MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Northern Michigan University Lacrosse has been picked sixth in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Preseason Poll. The GLIAC consists of nine teams this season with NMU ahead of Maryville University, Lewis University and Ashland University.
The Wildcats enter their third year this season and come into the year after picking up their first-ever GLIAC victory with a 17-16 win over Davenport University. The team also earned their first-ever All-GLIAC honor as junior Graison Ringlever (Mattawan, Mich.) was named Honorable Mention All-GLIAC after finishing second on the team with 37 goals and tied for the team's lead in assists with seven. She also tallied team-bests with 29 ground balls and 84 draw controls along with a team-high 59 shots on goal.
Joining Ringlever as midfielders will be sophomore Bianca Kinder (Haslett, Mich.) and freshman Jessica Daniels (Brighton, Mich.). Kinder returns to the team after finishing second with 40 draw controls and notching 14 ground balls in her rookie season last year. She also added 12 goals and six assists to her totals to aid the team's offense. Daniels come to the team after a standout career at Brighton High School where she was a four-year starter and earned Honorable Mention All-State three times. Her team reached the State Finals last year as well. Sophomore Hannah Seaman (Clarkston, Mich.) will provide solid depth after earning 13 appearances last year. Senior Megan Palacio (Cumberland, R.I.) is a captain this season and could also see time in the midfield after securing 15 ground balls last year. Freshman Katie Zarembski (Algonquin, Ill.) adds depth after earning four varsity letters at Huntley High School.
The team's offense will look to sophomore returners Ellie Bahr (Crystal, Minn.) and Tess Kostelec (Columbia, Md.) to lead the team after making large strides last season. The 2018 squad scored more goals and more than doubled the number of assists over the 2017 inauguaral season. Bahr finished with 21 goals and two assists while Kostelec added 16 goals and seven assists. The pair will be joined by a crop of freshman who will be expected to add firepower to the offense. Freshman Aleya Speas (Castle Rock, Colo.) was named her team's Most Valuable Player while earning First-Team All Around last year. Freshman Emily Renfrew (Okemos, Mich.) was named First Team All-State and a US Lacrosse High School All-American during her senior season at Okemos High School.
Adding to the team's depth up front will be junior Angelica Bogden (Clarkston, Mich.), sophomore Jordan Hanner (South Lyon, Mich.), sophomore Casey Heintzelman (Hudsonville, Mich.) and freshmen Emma Brotemarkle (Elk River, Minn.) and Marina Wilson (Avon Lake, Ohio). Bogden returns after making 15 starts and posting seven goals in 2018 while Hanner comes into the year after missing last season due to injury. Heintzelman scored two goals while making 11 starts during her debut season. Brotemarkle and Wilson eye making an impact during their first season with the Wildcats. Palacio could also see time up front for NMU.
The Wildcats will fuse a young crop of defenders to an experienced group. Senior Tori Aidif (Grandville, Mich.) is a team captain and returns with 27 games of experience. Sophomore Shannon Walus (Brighton, Mich.) also returns and finished second on the team with 24 ground balls and caused a team-best 10 turnovers. Sophomore Nicole Smith (Green Bay, Wis.) returns to the team after making six starts with 11 ground balls in an injury plagued season. Sophomore Hannah Jackson (Brighton, Mich.) will look to build on the experience she gained last year after appearing in five games. Senior Casey Marshall (Appleton, Wis.) made 11 appearances last season and has 17 ground balls in her career and is moving to the defense after playing up front last season.
Joining the back line this year will be freshman Jessica Close (Stafford, Va.), Steffi Suhon (Ham Lake, Minn.) and Ava Engler (Ham Lake, Minn.). Close was named a team captain as a freshman for this coming season after First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and Second Team All-State honors at Colonial Forge High School. Suhon and Engler teamed on the defense for Blaine High School and helped the team to three-straight state tournament appearances.
In goal, the team features freshman Cam Stilson (Brighton, Mich.). A good athlete with a positive attitude, Stilson was named First Team All-State two times and helped guide her team to a state final, an MHSAA Regional Championship and three KLAA Conference Championships. Jackson could also see time in net for the Wildcats this season.
In the coaches poll, NMU trails preseason favorite University of Indianapolis, who received eight first place votes and open the season ranked 12th. In second place is Grand Valley State University. The Lakers received one first place vote and are ranked 17th to open the year. McKendree University is third in the preseason poll and ranked 24th nationally. Concordia University, St. Paul is fourth in the GLIAC with Davenport Unversity fifth and NMU sixth. Maryville, Lewis and Ashland round out the poll.
This year's team begins their season on Saturday, February 23 against Albion College. They then host #4 Lindenwood University on Sunday, March 3. The Wildcats open GLIAC play by hosting Davnport University on Friday, March 15.