For The Master’s University women’s basketball team, every game is a seed planted.
The team developed the metaphor during a team retreat at the start of the year and the hope is that the seeds will blossom into a national championship.
“We have our sights set on a national championship and we know we’re capable of achieving that,” said point guard Sabrina Thompson. “But really we’re just taking it one game at a time and each game is kind of a stepping stone for us.”
Last season, the Mustangs lost in the Golden State Athletic Conference semifinals, then earned a bid to the NAIA National Tournament, but fell in the first round to Freed-Hardeman University of Tennessee.
Although the majority of that roster is returning this season, Thompson said the team looks brand-new due to the work put in in the offseason.
“Some of my teammates came back, like, different players,” she said.
The result has been a 2-1 start to the season, with the only loss coming in the form of a 62-59 result against No. 18 University of Providence.
Hannah Forrar currently leads the team with 12.7 points per game. Following her is freshman Stephanie Soares, who is nearly averaging a double-double with 11.3 ppg and eight rebounds per game. She also has a total of 22 blocks.
“She’s super unselfish,” said coach Dan Waldeck. “She’s an excellent player, she’s a high, high level player … Defensively takes it hard to the rim, offensively she draws a lot of attention.”
Soares joins her sister, center Jessica Soares at Master’s and although having a sibling on the team has made the transition to college ball fairly easy, Soares was enthralled at her first team practice.
“They’re really competitive. That’s what I first thought,” Soares said.
The Mustangs have multiple looks on offense and defense, outscoring opponents 199-191 so far this season with a field goal percentage of .411.
Forrar and Soares are at the top in terms of scoring, but Thompson (9.3 ppg), Anika Neuman (seven ppg) and Rebekah Throns (seven ppg, four rpg) are also seeing production. Brooke Bailey isn’t far behind at 6.7 ppg.
“We’re probably our best in a three-quarter speed when we’re not just run-and-gun,” Waldeck said. “Defensively I think we’re becoming much more physical and aggressive than we’ve been in past years which is good for us and utilizing our depth as much possible.”
TMU, which was ranked No. 14 in the NAIA Division 1 preseason coaches’ poll, opens up GSAC play on Nov. 29 against Ottawa University Arizona. The Mustangs play No. 22 Arizona Christian on Dec. 1, but no matter the opponent, there will be a seed sown.
“(We’re) a team that doesn’t quit and doesn’t stop,” Soares said. “There are a couple of games where we were down and we just kept fighting and kept relying on one another and that’s that.”