The Hope College women's lacrosse team is coming off its most successful season but is hardly satisfied.
Head coach Kim Vincent sees a similar drive that has propelled the Flying Dutch recently, including a school record for wins last season and the first appearance in a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament championship match.
"Our 9-7 record was the best we've done, and we want to improve on that," said Vincent, who's in her fourth season as head coach. "This team continues to crave year after year being at their best. They bring joy to the pursuit of that. They're working hard."
Hope opens the 2018 season on Friday with a nonleague match against NAIA Cleary, Michigan in Brighton.
The Flying Dutch — who tied for second in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll — have a roster of 19 players that includes 11 freshmen.
Three co-captains lead Hope: senior attack Erin Caton of Rochester Hills, Michigan (Pontiac Notre Dame Prep), senior attack Emily Deane of Rochester Hills, Michigan (Adams), and junior midfielder Allison Darnell of Farmington Hills, Michigan (North Farmington).
There are three seniors total on the Flying Dutch roster, two juniors, and three sophomores.
"We have a very young team," Vincent said. "We have some strong leadership this year. They bring a lot of experience to the team."
Caton and Deane received All-MIAA Second Team honors as juniors. They are Hope's top returning scorers.
Deane finished third on the team with 25 goals in 13 games. She also had five assists and was fourth in scoring with 30 points.
Caton recorded 16 assists in 16 games — second-most among Flying Dutch players last season — and totaled 20 goals for 36 points.
Darnell also played all 16 games last season. She collected 12 goals and five assists.
"They've played their entire career at Hope College, so they know how things are done," Vincent said of her captains. "They bring this incredible composure on the field, off the field. They've helped our very large freshman class sort of navigate their way through learning new systems on the field. This fall our freshmen really got good introductions to the team and to what kind of competition they're looking at going up against."
The Flying Dutch have a 15-game schedule. Their home opener is Tuesday, March 6 against Illinois Tech at Van Andel Soccer Stadium.
Hope's MIAA opener is Tuesday, April 3 at Kalamazoo.
"We've got a really good preseason schedule that's going to challenge us a little," Vincent said. "We have some pretty tough games."