Rosemont, Ill. - Maryland was the unanimous choice by the conference coaches as the preseason favorite to claim their third-consecutive Big Ten championship in 2017. The Terrapins were followed in the preseason poll by Penn State in second and Northwestern in third, while the Big Ten's newest member, Johns Hopkins, made its debut as the fourth-ranked team. Ohio State, Rutgers and Michigan rounded out the poll. The coaches voted in the preseason poll and selected three players from their own team to a preseason honors list.
Maryland claimed its second Big Ten title and earned a berth in the national championship game a season ago, and is ranked No. 2 in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. The Terrapins' preseason honorees are attacker Megan Whittle, midfielder Zoe Stukenberg and defender Nadine Hadnagy, each of whom were unanimous selections to the 2016 All-Big Ten team, and Whittle took home Attack Player of the Year honors, too. Stukenberg and Whittle were also named Academic All-Big Ten.
Penn State reached the NCAA final four last season for the first time in 17 seasons and the Nittany Lions are ranked No. 7 in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. Attacker/midfielder Madison Carter, attacker Steph Lazo and midfielder Abby Smucker received preseason honors for the Nittany Lions. All three students are returning All-Big Ten honorees from last season, while Lazo and Smucker were also included on the Academic All-Big Ten list.
Northwestern was picked to finish third after advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th consecutive season in 2016, and enters the season ranked No. 9 in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll. Junior midfielder Selena Lasota returns following All-Big Ten accolades last season, and she is joined on the preseason honors list by Academic All-Big Ten honoree and midfielder Sheila Nesselbush, along with attacker Christina Esposito.
Johns Hopkins makes its Big Ten debut as a sport affiliate member, and earned a spot at No. 4 on the preseason coaches' poll. The Blue Jays, who are also ranked No. 15 in the Lacrosse Magazine preseason poll, enter their inaugural conference season led by goaltender Caroline Federico, attacker Emily Kenul and midfielder Haley Schweizer, each of whom were named to the preseason honors list.
Ohio State was selected to finish fifth in the conference by the coaches, and will be led this season by attacker Molly Wood, and defenders Shannon Rosati and Christina Turner. Both Rosati and Turner were named to the All-Big Ten team in 2016, while Turner and Wood had their names included on the Academic All-Big Ten list.
Rutgers enters the season as the sixth-ranked team in the preseason poll, and will be guided by a trio of preseason honorees in defender Amanda Casten, midfielder Kristina Dunphey and attacker Amanda Turturro. Casten ended 2016 as a member of both the Academic All-Big Ten and All-Big Ten teams, while Dunphey was also recognized on the All-Big Ten list.
Michigan will begin the season with a seventh-place ranking in the poll. Veteran leadership will help bolster the Wolverines' roster this season, with seniors Kim Coughlan (midfield/attack), Madeline Dion (midfield) and Anna Schueler (midfield) named to the preseason honors list. Both Coughlan and Dion earned All-Big Ten recognition last season, while Schueler was tabbed Academic All-Big Ten.
Big Ten women's lacrosse features teams that have won 25 national championships and 21 of the 35 NCAA Championships, including 10 of the last 12. Maryland claimed seven straight titles from 1995 to 2001, while 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 2017 Big Ten Women's Lacrosse Tournament will be hosted by Maryland from May 5-7. The tournament moves to a four-team field for the first time in 2017, with two semifinals on Friday and the tournament final on Sunday.
The preseason poll and complete Players to Watch list can be found below.
2017 BIG TEN WOMEN'S LACROSSE PRESEASON POLL
- Penn State
- Johns Hopkins
- Ohio State
Unanimous selection in ALL CAPS
Women's Lacrosse Preseason Honors List
Caroline Federico, Sr., G, Johns Hopkins
Emily Kenul, Jr., A, Johns Hopkins
Haley Schweizer, Sr., M, Johns Hopkins
Nadine Hadnagy, Sr., D, Maryland
Zoe Stukenburg, Sr., M, Maryland
Megan Whittle, Jr., A, Maryland
Kim Coughlan, Sr., M/A, Michigan
Madeline Dion, Sr., M, Michigan
Anna Schueler, Sr., M, Michigan
Christina Esposito, Sr., A, Northwestern
Selena Lasota, Jr., M, Northwestern
Sheila Nesselbush, Jr., M, Northwestern
Shannon Rosati, Jr., D, Ohio State
Christina Turner, Sr., D, Ohio State
Molly Wood, Jr., A, Ohio State
Madison Carter, Soph., A/M, Penn State
Steph Lazo, Sr., A, Penn State
Abby Smucker, Sr., M, Penn State
Amanda Casten, Jr., D, Rutgers
Kristina Dunphey, Sr., M, Rutgers
Amanda Turturro, Sr., A, Rutgers