Retooled Mount Saint Vincent Mystics Ready For Another Shot at ACAA Title

MSVU Huddle
Head coach Mark Forward and his staff have brought in a talented group of newcomers to help retool the roster for the Mystics ahead of the 2018-19 season. (Source: ACAA.com) (Header: ACAA.com)

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — In anything that we do as humans, consistency is a key to success.

For the Mount Saint Vincent (MSVU) Mystics’ women’s basketball program, consistency has been the driving force behind their successes over the past nine seasons. Since 2010, the Mystics have secured one gold medal and four silver medals at the ACAA Championships, as well as a silver medal and a fourth-place finish at the CCAA National Championships.

Consistency has been at the forefront for the program, and head coach Mark Forward looks to continue that trend in 2018-19. The Mystics don’t necessarily bring in the most talented players each year, but they add players who fly under the radar but have the drive and work ethic to succeed. You can’t teach somebody the drive to succeed or teach them a proper work ethic. Either you have those things, or you don’t.

If you have those things, chances are the Mystics want you on their team.

Last season, the Mystics lost the ACAA Championship game in overtime to the Mount Allison Mounties, 77-71. MSVU went 17-1 over the course of the regular season, and despite their loss in the title game, they took part in the CCAA National Championships. A fourth-place finish at nationals wasn’t the result the team was looking for, but it gives them something to improve on over the course of the new campaign.

In 2018-19, the Mystics will have a roster mixed with veterans and newcomers, all of whom have talent and the work ethic to make themselves better each time they step onto the court. They have their sights set on another spot in the CCAA National Championships, and will look to continue their recent run of success in the ACAA.

Throughout the 2017-18 season, the Mystics were virtually unstoppable. Their lone blemish during the regular season came in their third game of the season, and they closed the campaign on a 15-game winning streak to enter the post-season with a ton of momentum behind them.

The loss to Mount Allison in the ACAA Championship game didn’t stop the Mystics from appearing in the CCAA National Championship tournament. A two-point loss to the Humber Hawks in the semi-finals sent the Mystics into the bronze medal game.

In the end, MSVU fell just short of a podium finish, falling to the Nomades de Montmorency, 85-67.

Marika Williams was named to the 2018 All-Tournament First Team for her efforts over the championships, while Kate Gallant was named to the All-Tournament Second Team. Gallant was also named to the CCAA All-Canadian Team for the entire season.

Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, the Mystics will have a healthy mix of youth and experience on their roster. A total of six newcomers join the 10 returnees in the mix for Mark Forward’s team as they look to continue their recent run of success in the ACAA. With a significant influx of youth this season, the Mystics will lean on their fifth-year seniors for leadership both on and off the court.

Back from last year’s team is Maria Carroll, a fifth-year point guard from St. John’s Newfoundland. Throughout the regular season, Carroll finished third on the team with an average of 9.2 points per contest. She shot 37.9% from the floor and 31.5% from three-point range for the year. Add in her 3.2 rebounds and team-leading 3.4 assists per game, and it’s easy to see why Carroll will be looked upon to take on a leading role on the court as well as off of it.

With the graduation of both Williams and Gallant, Carroll is the team’s top returning scorer.

Joining Carroll as a fifth-year player with the Mystics this season is a player that you won’t find on last year’s squad. Madison Doucet is back in the mix with the Mystics after sitting out the 2017-18 season due to work requirements. Her presence will be felt from the outset of the season, as she is a talented athlete and a veteran who brings leadership qualities to the table that won’t show up in box scores.

Kelsey McGrath made 13 stars as a third-year player last season for the Mystics, and she will be back for her fourth year of eligibility in 2018-19. She will be looking to build off her stat line of 8.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest from last year. With the top two scorers having graduated, there is an opportunity for McGrath to take on an expanded role and build off last season’s performance.

Once again, Mark Forward and his staff have assembled a talented roster that will be right in the thick of things when it comes to the race for the ACAA title. The Mystics have a team of hard-working student-athletes who will put in the work necessary to succeed on the court as well as in the classroom. Last season, the Mystics had a team GPA of 3.4, showing that they know what it takes to succeed both on and off the court.

The Mystics have had several successful seasons since 2010, and they will look to continue their run with another appearance in the CCAA National Championship tournament come March.

– T. Bennett

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