The 2017 Iowa Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll has been released and the Luther College women’s soccer team has been picked to finish third. The Norse, who are the defending regular season co-champions and league tournament champions, picked up two first place votes and tallied 48 points. Loras College was the top pick followed by Wartburg College.
   Luther is coming off one of its best seasons in school history. The Norse finished 6-0-2 in the IIAC and were 13-3-3 overall, qualifying for the NCAA III National Tournament for the first time in school history. In the final National Soccer Coaches Association National Poll Luther was ranked No. 25.
Head Coach Russ Schouweiler (76-49-7) enters his eighth year at the helm of the program. He will need to replace six starters, including four of his top five point producers. Gone up front are four-time all-conference performers Melisse Chasse (95 career points) and Ellie Bunz (81 career points), as well as two-time all-conference selection Lauren Hughes (43 career points). He will also need to replace defenders Erin Danielson and Gabi Meirick, who were named Iowa Conference Defensive MVPs in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Also graduating was two-time all-conference selection Madison Speer.
   Top returning point producers from a year ago include juniors Marta Springer (10 points) and Hannah Christopher (3 points) and sophomore McKenzie Lundquist (4 points). Springer was an honorable mention all-conference honoree last season.
   All-conference goalkeeper Lauren Thormodsgard returns as a fifth year senior. Thormodsgard posted a goals-against-average of 0.75 a year ago that included eight shutouts. Also returning in front of the nets are defenders junior Jesse Buttolph and sophomore Elizabeth DePrenger.