Coming off its second straight America East championship last season, the University of Maine women’s basketball has announced the addition two players for the 2019-2020 season.
Anna Kahelin, a 5-foot-11 guard from Helsinki, Finland, and Abbe Laurence, a 6-foot-2 forward from Greenland, New Hampshire, have signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball for the Black Bears.
Kahelin played on Finland’s U15, U16 and U18 National Teams, and also competed with the Finnish Women’s National Team. Kahelin helped guide her U19 team, the Helmi Capitals, to back-to-back national championships in 2016 and 2017.
During the last two seasons, Kahelin competed for Helsinki Basketball Academy Marsky, helping the team make its first ever playoff appearance. This summer, Kahelin plans to compete for the Finland’s U20 National Team.
“Anna is a strong guard who brings international playing experience to UMaine,” head coach Amy Vachon said. “Anna is a versatile player, as she can shoot the three and can guard a variety of positions. Anna is very strong academically and we know she will fit right in with our team.”
Laurence, whose verbal commitment was announced previously, played at Portsmouth High School and competed for the New England Crusaders AAU program, in addition to doing a one-year stint with Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. She was a four-year starter at Portsmouth, where she averaged 10.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots a game during her career.
Laurence finished with 906 career points, 849 rebounds and 230 blocks. She helped guide Portsmouth to the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Division I Final Four last winter.
“Abbe is a strong, agile 6-2 post player whose best basketball playing days are in front of her,” Vachon said. “Abbe is very athletic and has a very strong post-up game. Her basketball IQ is high and she is as hard a worker as you will find. Abbe will be a great addition to our team and we are excited for her to join us.”
Kahelin becomes the second player from Finland to play for the Black Bears, joining former standout Sophie Weckstrom (2012-2016). UMaine’s last player from New Hampshire was forward Danielle Walczak (2011-2013).
Laurence and Kahelin will help replace UMaine’s graduating seniors, Tanesha Sutton and Parise Rossignol of Van Buren. The Black Bears return three starters in Blanca Millan, Dor Saar and Fanny Wadling.
Leading scorer Millan was the America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Saar was a third-team all-conference choice, and Wadling was UMaine’s leading rebounder.
The participation of Kahelin and Laurence at UMaine is dependent on their acceptance by the school and compliance with NCAA eligibility rules.