What’s next for the McMaster women’s basketball team?
With the 2022-2023 season finished and five key seniors graduating, the women's basketball team are able to reflect on their previous season’s accomplishments and share where they hope to go next
The start of the 2022-2023 season saw the McMaster University women’s basketball team struggle. They conceded two losses and seemed to struggle in finishing out games.
As the season rolled along, the team began to pick up form. They took big wins against big teams and showed their commanding nature against teams such as the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks and Nippising Lakers with blow-out wins.
“Overall it was such a great season working with this team, there are so many great vets and so many great younger players. We were so cohesive, and we were so hungry to achieve the same goals,” said Arianne Soriano, a senior point guard.
The team managed to finish the season with a 17 win and six loss record and were able to finish first in the Ontario University Athletics’ central division. With a first round bye-week, the Marauders faced the Guelph Gryphons in the Critelli Cup quarter finals.
After losing to the Gryphons early in their season, the Marauders looked to show their improved run of form in the quarterfinals. Facing off for a second time, this time with home court advantage, the Marauders would need to push full throttle to get a win.
The Marauders won the game with a score of 70-63 and were spurred onto this victory with many Marauder players stepping up. Big name players such as Sarah Gates and Jenna Button lead the team in scoring, while Arianne Soriano led in rebounds.
The win over Guelph led the team to face off against the Carleton Ravens, this time facing their opponent on the road. Having lost to the Ravens in just the second game of their season, the Marauders knew this game would be a tough matchup.
“We started preparing to play against Carelton as soon as possible, as soon as we knew we were facing them,” explained Soriano.
The Marauders ultimately lost to the Ravens, ending their playoff run. The Ravens were able to mount a lead early, finishing the first quarter nine points above the Marauders. Despite a huge third quarter push, the Marauders were unable to complete a comeback and the game ended 69-55 in favor of the Ravens, who would go on to win the OUA championship, and who just advanced to the U Sports national championship game as of Mar. 11.
“It felt like we were a bit nervous and weren’t as confident in ourselves in the offensive we can run. Defensive wise we were able to get as many stops as we could, we just weren’t getting our shots in,” said Soriano.
With the Marauders season ending in an unfortunate way, the graduation of five seniors packs an extra punch. Sarah Gates — the 2022-2023 national women’s player of the year — Clare Sharkey, Arianne Soriano, Pietra Kamstra and Mia Spadafora are the five seniors planning on graduating. Four of the five were members of the 2018-2019 national championship team.
“This has been a long journey, but it's been an amazing one, and I cherish every moment I spend with my team,” explained Soriano.
All five play vital roles within the team, and their departure in the next year will change the shape of the team drastically.
Despite falling short of the Cartelli Cup, two seniors were recognized by the OUA. Sarah Gates earned the OUA’s Most Valuable Player title and Arianne Soriano earned the Joy Bellinger award, highlighting outstanding service to the sport and to university athletics.
“The award would be nothing without my teammates and the environment I have around me, they empower me so much to want to do more in the Mac community whether it's on the team or off the team,” said Soriano.
The Marauders will look to rebuild coming into next season and will certainly learn from veteran players who have come before them. Maintaining the standard set by the highly successful graduating class leaves a tall task ahead.