By: Julian Guilarte – Reporter
Erin Monahan overcame countless obstacles to lead the William Paterson women’s basketball team to a 14-12 record and a berth in the conference tournament.
The team was hit hard with the injuries, and illnesses forcing Monahan, the head coach, to make constant lineup changes, which made it hard for her to field a consistent starting five.
“I have coached this team for 24 years and I’ve dealt with more than ever this year. At one point we were so short on healthy bodies, we had football players, women’s soccer players, and assistant coaches practicing with us,” said Monahan.
Monahan credits the team with working hard, showing a lot of heart and not giving up, and she was able to get contributions from every player on her roster.
“The high points of our season were playing well in the non conference schedule winning the Christmas tournament with a young team, and scoring 90 points against Rowan on our home floor,” said Monahan.
The Pioneers play in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), and were the fifth seed in the tournament after going 9-9 in conference games.
On Feb 18th the Pioneers were eliminated in the first round of the NJAC tournament after losing 91-71 to the Rowan Profs in Glassboro NJ.
“The game really got away from us in the second half, Rowan really got the press defense going and started creating turnovers which allowed them to convert some easy layups,” said Monahan.
Monahan is an accomplished coach, having won over 400 games in her career, and has higher aspirations for her team such as winning the conference tournament and reaching the NCAA tournament, which she has done 11 times.
Monahan has seven players returning next year including Freshman Gabby Harris who lead the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game. On the defensive side of the ball Junior Tori Woetzel was a force for the Pioneers, leading team in rebounds and blocks with 7.7 and 1.2 respectively.
These two players will headline a solid returning class that Coach Monahan hopes to build on with recruiting, which presents another challenge.
Since she can’t fully focus on the recruitment process with games being played, Monahan often times sends her assistant coaches to watch the high school basketball games.
“Right now we have one player committed to our program for next season, but could end up having anywhere from eight to ten,” said Monahan.
Monahan has a message for those hoping to join her team next season and stresses the concept of team ball.
“The biggest challenge I have is getting the Freshman to buy into the system, the High School stars must be willing to show passion and play team defense”, said Monahan.
Monahan wants the outside world to know that her team will be prepared and ready for next season.
The Women’s Basketball team had their season ended back on Feb 18th after being defeated 91-71 by the Rowan Profs at Glassboro NJ, in the first round of their conference tournament.
The Pioneers play in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), and were the fifth seed in the tournament going 9-9 in conference games
The Pioneers failed to match their success of last season when they reached the semi finals of the tournament. The Pioneers play in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), and were the fifth seed in the tournament after finishing the season with a record of 14-12, going 9-9 in conference games
During the regular season the Pioneers and Profs played twice, the first matchup on Dec 3rd, 2016 was won by the Profs 83-70 in Glassboro NJ, while the second matchup on Jan 21st, 2017 was won by the Pioneers 90-81 in the rec center.
The Pioneers are coached by Erin Monahan who has accomplished a lot in her 24 seasons of coaching at her alma mater. Monahan has coached the team to a record of 457-199 including 11 bids to the NCCA Tournament, and three NJAC tournament championships. Monahan was named coach of the year in the 2011-2012 season after leading her team to an astounding record of 26-3.
Monahan has been able to get a lot of production out of her players, and the program has had 33 players receive all conference honors while two even won player of the year! Monahan also enjoyed success as a player scoring over 1,000 points before she graduated in 1990.
Gabby Harris Freshman South River N.J enjoyed a tremendous season being the only player to have a scoring average in double figures by scoring 14.3 points per game.
On the defensive side of the ball Tori Woetzel Junior Wyckoff N.J, was a force for the Pioneers leading team in rebounds and blocks with 7.7 and 1.2 respectively.
These two players headline a solid foundation that will be returning to play next season.
The program will also be losing three seniors Ashley Palmieri Edison N.J, Janae Clark South Plainfield N.J, and Nikole Williams Valley Stream N.Y.
These three players will all be graduating, thus leaving behind leadership and production that must be replaced.
Palmieri scored 11 points in her final game and finished the season averaging 3.8 points per game. Clark scored five points and pulled down three rebounds, and ended the season averaging 6.6 rebounds, which was second on the team. Williams scored two points and completed the season averaging 7.4 points per game, which was fifth on this team.