DUNELAND ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Players to watch: Kody Lobsiger, Sr., MF; Zach Froman, Sr., D/MF; Jonathan Blake, Jr., MF/F; Caleb Gmyrek, Jr., G; John Ward, Jr., MF/F; Billy Biehl, So., F.
Outlook: A defense which allowed just nine goals last season returns in tact. Blake is the returning leading scorer with 11 goals, but scoring shouldn't be a problem. Twenty players last season had at least a goal or an assist.
Quote: "It's probably the most-balanced team we've had in a long time. We don't get really excited about the regular season. We want to be clicking heading into the postseason, because that's when it matters." !~ coach Jamie Sensibaugh
Players to watch: Tony Zervos, Sr., D; Nico Garcia-Vicente, Sr., MF/F; Zach Sneiderwine, Sr., F; Martin Mitreski, Sr., MF; Carmelo Morales, Jr., F; Spase Dorsuleski, Jr., D.
Outlook: The Bulldogs are coming off the best season in the school's history, where they won a state championship. Bay Kurtz decided to play for Real Salt Lake's U16 team this season, but there are still plenty of talented players back from last season's team.
Quote: "We have a lot of attack-minded players. Distribution of goals is going to be a key to our success." !~ coach Mike Bazin
Players to watch: Josh Crague, Sr., F; Ethan Kawalak, Sr., D; Ogi Janjus, Jr., F; Adam Van Milligan, Sr., MF;
Outlook: The Indians were hit extremely hard with both graduation and four kids choosing to play at academies instead of the high school. To make matters more complicated, Paul Junokas is out for the season with a torn ACL. However, rebuilding years aren't mentioned at L.C., and expectations are still high. Crague will be a key leader this season.
Quote: "A lot is going to be put in Josh's shoulders. We're optimistic and young, but it should be a good season." !~ coach Jereme Rainwater
Players to watch: Josh Aaron, Sr., F; Nick Tobar, Sr., D; Michael Gazdick, Sr., MF; Tyler Kuzdas, Sr., MF; Carter Huber, So., GK; Richard Martinez, Sr., F; Josh McCoy, So., MF.
Outlook: There is reason for optimism among the Slicers, as there is a great influx of experienced players back at almost every position. Aaron needs just 16 goals to become LaPorte's all-time leader in that category.
Quote: "The decision-making is efficient and we can be very creative." !~ coach Chris Buresh
Players to watch: Luis Sanchez, Sr., F; Austin Jamerson, Sr., SW; Miguel Lagunas, Sr., MF; Nick Enghofer, Sr., F.
Outlook: In terms of experience, this is the most senior-laden team the Pirates have had in years. There are 16 seniors on the team this season, and the expectation is that leadership and experience can help them rebound and become more competitive in the DAC.
Quote: "This is a very cohesive group. They've all grown up together and are willing to work hard." !~ coach Brian Past
Players to watch: Matt Beras, Sr., GK; Eric Stevenson, Sr., D; Stephen Cass, Sr., D; Stephen Plew, Sr., D; Jared Gardner, Sr., D/MF; Austin Snyder, Sr., MF; Sam Kintzele, So., MF; Sam Mallon, So., MF; Nathan Schwanke, Jr., D/GK.
Outlook: The Wolves return a lot of seniors on the defensive side of the ball, but lost 40 goals to graduation last season. City has a new assistant coach in Tyler Stahl, the son of head coach Bruce Stahl.. Defense will be the main focus for the Wolves this season.
Quote: "We're going to have to be defensive-minded. I think we'll be very competitive, as we always have been." !~ coach Bruce Stahl.
Players to watch: Alex Becker, Sr., D; Logan Cole, Sr.; MF; Nate Johnson, Jr., MF/F; Ben Schaefer, So., F.
Outlook: A.J. Monroe returns as head coach. Monroe was 52-17-3 from 2003-06, and he hopes for the same types of successes in his second stint. Two-time All-DAC selection Becker leads the list of returning starters.
Quote: "There were too many games last season that we were not in the game, so I want to solidify our defense." !~ Monroe
Players to watch: Ethan Lehnen, Sr., G; Chase Holford, Sr., D; Tommy Billings, Sr., D; Isaac Withrow, Sr., F; Nick Hathoot, Jr., D; Luke Kovar, Jr., MF. Brendan Sutherland, Jr., F.
