, playing the WBI Tournament. The Retrievers return nine players from last year's squad, led by senior guard Laura Castaldo (West Nyack, N.Y./Clarkstown South). Castaldo averaged 11.3 points per game, including 12.6 per game in conference play. Her play earned her All-Conference Third Team honors.
Six newcomers join Coach Stern's squad in 2017-18. O'lesheya Braxton (Paterson, N.J./Paterson Kennedy), Natalia Louhisdon (Monmouth Junction, N.J./South Brunswick), Janee'a Summers (Bound Brook, N.J./Bound Brook), and Melody Van Ness (Somerville, N.J./Somerville) will join Kristen Teklits (New Fairfield, Conn./New Fairfield) and Baltimore native Jen Gast (Baltimore, Md./Catonsville) to make up the freshman class. Gast is the first player from nearby Catonsville High School to suit up for the Retrievers.
UMBC opens the season at Fordham (Nov. 10) and Hofstra (Nov. 12) before hosting Gettysburg (Nov. 14) and LIU Brooklyn (Nov. 17). America East play opens with a road trip to New Hampshire on January 3 before the home opener against Vermont three days later.
The America East Tournament kicks off with a first round play-in game on February 28 with the nine-seed playing at the eight seed. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine for the second consecutive year on March 3-4. The championship game will be played on March 9 at the highest remaining seed on ESPNU for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
All Retriever home games, and America East games will be streamed on ESPN3 for the 2017-18 season.
Season tickets are still available, click here for more information.
2017-18 Preseason Coaches' Poll
Position/School Points (First Place Votes)
1. New Hampshire 64 (8)
2. Albany 53 (1)
3. Binghamton 51
4. Hartford 43
5. UMBC 34
6. Maine 31
7. Vermont 24
8. Stony Brook 16
9. UMass Lowell 8
Preseason All-Conference Team
Sierra DaCosta, Hartford
Jessica Fequiere, Albany
Alyssa James, Binghamton
Carlie Pogue, New Hampshire
Imani Watkins, Binghamton