Freeland, Mich. - The Alma College women's lacrosse team is picked to finish seventh in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association this season according to the conference's preseason coaches poll, which was released on Thursday (Feb. 7).
The Scots finished last year seventh in the league, as well, ahead of Adrian and Olivet, the two teams it picked up conference wins over. Calvin, last year's conference champion, is slated to finish first in the league this year having received seven of nine first-place votes. Hope, Saint Mary's and Albion round out the top-four.
Alma graduated five seniors from last years team and will return nine players, including junior midfielder Olivia Benoit (Grosse Pointe, Mich. / Grosse Pointe North) and junior goalie Allie Ray (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y. / Comsewogue). The Scots also see the return of senior Tori Basso (Lake Orion, Mich. / Lake Orion), who played as a freshman and sophomore.
Benoit is the team's leading returning scorer with 32 points (25 goals, seven assists). She is 11th on the program's all-time list in both goals (39) and points (47). Ray, an All-MIAA Second-Team player, led the conference in save percentage (52.9 percent) and finished second in saves (193) last season. She owns the single-season program record for saves and saves per game (14.85) and also has the highest career save percentage of any goalie in Alma College history (52.4 percent).
Newcomers to the team are Kennedy Hilley (Lake Odessa, Mich. / Lakewood), who has also played on Alma's softball and women's golf teams, Maddie Hibbs (Dexter, Mich. / Dexter), Madison Chapin (Midland, Mich. / Bullock Creek), Haley Willman (Hemlock, Mich. / Breckenridge), Ellen Laurenz (Breckenridge, Mich. / Breckenridge), Hannah Loftis (Independence, Ky. / Scott), Kalyn Thompson (Jackson, Mich. / Hanover Horton), Ashley Holman (Brighton, Mich. / Brighton) and Gabi Solis (Saline, Mich. / Saline).
Alma starts its season on Friday, Feb. 22 at Earlham College (IN). Its first home game is Thursday, Feb. 28 against Waynesburg University (PA). The conference season begins on Wednesday, March 27 at home against Adrian; that is the second game of a three-game homestand, the Scots' longest of the season. Alma ends the regular season in April with road trips to Trine, Hope and Olivet.
MIAA Preseason Cocahes Poll
1. Calvin - 63 points (7 1st-place)
2. Hope - 52 points (1 1st place)
3. Saint Mary's - 49 points (1 1st place)
4. Albion - 47 points
5. Kalamazoo - 37 points
6. Trine - 27 points
7. Alma - 21 points
8. Adrian - 20 points
9. Olivet - 8 points