* = Projected NCAA Tournament Team
*1. Illinois State – 43
2. Loyola (Ill.) – 24
3. Evansville – 22
4. Missouri State – 19
5. Indiana State – 16
6. Drake – 15
7. Northern Iowa – 10
As is usually the case in the MVC, everyone’ll likely be looking up at ISU when all is said and done, as the conference bully looks to again have the best squad in the league by a mile. The Redbirds are going to likely drown opponents in goals with Rachel Tejada and Hannah Leinert to supply the firepower. It remains to be seen if the defense can stand up against tougher non-conference opposition, but that’s of little worry in the league. The Redbirds have already taken a big scalp in the NCAA Tournament last season and could very well match that this year.
Of the best of the rest, Loyola (Ill.) figures to stay in the upper half of the table. Getting nine starters back should help considering some of the other losses around the league, and the club returns a fair amount of strength in depth, though losing last year’s best player, Tricia Stonebraker, hurts. Evansville are largely in the same boat, losing their top player in Stephanie Thompson but returning almost everyone else. They should be able to improve on last season’s fifth place finish with ease.
Missouri State doesn’t have as much strength in depth as the above but does return the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in Kelsey Fouch. Indiana State are likely on the road down given the loss of star midfielder Abby Reed and top defender Shelby Troyer. Drake may struggle to make an impact after a wretched 3-12-5 season losing a league high five starters, including excellent defender Megan Fisher. Northern Iowa are favorite for the bottom of the league again with a shortage in top talent at this level and lost their best player from last year in defender Sam Copley.