University of New England freshman Abby Cavallaro drives to the basket during the Nor’easters’ season opener on Monday. (Sienna Barstow photo)

BIDDEFORD — Most college freshmen athletes don’t see much action in their first season at the next level, but there are always exceptions to that rule.

South Portland native Abby Cavallaro has earned a chance to play right away at the college level as she opened her University of New England basketball career Monday, Nov. 12.
Cavallaro played for 13 minutes in the UNE women’s basketball season opener. During her time on the court, the former Cheverus standout produced seven points, three rebounds and three steals as the Nor’easters earned the victory.
“It was our first time to see how we were going to be as a team. Our first competitive game. I think we came out pretty well. We started really well and did a really good job of keeping the momentum up. We didn’t let them even get a chance to come back to the game. I think our energy was really good too. I’m really excited for the season,” Cavallaro said.
The adjustment from high school sports to college sports has been easy for Cavallaro because of UNE head coach Anthony Ewing and her new teammates.
“It’s been really great so far. I feel like coach has done a good job of making me feel comfortable. He’s given me the best environment to succeed. Also, my teammates have been so great. They’ve been so supportive. I sprained my ankle twice in the beginning of the season and they had my back. They supported me and got me back into it,” Cavallaro said.
Cavallaro has adjusted well but she is still getting used to the pace – both mentally and physically – of college sports.
“The biggest difference (between high school and college basketball) is speed. It’s quicker. You don’t have time to sit there and hang your head over something you did wrong because by the time you get back into it, they’re already on the other side of the court scoring,” Cavallaro said. “It’s more mental. You can’t have times where you check out. You have to constantly be in it, constantly going, constantly knowing the next play. Knowing who you’re guarding and what they’re going to do next. It’s a lot more mental focus then high school.”
Cavallaro believes she has adapted well because of her experience at Cheverus.
“Cheverus is all about being mentally prepared for everything. It would just mentally get me prepared to keep going even if it’s not the right time, just keep going,” said Cavallaro. “My (basketball) coach senior year was Gary Fifield, he used to be the coach at (Unviersity of Southern Maine). He really got me in the college mindset. He would hold me accountable to what he would hold his players at USM. He would consistently be there making sure that I knew what I was getting myself into. He made sure that I would know that it would be quicker.”
Becoming a Nor’easter was an easy choice for Cavallaro.
“I know that I’m not going to be playing basketball for forever. There’s a really good nursing program here and that’s what I want to do in the long run. As soon as I met with coach Ewing, I just knew that this was where I wanted to be. He’s the coach that I wanted to play for,” said Cavallaro. “I figured UNE had the best of both worlds.”
Cavallaro is thrilled to be a part of the UNE women’s basketball program and has high hopes for her first season.
“I hope that I can impact the team positively. Whether I start or if I don’t start. If I’m caught on the bench giving a lot of energy. Scoring points, getting steals, getting stops because I know defense is the most important thing for coach. I hope that we can win another CCC championship, that would be the goal,” said Cavallaro. “I also want to show the alumni that basketball isn’t done winning. We still have so much more left in us. We have a good group of freshmen coming in this year that can keep up the legacy of the program.”

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