North Adams, MA- Last season, first year coach Loren Stock inherited a roster with six seniors. Coming into the 2017-18 season which kicks off Wednesday, Stock will turn to a younger core as the Trailblazers look to take a step forward in her second season. MCLA hosts Cobleskill in the opener at the Amsler Campus Center on Wednesday at 7pm.
In her first season at the helm, MCLA went 10-16 overall including a 3-9 mark in the MASCAC. Stock did lead the Trailblazers to the MASCAC semifinals with a win over Worcester State. MCLA narrowly missed out on a trip to the conference finals falling to Framingham State 60-59 to conclude their season.
Entering this season, Stock will have to replace their top two scorers from a year ago. Kayla Hotaling was an all-conference selection after averaging a double double and leading the team at 13.5 ppg. Courtney McLaughlin, now on the Trailblazer sidelines, chipped in with 12.2 ppg.
While MCLA lost six players with significant experience, they do return junior Karina Mattera along with their lone senior in Emily Moulton. Mattera, a slashing guard from Johnston, RI, scored 8 ppg last season and will look to take on an increased scoring load this season. Moulton had her best season in a Trailblazer uniform last year as well as the local North Adams product averaged 6 ppg and 5 rebounds a night.
A few other returning players will see a significant increase in minutes this season led by point guard McKenzie Robinson and forward Courtney Pingelski. Both players have seen spot starts during their careers and can be threats from beyond the three point line.
Another pair of juniors that could be thrust into the starting lineup is Sam Gawron and L'Rae Brundige. Gawron is another player who can knock it down from beyond the arc and should get ample opportunities to impact the lineup. Brundige adds some size and will look to become a post presence for MCLA. Both players have seen action during their first two seasons at MCLA.
Sophomore guard Kylah Langston figures to be in the mix as well as she saw limited minutes during her freshman season. Six foot center Erika Ryan showed flashes last season of being a solid defender. She was second on the team in blocked shots in limited action and should see increased opportunities moving forward.
The early season schedule should provide some clarity for the Trailblazers as they look to find the right mix of players. After the opener with Cobleskill, MCLA heads on the road for three straight contests. MCLA will then close the first half of the season with four straight at home highlighted by a matchup against Keene State on 12/5.
When MCLA returns to action after the holiday break, they face a stiff challenge with Springfield and Babson awaiting them before the calendar turns to January. The tough stretch continues with a road tilt at Union before a home game with Becker on January 4th. MCLA opens conference play at home against defending champion Westfield State on January 6th.
The MASCAC home slate features Worcester State (1/13), Salem State (1/23), Bridgewater State (1/31), Fitchburg State (2/7), and senior day with Framingham State on 2/17.