Maryland Voted Preseason Favorite

Jan. 26, 2015

Rosemont, Ill. – With the inaugural season of Big Ten women’s lacrosse set to begin on Jan. 31, Maryland was the unanimous choice by the conference coaches as the preseason favorite to claim the first Big Ten Championship. The coaches voted in the preseason poll and selected three players from their own team to a Players to Watch list. The Terrapins were followed in the preseason poll by Northwestern in second place, Ohio State and Penn State tied for third place, Rutgers in fifth place and Michigan in sixth place.

Maryland captured its 12th national championship last season and is ranked No. 1 in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Preseason Top 20 poll. The Terrapins’ Players to Watch are defender Megan Douty, attacker Brooke Griffin and midfielder Kelly McPartland. All three student-athletes were named first-team preseason All-Americans by Inside Lacrosse. In addition, the Terrapins return reigning Tewaaraton winner and first-team preseason All-American Taylor Cummings. 

Northwestern was picked to finish second after advancing to the NCAA Tournament semifinals for the 10th straight season in 2014. The Wildcats are ranked No. 5 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse preseason poll. Northwestern’s Players to Watch are goalkeeper Bridget Bianco, midfielder Kaleigh Craig and attacker Kara Mupo. Inside Lacrosse named Mupo a second-team preseason All-American, while Bianco claimed third-team preseason All-America honors. 

Ohio State secured its third NCAA Tournament bid last season after winning 13 games, the second-most in school history. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 13 in the Nike/Inside Lacrosse preseason poll. Ohio State’s Players to Watch are attackers Katie Chase and Jackie Cifarelli and goalkeeper Tori DeScenza. DeScenza claimed first-team preseason All-America plaudits, Cifarelli was named a second-team preseason All-American and Chase was chosen as an honorable mention preseason All-American.  

Penn State made its 20th appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 11 in the preseason top 20 poll. Penn State’s Players to Watch are midfielders Tatum Coffey and Madison Cyr and attacker Maggie McCormick. Cyr was named a preseason second-team All-American, while Coffey was an honorable mention selection.

Rutgers won nine games and advanced to its conference tournament last season, securing its first postseason berth since the 2008 campaign. Three midfielders comprise the Scarlet Knights’ Players to Watch list in Kristin Kocher, Lauren Sbrilli and Erin Turkot. Sbrilli and Kocher combined for 62 points last season and are the Scarlet Knights’ top two returning scorers.

Michigan enters its second season as a Division I women’s lacrosse program. The Wolverines won three of their last five games last season, and advanced to their conference tournament. Michigan’s Players to Watch are attacker Jess Angerman and midfielders Kim Coughlan and Anna Schueler. Schueler led the Wolverines with 32 goals last season.

In June 2013, the Big Ten announced the addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse as the conference’s 27th and 28th sports. Big Ten women's lacrosse features teams that have won 24 national championships and 20 of the 33 NCAA Championships, including nine of the last 10. Maryland won its 12th national championship last year, and claimed seven straight from 1995 to 2001. Northwestern has won seven NCAA titles, highlighted by five consecutive from 2005 to 2009 and most recently in 2012. Penn State has earned five national championships, including NCAA titles in 1987 and 1989.

The inaugural Big Ten Women’s Lacrosse Tournament will be hosted by Rutgers from April 30 to May 3. The tournament will include all six conference programs, with two quarterfinal matches on Thursday. The top two seeds will receive byes to Friday’s semifinals, followed by the championship match on Sunday

The preseason poll and complete Players to Watch list can be found below.

(2) Northwestern
(T-3) Ohio State
(T-3) Penn State
(5) Rutgers
(6) Michigan

CAPS denote a unanimous selection

Megan Douty, Sr., D, Maryland
Brooke Griffin, Sr., A, Maryland
Kelly McPartland, Sr., M, Maryland
Jess Angerman, So., A, Michigan
Kim Coughlan, So., M, Michigan
Anna Schueler, So., M, Michigan
Bridget Bianco, Sr., G, Northwestern
Kaleigh Craig, Jr., M, Northwestern
Kara Mupo, Sr., A, Northwestern
Katie Chase, Sr., A, Ohio State
Jackie Cifarelli, Sr., A, Ohio State
Tori DeScenza, Sr., G, Ohio State
Tatum Coffey, Sr., M, Penn State
Madison Cyr, Jr., M, Penn State
Maggie McCormick, Sr., A, Penn State
Kristin Kocher, Jr., M, Rutgers
Lauren Sbrilli, Sr., M, Rutgers
Erin Turkot, Sr., D, Rutgers