The Baltimore Sun's take: Steph Nichols will help anchor the lineup after leading the team with 44 ground balls, along with 20 draw controls and 14 caused turnovers. All-Conference selection Paige Messersmith (Dulaney), a junior midfielder, also is back after starting all 16 games and scoring 24 goals, earning All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Notre Dame of Maryland University

Coach: Melissa Falen (23nd season, 176-162-1)

2011 record: 3-13 overall, 2-6 league

Conference: Colonial States Athletic Conference

The Baltimore Sun's take: Notre Dame will be led by Allison Terry (Catholic), who was named to the All-Conference first team after leading the league with 76 goals in just fourteen games — ninth overall in Division III. She will be supported by Ashley Cumberland (Kenwood), who had 30 goals and three assists, and Kelsey Kempf, who led Division III in caused turnovers.

St. Mary's

Coach: Lisa Valentine (second season, 12-6)

2011 record: 12-6 overall, 5-3 league

Conference: Capital Athletic Conference

The Baltimore Sun's take: Goalie Colleen Simpson (Broadneck) will lead a stout defense after ranking in the top 10 nationally in save percentage (52.1 percent), earning second-team Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association All-Chesapeake Region honors. Also returning is Lauriann Parker (Glenelg), who ranked 10th in the nation in assists last season with 46.

Salisbury

Coach: Jim Nestor (11th season, 176-23)

2011 record: 19-3 overall, 8-0 league

Conference: Capital Athletic Conference

The Baltimore Sun's take: The Sea Gulls will start the season ranked No. 6 in the IWLCA preseason poll. Midfielder Allie Wheatley will lead a high-powered offense after earning second-team All-Region honors with a team-leading 46 goals, including five game-winners.

Stevenson

Coach: Kathy Railey (seventh season, 55-44; 13th season overall, 119-83)

2011 record: 10-7 overall, 6-2 league

Conference: Capital Athletic Conference

The Baltimore Sun's take: All-Conference pick Sarah Pincus is coming off another stellar year, starting all 17 games and leading the Mustangs with 25 caused turnovers — fourth all time in the school's single-season history. Marissa Meiklejohn (Old Mill) will help lead the attack after scoring 29 goals with six assists.

Washington

Coach: Julika Blankenship (fourth season, 26-21)

2011 record: 11-6 overall, 4-5 league

Conference: Centennial Conference

The Baltimore Sun's take: After finishing the season with their best record since 2003, the Shorewomen are primed for another impressive run with 11 of 12 starters returning. Washington will be led by All-Conference pick Brooke Paulshock (C. Milton Wright), Ann Eickelberg, Caroline Stanley (Hereford) and Rachel Bartee (South Carroll), who was second on the team with 30 goals.