Undefeated Newfield girls clinch IAC division

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With three games remaining in the regular season, Newfield girls basketball is ranked 10th in the state and is poised for a postseason run. Last year’s season ended in the Section IV semifinals, but everything has come together this year for the young Trojans team.

What makes this season even more impressive (and perhaps scary for opponents) is that the bulk of the roster is coming back next year. Of the 10 players on the team, only two will be graduating this year.

Head coach Brandon Steinorth is beyond happy with the results so far. While it could be easy to overlook the more immediate goals in favor of bigger and better accomplishments, Steinorth is taking it one at a time with his team.

“Things feel pretty good,” Steinorth said. “It’s fun telling friends and family that you’re 15-0. As far as expectations go, our hopes for this year were to be competitive in the division and put ourselves in a position to win the IAC Championship. We’ve been there three times in the last five years and lost all three times. It’s something this school hasn’t accomplished since 1980.”

His players aren’t very surprised at the results thus far. Junior Jenna Goodwin recalled having high expectations at the beginning of the year, and fellow junior Katie Moravec saw the success as a long time coming.

“We knew going into the season that we were going to succeed and do well just based on practices and warming up,” Moravec said. “[A] 15-0 [record] just proves that the work that we’ve shown is starting to pay off.”
With several players on the roster having first made the varsity team when they were in eighth grade, coach Steinorth had a “five-year plan” in place.

They’re ahead of schedule on that front, as next year was supposed to be the big year for the Trojans. Steinorth explained why everything’s come together this year.

“These guys have spent a lot of time together,” Steinorth said. “They’ve been playing together since they were 5, 6 years old at the rec level. We see a lot of programs where there are kids in their first or second year at the varsity level. We’ve got a lot of folks in their third and fourth year, and that makes a difference. In the fourth quarter where games are tight, these girls have been in those spots and that makes a difference.”

Katie Moravec’s twin sister, Kelly, touched on that chemistry that has built over the past decade.

“Ever since we were little, we’ve always played together on the same team,” Kelly said. “Jenna Goodwin’s dad was our rec coach, so we’ve always been surrounded by each other. Off the court, we’re really good friends. That’s a really good thing that we have, chemistry off the court the same as it is on. We just know each other and how we play.”

That chemistry has them playing leaps and bounds above the competition. They’ve averaged 56 points per game while giving up only 38. All but three of their 15 victories have come by double-digits, but there’s always something to improve in a coach’s eyes, even if they’re the 10th-ranked team in the state.

“There are so many ebbs and flows during the season,” Steinorth said. “Truthfully, I don’t think we’ve been playing our best basketball these past couple of weeks. There is certainly room to shoot the ball better. I’m really happy with how we’re rebounding. I’m happy with how we’re getting to the rim. I think we need to do a better job of making that extra pass and getting the ball in the hoop. Sometimes, it’s just that simple.”

While it’s great to consistently dominate opponents, the best lessons are learned in games that truly test what the team is made of. Their most recent game, a 52-47 win over Tioga, was one of those games.

“[We learned] that if we work together and work as a team the whole entire time and support each other that we can win,” Goodwin said.
Junior Maura Wood-Ellis added that the team is resilient.
“Just don’t give up,” Wood-Ellis said. “If we’re down, just have confidence that we can come back and win.”

For coach Steinorth, it’s been valuable to see how the team responds to pressure-filled situations. Another one of those games was a two-point victory over the defending state runner-ups Watkins Glen on Dec. 27.

“We don’t want to go through these huge stretches without adversity then get thrown into a championship game and hope we handle it well,” Steinorth said. “It’s been healthy for us to have the Watkins [Glen] game, the Tioga game and a few others that have made us understand the difference between urgency and panic. I feel we understand urgency pretty well right now.”

Newfield will be able to act upon the lessons they’ve learned not only in the postseason but next year as well, with eight of 10 players returning. Kelly Moravec touched upon that aspect of the team.

“That’s a great strength that we have,” Kelly said. “Just like last season, we’re just going to get better every single year and everyone on the team is going to work hard over the summer. I’m really excited for next year. I think it’s going to be just as good as this year.”

The next test for the Trojans is a battle with Elmira-Notre Dame at home on Friday, Feb. 7. With the IAC division locked up already, Newfield is looking to finish beyond where their season ended last year, which was the Section IV semifinals.

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