Women’s Basketball ranked #4 in NEC Preseason Poll

The Sacred Heart University women’s basketball team opens up the season ranked fourth in the Northeast Conference (NEC) coaches’ preseason poll. 

The Pioneers are led by Head Coach Jessica Mannetti, who is now in her fifth season running the program. 

“I am grateful to the NEC coaches who always recognize our tradition of success at SHU,” said Mannetti. “We hit some roadblocks last year, and I want us to stay inspired and motivated to prove something.” 

Sacred Heart returns graduate student Adrianne Hagood in her fifth and final year. Hagood averaged a team high of 13.6 points per game in the 2020-2021 season, which led to the honors of second team all-NEC as well as the all-NEC preseason team for the upcoming season. 

“It’s a really great honor to be selected so high in the NEC,” said Hagood. “It gives me even more motivation going into this season, trying to rise above what I did last year.” 

The Pioneers are also returning sixth year guard Nikki Johnson for her final season as well. Johnson was selected to the all-NEC third team in the 2020-2021 season after leading the Pioneers with 3.7 assists per game. 

“It’s a privilege to be noticed and acknowledged,” said Johnson. “I am very grateful to be selected to the all-NEC third team.” 

Along with Hagood and Johnson, another key returner for the Pioneers is sophomore forward/center Kelsey Wood. 

Wood led the team in rebounding during the 2020-2021 season, averaging 7.0 rebounds per game, and her strong efforts on the boards earned Wood a spot on the all-NEC rookie team. 

“It means a lot to be selected, I’ve been working for that since I was 10 years old,” said Wood. “Coming in as a first year, I didn’t know a lot about the team, but I worked hard, my team worked hard with me, so it meant a lot to see my hard work finally paying off.” 

The team finished the 2020-2021 season 8-10 overall and placed fifth in the NEC with a conference record of 8-8. 

“The team has to respond to the setbacks we faced last year, they have to come to work and be highly motivated to outwork our opponent,” said Mannetti. “I think the team will be excited to have fans in the stands and play off that energy that wasn’t there last year.” 

Ahead of SHU in the preseason poll are the returning champions Mount St. Mary University, along with Wagner College and Saint Francis University. 

SHU faced all of those NEC teams twice in the 2020-2021 season and split each matchup. 

“We can handle the pressure of being ranked so high,” said Hagood. “We’re going to take it as an honor and a privilege, that chip on our shoulder will be there and we’re going to try and rise above in the end.” 

Sacred Heart tips off their season on the road at Hartford on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. 

“We have to come to the game ready and start ready,” said Johnson. “If we play our game, do all the little things, stay together, value each possession, communicate, and lock in on defense, then we’ll succeed.” 

Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.

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