BETHLEHEM, Pa. – After a 17-win season and an appearance in the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament, the Lehigh women’s basketball team was predicted to finish fifth in the annual preseason poll released by the Patriot League on Thursday. The Mountain Hawks garnered 58 points, finishing just eight points shy of fourth-place Army (66 points).
"Every year our goal is to put ourselves in a position to compete for a championship and this year is no different," said head coach Sue Troyan. "We fell short of that goal last year, but we have a number of players back that know the feeling. Being picked fifth really gives the girls more incentive to come out and prove themselves this year."
Lehigh won 17 games a season ago, including a 9-5 effort in Patriot League play that earned them a second-seed in the Patriot League Tournament. After an impressive 16-point victory over Bucknell in the quarterfinals, the Mountain Hawks fell to eventual champion Navy in the semifinals, 64-59. It was the sixth-consecutive year that Lehigh had advanced to the semifinals and the fourth-straight season that it hosted the game. Though the Mountain Hawks fell short a year ago, that loss has helped fuel the hunger and desire of this year’s squad.
"Kelly represents someone that is very talented and skilled in terms of perimeter shooting and has the ability to put the ball on the floor and has the ability to be a scorer for us," said Troyan. "Katie is a player that can do it on both ends as she plays tremendous defense, rebounds the ball and is someone that has really improved her offensive skills and can carry more of a load on the offensive end as well."
Lehigh returns nine letterwinners from last year’s squad, including senior Kelly Peterson who is the team’s leading returning scorer. Peterson averaged 9.5 ppg last season, while the Concord, Calif. native posted a .909 clip from the charity stripe and a team-best 43 treys. Sophomore Katie O’Reilly is the second-leading returning scorer, as she averaged 6.4 points per game a year ago, scoring in double-figures six times, while also pulling down 108 rebounds.
Navy was the predicted top-finisher, receiving 89 points and eight first-place votes as the Mids will feature 2012-13 Patriot League Preseason Player of the Year Jade Greif as a part of their starting line-up. American collected 85 points and six first-place votes. Holy Cross was tabbed to finish third, as the Crusaders feature two players on the Patriot League’s Preseason All-League team. Army garnered 66 points and a first-place vote, while Lafayette (30), Bucknell (25) and Colgate (25) rounded out the preseason rankings.
Joining Greif on the Preseason All-League team are Holy Cross products Alex Smith and Amy Lepley, along with Army guard Anna Simmers and American junior Alexis Dobbs.
Patriot League Preseason Poll
1. Navy – 89 points (eight first-place votes)
2. American – 85 (6)
3. Holy Cross – 70 (1)
4. Army – 66 (1)
5. Lehigh – 58
6. Lafayette – 30
7. Bucknell – 25
Colgate – 25
Patriot League Preseason All-League Team
Name Cl. School Pos.
Alexis Dobbs Jr. American Guard
Anna Simmers Sr. Army Guard
Alex Smith Jr. Holy Cross Guard
Amy Lepley Sr. Holy Cross Forward/Guard
Jade Greif Jr. Navy Forward