Outlook: Withrow was the second-leading scorer last season, and coach Danny Jeftich has been impressed by Lehnen' development between the pipes. Several players gained valuable experience a year ago, so the Vikings could be one of the DAC favorites.
Quote: "Our defense is very solid up front. I feel really good about this team." !~ Jeftich
GREAT LAKES ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Outlook: Losing Arturo Avila and Geovany Joya will hurt the Pioneers, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, Clark normally fields a strong team, and this season should be no different.
Outlook: The Gladiators will likely remain in an uphill battle in the GLAC and sectional.
Players to watch: Hairon Sosa, Sr., F; Marco Zendejas, Jr., GK.
Outlook: Coach Carlos Alvarez says his team is young, but skilled all over the pitch. Sosa is a top-notch scorer and it's always good to have some experience between the pipes, which Zendejas provides.
Quote: "With the help of our older players this season will be a good one for us." !~ Alvarez
Outlook: Losing players such as JaWayne Spence and Jorge Velazquez will hurt, so the Governors will need to find other weapons on offense.
NORTHWEST CROSSROADS CONFERENCE
Players to watch: Dave Zuccarelli, Sr., SW; Matt Anderson, Sr., ST; Kyle Costa, Sr., MF; Mike Gore, Jr., F; Mike Croux, Sr., GK, Tom Cappas, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Andrean made it to the Regional finals last season before losing to Bethany Christian. A wealth of talent and experience is back for the 59ers, and this is a well-knit group that plays well together.
Quote: "I think this team is as good or better than last year. We're looking to go deep." !~ coach Pete Reist
Players to watch: Thomas Kudya, Sr., MF; Andrew Rothchild, Sr., D; Carlos Tellez, Jr., MF; David Shell, Jr., MF; Steve Sharp, Sr., MF.
Outlook: The Panthers finished 8-9 last season, and they'll look to improve on that. A good core is back this season, and they've all gotten more used to playing with each other."
Quote: "It should be an interesting year. Andrean looks tough and Munster is always tough, but we should be right in there with the rest of them." !~ coach Ron Knestrict
Outlook: A senior-laden squad last season, the Trojans lost just about all of their key players. Nine seniors were in the starting lineup last season, and losing players such as Mike Anderson and Pablo Baldetti will be difficult to recover from.
Outlook: The Brickies will aim to compete better during the regular season and sectionals.
Players to watch: Jacob Swartz, Sr., GK; Justin Eger, Sr., D; Luis Cazares, Sr., D; Tyler Montgomery, Jr., F.
Outlook: The Kougars have had a solid defense for years, but offensively, the goal is to be more aggressive this season. K.V. was 6-6-5 last season, and all five of those ties could have easily been wins.
Quote: "We're going to shoot more and expect positive results from it." !~ coach Jason Vanderwoude
Player to watch: Noah Newcomb, Jr., F
Outlook: The Red Devils will field a very young team with 13 sophomores and only seven combined juniors and seniors. Coach Chris Werling is looking forward to seeing what the team can do this season.
Quote: "We're looking to build for the future. We've got some talent and we'll be able to beat some teams." !~ Werling
Players to watch: Evan Kattan, Sr., GK; Niko Karigan, Sr., D; Drake Bowers, Sr., F/MF.
Outlook: Munster lost a lot of kids to graduation, including one of the best offensive players in the state in Zarko Coric. However, the Mustangs are perenially one of the best teams in the area, and they should continue to remain that way.
Quote: "Whenever you lose a big senior class, you're cautiously optimistic about the next season. We're just going to take it one game at a time and see where the season takes us." !~ coach Jim Prasopoulos
NORTHWEST INDIANA SOCCER CONFERENCE
Players to watch: Will Kazpryzycki, Sr., SW; Gonzalo Romo, Sr., MF; Aaron Garza, Sr., MF; Brandon Wade, Jr., D; Robbie Lorenz, Sr., MF/F.
Outlook: The Warriors have a lot of returning talent at almost every position. Romo is one of the best midfielders in the area, and Noll should remain one of the most talented teams in Northwest Indiana.
