When Kim Vincent took over the Hope College women’s lacrosse team three years ago, she recruited on campus as well as off to begin building her foundation for the Flying Dutch.

She asked several underclassmen to play a different sport. Many of them did and helped Hope take the first step toward success under Vincent.

Hope enters the 2017 season — Vincent’s third — as one of the top teams in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and a contender for the league title.

“We’ve got a lot of strong seniors who are leaders on off the field,” Vincent said. “The senior class is special to me. They were the ones who took a chance with lacrosse three years ago. I reached out at the school and see who would take a risk and try a new sport. Five out of the seven did that. They’ve become leaders on the field and great mentors.”

The Flying Dutch are coming off their most successful season.

They went 7-6 during the 2016 season, including a third-place mark of 6-2 in MIAA play. The overall wins and league wins were the most in the team’s four-year history.

Hope is counting on a senior class of seven to lead its roster of 18 players. There are three juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen.

The Flying Dutch’s defense will be anchored by senior goalie Alexandria Watts of Union, Michigan (Edwardsburg HS), and senior defenders Mara Droppers of Winter Park, Florida (Winter Park) and Audrey Park of Ann Arbor, Michigan (Pioneer). Droppers is a returning All-MIAA performer.

Midfielders Dana Kym of Libertyville, Illinois (Libertyville) and Reinie Thomas of Portage, Michigan (Portage Central) return as well. Kym played in only two matches last season because of injury.

Senior Serena Harris of Preston, Idaho (Preston) will play attack for the Flying Dutch.

The Flying Dutch must overcome the loss of MIAA Rookie of the Year and all-league attacker Hannah VanAlst, who transferred to Michigan State University. VanAlst scored 26 goals, including 20 in MIAA matches.

Hope was picked third in the MIAA preseason coaches poll. The Flying Dutch, who received one first-place vote, totaled 50 points to trail preseason favorite Calvin and second-place Albion.

Hope opens the season on Thursday, Feb. 23 with a nonleague match against NAIA Cleary, Michigan.

The Flying Dutch’s home opener is Friday, March 10 against Capital, Ohio at Van Andel Soccer Stadium.