For the College of Staten Island Women’s Basketball Team, the 2022-2023 season marks the first season of playoff eligibility as an NCAA Division II program.  With just one game remaining on their schedule, the Dolphins hold the sixth and final playoff spot in the East Coast Conference ahead of Saturday’s Senior Day finale against Roberts Wesleyan.  To celebrate NCAA Division II Day, sophomore Liz Lofaro and Head Coach Nicole Sarcone shared a look at their journey as a part of a Division II program and gave some insight into the culture that defines the Women’s Basketball program off the court.

Nicole Sarcone took over as Dolphins head coach in the 2018-2019 season, one year before the move to Division II. 

First and foremost, the CSI Head Coach cites the bond that the team shares as an important factor that has gotten them to this point.  “We have a good group of individuals,” said Sarcone. “I think many of them being in the dorms has helped them form positive relationships with one another.  The constant presence of our student-athletes on campus is something we didn’t have in years prior, so we’re happy to have them in the dorms.” 

“We’re definitely really close,” agreed Lofaro. “Everyone’s really involved and everyone’s really close with each other. Spending all the time we’ve spent with one another and going through this process together has all made us even closer.”

The constant support from everyone in the Athletics Department has meant a lot to the team as well.  “It’s like a family here. It’s a very close-knit community,” said Lofaro. “That’s one of the reasons I chose to go here.”  “Everyone’s genuine,” added Sarcone. “We have a great culture here.  It’s a small familial culture, and that’s something you don’t find in every Athletics Department.”

The bond between the CSI players is one that they have shared with the local community.

The move to Division II has come with the necessity for a greater commitment to basketball, but Lofaro has found team activities and the campus support system to be a big help in managing the balance between basketball and academics.  “Compared to Division III and Division I, Division II is a great way to balance your family, your school, and basketball,” said Lofaro. “We do study halls as a group, and who you’re surrounded by and your support system are both very important motivators.”

Division II also brings a higher level of competition, especially with the Dolphins possibly competing in the playoffs in their first year of eligibility.  “The biggest difference is the level of commitment and passion you have to have,” said Sarcone. “We’ve battled for every win we have. You have to have that passion and energy every day because nothing is easy.” 

“I think we’ve proven ourselves in the conference,” said Lofaro. “We compete and we want to win. We make sure teams are forced to play their best basketball against us.”

Lofaro and the Dolphins are on the verge of clinching the first Division II postseason berth in program history.

With the final game of the regular season approaching, the Dolphins are hard at work trying to maintain their playoff spot and secure a place in the upcoming postseason.  “With there being less games, we have more time to hone in on film,” said Sarcone. “At the end of the day, it really comes down to finding a way to dig out a win when the stakes of the games are securing a playoff spot. You have to want it more than the other team.”

The Dolphins will host Roberts Wesleyan University in their regular season finale on Saturday.  Admission for all spectators is free, and be sure to arrive early for our Senior Day ceremony which is scheduled to begin approximately five minutes before the 1 PM tip-off.

By: Lauren Wilson, Athletics Communications