Quote: "I need somebody who can step up and say 'I'm going to lead this team.'" !~ coach Armando Garza
Players to watch: Riley VanEerd, Sr., MF; Shaw Hiestand, Sr., D; Nathan Miller, So., GK; Nick Azevedo, So., F.
Outlook: The Wolves certainly aren't lacking in experienced players, and there is some talented youth to back that up. Boone Grove should continue to remain a solid small-school team.
Quote: "The team has great chemistry and great senior leadership." !~ coach Brian Sherwin
Players to watch: Justin Handke, Jr., MF; Brandon Maatman, Sr., D; Mitchell Zeilenga, Sr., F; Sean Williams, Sr., GK.
Outlook: Covenant Christian lost 10 seniors last season, six of whom were starters. Williams is recovering from a grade three ankle sprain and probably won't be able to play until the second half of the season.
Quote: "We'll just take it game by game and not try to do too much." !~ coach Andrew Dunham
Outlook: The Wildcats lost in the semifinals of the Rensselaer Sectional last season. They'll look to improve upon that this year.
Players to watch: Mike Upchurch, Sr., D; Eric Barzicky, Sr., D; Grant Morrow, So., D/MF/F; Richard Botts, So., GK/MF/F.
Outlook: Hebron has a goal of winning the Porter County Conference and improving the level of play. The team has a good mix of youth and experience.
Quote: "The boys are very serious about soccer and having (a) positive approach to the game." !~- coach Zeljko Mijatovic
Players to watch: Jordan Greavu, Sr., F; Nick Simpson, Sr., F; Miguel Muzquiz, Sr., MF; Dennis Deardurff, Jr., F; Jesse Crider, Sr., D.
Outlook: Dedication, loyalty and drive has been visible since day one of Kouts' summer workouts. The team lost only one senior in Jon Frame, so Kouts is in a position where most of the team vibe and work ethic has stayed strong. The early practice sessions have showed growth, maturity and advancement.
Quote: We plan to underestimate no one, defend our home field with strength, and let our feet do all our talking." !~- coach Robert Dowhen
Players to watch: Pat Cannon, Sr., MF; Jack Disser, Jr., F.
Outlook: Expectations are lofty at Marquette, as the entire team is back this season. The mentality of the program has completely changed, as offseason workouts and conditioning have been introduced. The kids have bought into it, and a conference and sectional title are what the Blazers are seeking.
Quote: "The entire team has committed to the program I've installed. Their conditioning with me and on their own time has drastically improved." !~ coach Matt Fletcher
Outlook: The Cherokees lost a 1-0 overtime match to Kouts in last season's Boone Grove Sectional. They'll look to be more competitive in the PCC this season.
Players to watch: Nick Moskwa, Sr., MF; Brian Schmaker, Sr., MF; Joe Nugent, Jr., F; Josh Chilel, Jr., F.
Outlook: The Senators lost only one player to graduation last season, so that should only translate to positive things for a program that continues to build for the future. There were only 15 kids on the team last season, and that has increased to 25 this year.
Quote: "I believe that we are going to do better than last year. We still have a fledgling program that is progressing at a nice pace." !~- coach Joe Nugent
Outlook: The Bearcats captured the Rensselaer Sectional title last season, so look for them to aim at a repeat performance.
Players to watch: Eric Cuevas, So., MF; Oscar Rios, Sr., MF; Enrique Rosas, Sr., D; Estevan Santos, Sr., MF
Outlook: The Cardinals have been working well together in practice so far. This team has a good mix of youth and experience and could be in for a good season.
Quote: "We hope to have a winning season and make a run at sectionals." !~ coach Costulo Perez
Outlook: The Bombers lost to Hanover Central 1-0 in their own sectional last season, and will look to improve upon that performance for this year.
Players to watch: Dylan Perney, Sr., F; Austin Barnes, Sr., MF/F Austin Swiftek, Sr., MF.
Outlook: The Blackhawks will be very solid on offense and have been working together well in practice. Adam Knipe takes over coaching duties from Brian Tonn.
Quote: "They have a good concept of running plays and getting into positions to score." !~ Knipe