New coach brings new expectations for girls team

By: Rich Fisher
   When an 0-21 team loses one of the best players in program history, it might not bode well for the following year.
   But Monroe High girls’ basketball coach Leigh Vogtman is not about to deal with negatives in her first season, which officially begins tonight at Colonia. In fact, Vogtman feels the graduation of Ali Baumlin, the school’s all-time leading scorer, might just open things up for some other players.
   "The past two years when Ali was here, a lot of the games centered around getting the ball to big girl," said Vogtman, who coached Applegarth the previous two seasons. "They have to come out of that shell, and know they can shoot the ball and take the shot. Once they realize that, they’ll do well.
   "I’ve seen sparks of them doing great things, so I know there is potential in them. They just have to know they can do it."
   Leading the returnees are sophomore forward Carly Keane and senior guard Lisa Cosentino. Keane, the team’s tallest player at 5-foot-9, broke on the varsity scene last year by averaging 8.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. Cosentino, a streak shooter who can bomb from the outside, averaged eight points.
   Two girls whose expected contributions got cut short by surgery last year, are junior forward Mai’Lee Paselio and sophomore guard Lindsey Curran. Both are back at full strength this year.
   Other seniors on the roster are guards Ashley Armstrong, Amy Krainski, Sasha Potter and Nicole Jose, a transfer from Union Catholic. Juniors feature guard-forwards Marissa Allamby and Diana Stelmaszczyk, forward Megan Stark and guard Ashley Henriquez. Erika Gulick is a sophomore forward, while freshmen are Sarah Gibbons, Katie Guidi, Andrea Carini and Nicole Manziano. Vogtman feels Gibbons and Guidi could see time this year.
   "Of the girls I mentioned, probably 10 of them will play strictly varsity, and there’s always a chance the others will see time," Vogtman said.
   Although a starting lineup has not been decided, Vogtman has used predominantly a seven-man rotation in scrimmages that feature Jose, Curran, Krainski, Keane, Paselio, Allamby and Cosentino.
   Since the team lacks height, the new coach is hoping to play an up-tempo game this season. She is looking for scrappy defense that could lead to easy buckets on the break. That was the case during some preseason scrimmages, but not others.
   "The first three at home they looked good, the tempo was very upbeat, they were running up and down very well, playing strictly man," Vogtman said. "I haven’t put our zone into a game yet, I’ve been trying to stress man to man and ball-help deny defense, which helps them play a faster paced game.
   "The excitement was there in the home scrimmages. But once we went on the road we lost some of that energy. As far as execution goes, we’ve been running things well. But we have a lot of things to work on. We’re optimistic though. We’re going to win a few games."
   Although Vogtman coached her sophomores and freshmen at Applegarth, she is new to the upperclassmen. But since taking over last May, she guided the team during summer leagues, there have been numerous talks and meetings, and everyone seems familiarized with her expectations.
   As for goals, Vogtman has wisely decided not to go there, considering last year’s winless campaign.
   "I haven’t put up a number (of wins), but we’re basically saying that we’re looking to do better things this year," she said. "We’re only what we believe we’re capable of doing. Before I start throwing out numbers, I have to make sure we’re on the same page, where our confidence needs to be at.
   "It was tough last year, I’m not going to put (expectations) on them right away, but they know we have to work, and whatever we get, will be well earned."