WATERVILLE, Maine – In a selection that seems to foreshadow a competitive North Athletic Conference season, the Castleton University women's basketball team was one of four teams to receive at least one first-place vote as it finished third overall in the 2016-17 NAC Preseason Coaches' Poll, announced Friday morning by the league office.
Husson, the defending NAC regular season and tournament champion, received five first-place votes on its way to the top of the poll with 91 points. Maine Maritime earned two first-place votes to finish second in the poll with 85 points, followed by the Spartans with one first-place vote on its way to 79 points and New England College with 75 points, including two first-place votes, for fourth place.
Colby-Sawyer ended up in fifth place in the poll with 63 points, ahead of Johnson State in sixth place with 51 points and seventh place Maine-Farmington with 41 points. Lyndon State collected 28 points for eighth place, just ahead of Thomas in ninth place with 26 points, while Green Mountain finished in 10th place in the poll with 11 points.
Castleton advanced to the title game of the NAC Tournament last season, ending the 2015-16 season with a 21-6 overall record, including a 15-3 mark within the conference to finish in second place in the regular season standings. The Spartans have won at least 20 games in five straight seasons, including three NAC titles and the ECAC championship in 2013.
The Spartans return eight players from last season, but will need to replace All-Conference performers Jade Desroches and Bryanna DuPont. Lindsay Sabo is the team's leading returner in scoring after averaging 9.4 points per game, thanks in part to 52 made three-pointers. Amanda Beatty will be looked to for increased production after contributing 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in 2015-16. Makayla Farrara started the final four games of the year and was named to the All-Tournament Team after averaging 11.5 points per game in the two postseason contests.
Castleton opens the 2016-17 season Tuesday, Nov. 15, against Elms College in Chicopee, Mass., starting at 7 p.m. The home opener is one week later against Plymouth State on Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m., with the NAC slate starting Wednesday, Nov. 30, against New England College at 7:30 p.m., as the women's basketball team will play in the second game of every conference doubleheader this season.