Alma, Mich. - The Alma College women's soccer team is picked to finish ninth in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association this season, according to the preseason coaches' poll released on Tuesday (August 20).
"We don't pay too much mind to preseason rankings," said Head Coach Meghan Gorsuch. "It doesn't matter where you start, only where you finish."
Hope and Adrian stand atop the list; they faced off against each other in the MIAA Championship last year with Adrian winning the title. Both teams also earned a spot in the 2018 NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Championship. Calvin and Albion are third and fourth, respectively, separated by only two points. Kalamazoo is fifth with 34 points, and Olivet and Trine follow close behind.
Gorsuch is in her second year at the helm of the program and her team is also quite young. Only nine players on the team are upperclassmen, while 10 are sophomores and 12 are freshmen. With such a young group, Gorsuch is looking for "week-to-week improvement and how this young group grows together."
The Scots return three of their top five point-getters from last season, as well as their starting goalkeeper. Junior Ally Wentworth (Mt. Pleasant, Mich. / Mt. Pleasant) played every minute in net last season, saving 76-percent of shots she faced on the year, good for 99 overall. Sophomore Meghan Pfile (South Lyon, Mich. / South Lyon) comes back as the team's leading goal-scorer; she scored twice in her freshman year. Also returning is sophomore Ashley Oldham (Gilbert, Ariz. / Chandler Basha) and junior Tori Aquilino (Plymouth, Mich. / Canton), who each scored a goal apiece. Oldham was one of five players to start all 16 games in 2018 and the only freshman to do so.
Alma begins its season on Friday, Aug. 30 as it hosts Coe College (IA) at 1:00 p.m. at Scotland Yard; it is the first of five consecutive home matches for the Scots. In all, Alma plays 10 matches at home and only seven on the road this year.
Alma's first nine opponents are from out-of-conference. Of those teams, only two finished 2018 with a winning record: Mount St. Joseph University (OH) and Anderson University (IN).
The Scots begin MIAA play on Tuesday, Oct. 1 when they travel to Trine University (IN). They return home to face defending conference champion Adrian College on Saturday, Oct. 5. Following a road trip to Albion, the Scots host Saint Mary's College (IN), Olivet College and Calvin University during a three-game homestand. It ends the regular season at Kalamazoo and at defending regular-season champion Hope College on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
1. Hope - 62 points (6 1st-place votes)
2. Adrian - 59 points (3 1st-place votes)
3. Calvin - 47 points
4. Albion - 45 points
5. Kalamazoo - 34 points
6. Olivet - 27 points
7. Trine - 21 points
8. Saint Mary's - 18 points
9. Alma - 11 points