By MIKE SMITH
During her time playing for the Harrison girls basketball team, Andi Moschetta never accrued much postseason experience. In fact, Moschetta, who graduated in 2011, played her entire high school career without advancing to the second round of the Class A sectionals.
Things have changed.
Now a junior at Springfield College, Moschetta finally got a taste of playoff basketball, playing an integral role on a Pride team that stormed through its conference championships, winning a NEWMAC title and earning a berth in the NCAA Division III basketball tournament.
Although Springfield eventually lost to Amherst 63-49, Moschetta said the experience will be one the team will build on for next year.
With no seniors on the roster, the Pride didn’t seem like a tournament team at the beginning of the year, but it didn’t take long for people to take notice of the upstarts.
After a 1-3 start to the season, Springfield reeled-off an impressive win streak and finished the regular season with a 14-11 record.
“Our goal coming in was to make the NEWMACs, we thought it would be more of a rebuilding year,” Moschetta, who started every game at guard this season, said. “But then we went on a seven-game win streak and really started playing well.”
Earning the sixth seed in the NEWMAC tourney, the Pride upended second-seeded Wheaton and third-seeded Coast Guard to reach the finals, where they knocked-off top-seeded Smith 51-43 on March 2 to win an automatic bid in the NCAAs.
Moschetta played 23 minutes in the win, grabbing four rebounds and scoring two points.
“It was definitely surreal, I’d never experienced anything like that,” she said of the experience. “The atmosphere was incredible.”
Five days later, the Pride fell in the first round of the NCAA tournament, losing to a 25-3 Amherst team at Lambros Arena in Oneonta. That loss, Moschetta said, has all of the team’s returning players eager to get back on the court next year.
“We’ve already discussed it as a team,” she said. “We want to win the NEWMACs again and go further in the tournament, but we know it’s going to be harder because the other teams know about us now.”
Moschetta, who will be called upon to provide veteran leadership again in the 2014-15 season, said she won’t have any problem putting in work during the offseason to improve and take the team to new heights.
“The coaching staff gave us a regiment of what to do in the offseason‑a workout plan‑and I will be following that pretty strictly over the summer,” she said. “Aside from that, I’m going to be working on my own, developing my shot and working on my lateral movement, and I’m going to play in a summer league with some of my Springfield teammates.”