FREELAND, Mich. – In a preseason poll of Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association women’s soccer coaches, the Hope Dutch were predicted to emerge as the MIAA champions for 2016.
Hope received six first-place votes to surpass second-place pick Kalamazoo and third-place selection Calvin; both the Hornets (1) and Knights (2) also gathered first-place votes from their MIAA peers. Albion edged Alma for the fourth-place spot by two points, and Adrian nosed out Olivet by one point for sixth place in the nine-team poll. Saint Mary’s and Trine tied for eighth.
The preseason poll for MIAA women's soccer awards one point for a first-place vote, two points for a second-place vote, et cetera; coaches were not allowed to vote for their own programs.
Hope (16-3-3, 12-1-3 in 2015) returns a quartet of all-MIAA performers from 2015, including first-team all-conference honoree Erin Brophy (Jr., M/F, West Lafayette, Ind.). Brophy, who was also a third-team all-region selection, will be aided in the attack by second-team all-region performer Rylie Dalton (So., M, Rockford, Mich.). Second-team all-MIAA picks Rachael Braginton (So., F, Grandville, Mich.) and Elizabeth Perkins (Sr., F, Eaton Rapids, Mich.) will also provide offensive punch for the Dutch.
Kalamazoo (9-9-2, 9-5-2) finished the 2015 regular season unbeaten in their final three games to solidify their finish third in the standings. Key players return for the Hornets at multiple positions, including third-team all-region selection Allie Brodsky (Sr., D, West Bloomfield, Mich.). Brodsky was also a first-team all-MIAA performer along with teammate Madison Moote (Jr., F, Rochester Hills, Mich.). The Hornets also return Grace Smith (Sr., GK, Portage, Mich.) and Christina Dandar (Jr., D, Harrison Twp., Mich.), both second-team all-MIAA honorees in 2015.
Calvin (21-3-2, 14-0-2) won both the 2015 MIAA regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Knights were ranked 11th nationally in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll, and will look to Carly Veenstra (Sr., F, North Haledon, N.J.) for leadership after the forward finished the 2015 season ranked third on the team in scoring with eight goals and five assists.
Albion (8-10-1, 6-9-1) will lean on the offensive prowess of a pair of first-team all-MIAA selections to aid in the Britons’ efforts this fall. Domenique Sarnecky (Sr., F, Canton, Mich.) and Jenna Urso (Jr., F/M, South Lyon, Mich.) combined to score 16 goals last season, including seven of the team’s eight game-winning goals in 2015.
Alma (9-8-1, 8-7-1) was on the outside looking in last season for the MIAA Tournament, finishing in fifth place by two points. Macayla Greiner (Sr., M, Hart, Mich.) earned third-team all-region honors last fall and will be a key factor for the Scots in 2016.
Adrian (5-9-6, 3-9-4) garnered 42 points in the poll, edging Olivet’s (11-6-3, 8-5-3) 43 points for sixth place; Saint Mary’s (2-15-1, 2-13-1) and Trine (2-15-1, 1-14-1) tied for eighth with 60 points.
The 2016 MIAA women's soccer campaign is set to start Thursday, Sept. 1 with five non-conference matches, with Adrian, Olivet, and Trine starting at home. MIAA action begins with a bang Tuesday, Sept. 6 with the top two preseason picks taking the pitch when Hope travels to Kalamazoo for a 7 p.m. contest.
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