TOWSON, Md., -- The Goucher College field hockey team was chosen to finish fourth in the Landmark Conference preseason poll, voted on by the head coaches of the league.
Goucher's fourth-place designation in the preseason poll is the highest ranking it has received since joining the Landmark Conference in 2007. The Gophers finished fourth in the Landmark Conference in 2016 after being ranked sixth in the preseason poll.
"It is nice to see that other teams in the conference are taking our program seriously and seeing us as the threat that we are," added sixth-year head coach Megan Williams.
In 2016, Goucher went 8-9 overall and 3-4 in Landmark Conference play, defeating Drew 3-1 in the regular season finale for the final bid in the conference tournament. In the Landmark Conference semifinal the Gophers took a heartbreaking loss to the eventual champion, Elizabethtown, 2-1. The Blue Jays advanced to the final after scoring with time expired on a penalty corner.
However, with a new year and a strong returning core, the Gophers look to make a run for the Landmark Conference playoffs again. Due to their efforts, they have earned the respect of the coaches in the league, placing them just behind Elizabethtown, Catholic and Susquehanna – respectively.
Goucher returns four of the top five goal-scorers from 2016 including Maya Belin (6), Jackie Juarez (5), Kristen Shklanko (4) and Valerie Mendoza (3). The defense also boasts plenty of key returners in Sarah Shklanko, Emily Jewell and Sam Klock. Senior Liz Zengel also comes back, maintaining the lion-share of minutes in the cage for the Gophers, accumulating a team-high 70 saves and eight wins.
"This preseason has been short but very successful," illustrated Williams. "We have talent in every class and athletes who compete every day."
Williams was named the Landmark Coach of the Year in 2016, joining Rachel Crain, Lizzie Barminski and Sarah Shklanko on the All-Landmark team.
The Gophers open their season on Friday, September 1 at 7 p.m. on Beldon Field against St. Mary's (Md.).