Record: 9-15 (4-4 at home)
After a slow start that saw the team drop its first five contests, the Owls began to gel under first year head coach Marc Heidorf. UMPI would go 8-5 over their next 13 contests including come-from-behind wins over in-state rivals UMaine-Machias (x2), UMaine-Fort Kent, and UMaine-Augusta. A heartbreaking 3OT classic that the Owls dropped to Fort Kent, 74-73, in early February took alot of wind out of the sails of UMPI's push to reach .500. However the team did recover to finish the season on a positive, a 47-30 defensive clinic that they put on Vermont Tech.
"I could not be more proud of the team we had this season. With their passion and mental toughness we did our best to focus on what we DID have and what we COULD do rather than our short-comings. The result with us hanging with some very strong Division III programs as well as pulling out some late victories. You do not do that without a great deal of trust in each other."
Other thoughts from Coach Heidorf:
What aspects of the TEAM improved as the season progressed?
Marc Heidorf: I really liked the way our team defense improved. Our scheme is not going to fool anyone. What we want to do is go out and work harder and work smarter than our opponent. The kind of energy it takes to do that adequately requires a deep bench and a chance for players to take breaks. We did not have that luxury this year. Yet despite having to play really long stretches at times, our players made opponents work for every shot, every cut, and every drive.
Are there any INDIVIDUALS that impress you and/or stepped up their games?
MH: Emily Moore (Sr./Lisbon, ME) took the reigns of the team and had her best season as a collegiate athlete. Her leadership on the court helped us pull out some games that were close down the stretch. Rashell Saucier (So./Washburn, ME) was a very solid player before I got here. Midway through the season I challenged her to improve her assist/turnover ratio which at the time was about a -50. The rest of the season she finished with 1:1. Olivia McNally (So./Sherman, ME) took some strides as well. The middle part of the season she attacked the basket and her points per game rose into the double figures. As she transitions to becoming an upperclassman on the team, if she can find a way to become more consistent with that, we will look to her as a source to replace some of the production we will lose with Emily Moore graduating. Renee Moore (So./Lisbon, ME) played the entire season with a good amount of back pain. She not only played but started every game and played at a high level.
What are some characteristics/instances that you feel defined this year's squad?
MH: We had a very long road trip to SUNY-Canton after the holidays where it felt like we were on a bus forever just to get there. By the time we hit the gym for noon game on a Monday, we were road weary and not in our best form and it showed. Somehow, despite trailing the entire game including being down by 13 points with less than 7 minutes remaining, we did not quit, we continued to focus, and in the end came away with an improbable 58-56 win. I think the"never stop battling" attitude in that game is a microcosm of the approach our players took all season.
We hear alot still about the triple-overtime game vs. Fort Kent that we lost by a point. I'm not sure we fully recovered from that at the time. However I think now the kids can at least take some pride in the fact that they played in such a memorable contest. it also doesn't hurt to have that as motivation as they set the goal to not lose to them again next year!
Emily Moore (Point Guard / Lisbon, ME)
Moore stepped up her game this season and people took notice. The AD3I Player of the Week and 2nd Team All-Conference player set career highs in points per game (7.3), rebounds per game (3.9), and assists per game (3.8). Moore's leadership on and off the court led her to being named team co-captain and team co-MVP.
Chelsea Boudreau (Guard / Wallace, Nova Scotia)
After helping the team as a practice player in the first half of the season Boudreau, who had played for the Owls a couple of years back, came out of "retirement" for the second part of the season to help with UMPI's season long struggle to have enough players for practices and games. Boudreau's effect on the team was felt best in practices where her aggressive and competitive style of play despite diminutive size (5'3) made it tough for any teammates to justify taking plays off or not going all out.
With a solid core of players set to return for the Owls next season, there is reason to be optimistic that the team will be able to build upon this year's successes. How well the program does at finding someone to fill Moore's shoes at point guard, increasing height, and improving depth will all be determining factors in HOW MUCH success is possible. Three starters returning (Emily Pelletier, Saucier, McNally) will give Presque Isle a solid group to build around.
"I am very excited about the players that are set to return to us next season. I believe they will set the tone for what we want to accomplish defensively as well as be 'go to' scorers in big situations. How quickly our newcomers are able to meet the intensity and knowledge of our returners will play a big role in how much progress we can make next year."
-- Owls' coach Marc Heidorf