By TRISTEN BIANCO
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
After a loss in the quarterfinals of the America East Championships last year, the UNH women’s basketball team is looking to rebound as a title contender for the 2015-16 season.
The ‘Cats finished fourth in conference play at the end of last season, with a record of 9-7 in America East and a 17-12 overall record.
Despite the loss of five letterman, including Sarah-Marie Frankenberger and Kaylee Kilpatrick, the Wildcats have nine key contributors returning.  In addition to the veteran squad, six new freshman joined the team.
UNH will be led by two senior captains, Elizabeth Belanger and Corinne Coia.  Belanger finished last season as a member of the America East All-Conference First Team.  The senior guard played in 28 of 28 games last year, leading the team with 15.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
Coia returns to the court after missing last season with an ACL injury.  Coia, who was named to the American East Preseason All-Conference Team, has been cleared to play and is set to battle for the upcoming season. The senior forward looked extremely healthy and explosive in the past few weeks preparing for her final year at UNH, according to her coach and teammates.
“She was really missed last year,” Belanger said of her teammate. “Just the post presence and the fact the she can run the floor, it brings a huge a part to our team. [Coia] is obviously a leader, a captain on and off the floor.  It’s great to have her back.”
The Wildcats are a versatile squad with a variety of players able to play different positions.  It’s clear that lineups will be set according to each individual game in order to produce the best possible results on the floor.
Belanger and junior guard Kristen Anderson provide an explosive shooting ability and fast-paced attack the ‘Cats will rely on to win games.  Like Coia, Belanger was named to the American East Preseason All-Conference team.
In the post, Coia and Carlie Pogue, a sophomore center, give UNH height and power to control the ball under the basket. Pogue was named to the America East Conference All-Rookie Team last season.
In the America East preseason poll UNH was ranked third, an extremely motivating ranking leading into the season, the team said.  With a balance of seasoned vets and fresh newcomers, the Wildcats seek to bring not just a conference title home to Lundholm Gymnasium but an NCAA tournament berth.
“I think we’ve had a solid preseason,” said Coach Maureen Magarity. “Most people know who we have and what we’re capable of.”
Magarity is entering her fifth season as the ‘Cats head coach with an overall record of 73-76.  Magarity and her staff have managed four consecutive double-digit win seasons during her tenure at UNH.
The Wildcats’ season-opener will take place on Friday at 5 p.m. UNH plays host to Colby-Sawyer College, a Division III opponent, in the Lundholm Gymnasium.

Executive Editor