Yale women’s basketball will open its season this Friday against Holy Cross after being ranked third in the Ivy League preseason poll.

The Bulldogs return almost all of last year’s squad, which finished third in the Ivies behind Princeton and Harvard. The three-time defending champion Tigers tops this year’s rankings, followed by the Crimson and the Elis.

“Our goal for this season is to win the Ivy League,” Graf said. “We want to get better every game and be playing our best basketball when Ivies start.”

The Elis will bring back their top offensive weapon in Megan Vasquez ’13, a first-team All-Ivy selection from 2011-’12. Vasquez led the team in points per game with 15.3 last year, good for fourth in the Ivy League.

The guard also reached another milestone last year when she scored her 1,000th career point in a 25-point performance against Cornell. Vasquez is currently the all-time third-leading scorer for the Elis.

Yale also returns 2011-’12 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Sarah Halejian ’15. In addition to the end-of-year award, the Bulldog point guard earned Ivy Rookie of the Week honors six times last season.

Along with Vasquez and Halejian, the Elis return starting forward Janna Graf ’14 and six other letter winners, including captain Allie Messimer ’13, who appeared in all 28 games last season.

Vasquez and Graf both prepared for the coming season by playing internationally this summer. Vasquez competed with the Puerto Rican junior national team and Graf with the U-20 German national team, which earned a second-place finish at the European Junior National Championships.

“One of the most exciting things about our team this year is the improvement of every returning player,” head coach Chris Gobrecht said. “Every one of them has moved their game to a higher level.”

The team has added four freshmen to its roster while losing only former captain Michelle Cahsen ’12 to graduation. Graf and Vasquez both said that they expect center Emmy Allen ’16, forward Meredith Boardman ’16 and guards Nyasha Sarju ’16 and Whitney Wycoffto ’16 to make a big impact from the start and to add a lot of depth and versatility to the team.

After finishing with a 16–12 overall record and an 8–6 conference record last season, Yale will look to fight for an Ivy League championship this year. The Bulldogs were in the title hunt for much of last season, but dropped four of their five final Ivy League contests to slip out of contention and finish in third place.

Yale took on Holy Cross in its season opener last year as well and came away with a 76–71 win behind a 23-point performance by Vasquez and an additional 15 points from Graf.

“We are looking forward to working on everything that encompasses Bulldog basketball on Friday against Holy Cross,” Vasquez said. “We have a few new plays and have been working on our defense, so I’m excited to see how it will all pan out on Friday.”

Friday’s game will begin at 7 p.m at Holy Cross.