Albion College is expected to challenge for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship in women's lacrosse according to a poll of the league coaches released Wednesday afternoon.
Albion received a pair of first place votes and enters the season picked to finish second. The Britons and Hope College tied for second place in the poll, trailing only defending champion Calvin College.
Albion returns nearly everyone from the squad that advanced to the MIAA Tournament after achieving a 4-4 record against league rivals last year. Attacker Cait Gaitley, who produced a team-high 60 goals last season, and defender Taylor Nelson, who caused a team-high 26 turnovers while controlling the draw 36 times and pouncing on 36 groundballs, are two-time all-MIAA first team picks. Midfielder Shannon Kahl, who chipped in with 25 goals and 17 assists last season, joined them on the all-MIAA first team in 2017. Midfielder Lauren Wiegand was listed on the all-MIAA second team last season.
"This team is invested," Head Coach Shanta Loecker said. "They are invested in the learning process. We've talked about a growth mindset and improving day-to-day.
"The expectations are definitely high," she added. "Everyone is dreaming of big things, but right now, we're focused on that learning process and their investment in that has been visible."
The first draw of the season is Feb. 25 when the Britons take on Hanover (Ind.) College at the Detroit Country Day School.
The highlight of the Britons non-league schedule is a spring break trip to California where they will square off against the University of Redlands and Claremont Mudd-Scripps.
Albion will make its campus debut March 17 against Augustana (Ill.) College.
The first MIAA competition is a March 31 home date against Trine University.
The complete MIAA women's lacrosse preseason poll follows with first place votes listed in parenthesis. 1. Calvin (7) 63 points, 2 (tie). Albion (2) and Hope 51 points, 4. Saint Mary's 46 points, 5. Adrian 34 points, 6. Kalamazoo 31 points, 7. Alma 24 points, 8. Trine 16 points, 9. Olivet 8 points.
Follow the Britons on Twitter: @AlnionWLacrosse