The Goshen College women’s basketball team is more than halfway through the season, and they have their eyes set on the Crossroads League tournament.

This season started off strong with the team winning their first three games, but it eventually slowed down. 

During winter break, the Leafs went 1-7, but the team culture remains unbreakable. Head coach Stephanie Miller described the team as feeling “frustrated but hopeful.”

“I am so proud of this group for the way they are being resilient during a difficult time,” said Miller. “This group is doing a really good job of just understanding that it’s not fun sometimes … sometimes [losing] is what you need to grow.”

The team is very young, consisting of three freshmen, seven sophomores, two juniors, four seniors and one fifth-year. Despite their talent, Miller suggested that a lack of collegiate experience has contributed to the season’s hardship. 

“There is no replacement for experience on the court, and there is no way around it,” she said.

The Leafs took on Bethel University at home on Saturday. Senior Sa’drea Rougeau led the team with 21 points helped by sophomore Zoe Zellers’s 8 rebounds and junior Sophia Eli’s four assists. The Leafs were down 33-19 at half and outscored Bethel in the second half but fell just short and lost 65-63.

GC’s conference, the Crossroads League, is a very competitive conference, especially in basketball. Miller reflects on a conversation she had with Zion Neat, a junior, who transferred to Goshen this year from the Appalachian Athletic Conference. Miller said that the AAC “is not nearly as strong as ours,” and that Neat “was surprised how the bottom teams can beat the top [teams]” in the Crossroads League. 

Of the 10 teams in the conference, two are nationally ranked in the top 10, with one more receiving votes in the coaches’ poll. 

Miller said, “Honestly, it is the greatest part of being [in] the Crossroads League… you have no days off, no easy games, no easy practices, but it disciplines you.” 

Last Wednesday, the women’s team took on number seven, Indiana Wesleyan University, at home. 

The scoreline remained completely even until the fourth quarter, when the Leafs were outscored 20-8 and lost 55-43. Neat led the team with 21 points and sophomore Syanne Mohamed had eight rebounds.

Miller says, “It’s different when you are frustrated without hope…if you ask all the girls in the locker room they know we are definitely better than our record indicates.” 

On Saturday, the Leafs play Marian University at home at 1:00 p.m. After that, there are five games left until the Crossroads League Tournament, three of which are at home.