Duneland Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Elizabeth Benson, Sr., MF; Alex Bucko, Sr., G; Angelina Jeka, Sr., D; Nicki Kollar, Sr., F; Ciera Brown, Sr., F; Sara Tumbas, Sr., D.
Outlook: Rosie Biehl opted for cross country this fall, forcing other players to make up for the scoring loss on offense. Juniors Bridget Brendza and Madisyn Coudriet might be part of the new offensive mix. Tumbas, a Valparaiso transfer, should help solidify the back line.
Quote: "We are going to have to have production out of players who previously haven't done it." !~ coach David Galloway
Players to watch: Sarah Rivich, Sr., MF; Jenna Arnold, Jr., D; Courtney Farrell, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Last year's regional champion lost eight seniors but still returns a good amount of talent. Rivich was the 2011 Times Player of the Year. The difference between success and struggling will be the development of the newcomers.
Quote: "We are expecting another great year challenging the best teams in NWI and the state." !~ Mikrut
Player to watch: Lauren Doreski, Sr., F.
Outlook: Julie Moore takes over a team that graduated 12 seniors. Still, she says she's excited to see what a promising groud of underclassmen can do as the season progresses. Doreski is among the area's best up front.
Quote: "Essentially, this is a completely new varsity dynamic. The girls have shown true dedication and hard work over the summer." !~ Moore
Players to watch: Brooke Pissarski, Jr., F; Addie Boardman, Sr., D; Dana Karnavas, Sr., D.
Outlook: Coach Caitlin Mikita has missed some of the early season for her honeymoon, but assistant Louie Kuzdas said the focus right now is on implementing a new system and coaching staff. The defense has depth and experience and Pissarski is very capable as a forward.
Quote: "We know what the Duneland Conference is about and we just want to peak at the right time." !~ Kuzdas
Players to watch: Paige Tharp, Jr., G; Erin Callahan, Jr., MF; Morgan Laux, Sr., F.
Outlook: The Wolves return six starters from a team that was winless in the Duneland last season. Leadership isn't a problem and Tharp will be solid in goal. The schedule is daunting, though.
Quote: "It's a rebuilding year and we definitely have a lot of work to do to mesh the team together, but so far, so good." !~ coach Stephanie Dege
Players to watch: Natalia Ooms, Sr., MF; Amy Aponte, Sr., D.
Outlook: Only a game under .500 in the DAC last season, Merrillville is a program on the uptick. This year, they return nine starters and have a better understanding of what it takes to win.
Quote: "My outlook for the season is positive. I think we turned a lot of heads last year and with a large returning group I think we can continue to get better." !~ coach Ben Daniel
Player to watch: Nicki Monahan, Sr., MF; Lauren Zack, Sr., G/MF; Katie Bylak, Sr., D; Heather Figueroa, Sr., MF; Carrie Prohl, So., MF; Julia Ashby, So., D.
Outlook: Portage alum and first-year head coach Ashley Severs will count on five returning starters to step up their play and help along the young players in the lineup.
Quote: "We're a young team; it is definitely a building year for our program." !~ Severs
Players to watch: Kathryn Schoer, Sr., D; Kaylee Pullins, Sr., MF; Andrea Violanti, Sr., MF; Jenelle Klumpe, Sr., MF; Lauren Reineke, Jr., F.
Outlook: The Vikings return nine starters, so the team hopes to build on last year's trip to the regional championship.
Quote: "We're not having to re-invent the wheel. Some roles will be changing, but I think the girls are a year wiser and have their heads on straight." !~ coach Robert Cespedes
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Player to watch: Mariam Giron, Sr., D; Karina Canelo, Jr., F; Brenda Rocha, So., F.
Outlook: Liz Almeida steps up from her assistant's position to lead the Pioneers. The strength of this team should be up front -- that's where most of the experience and talent will be.
Quote: "Things look really positive. We've had a lot of girls step up from last year." !~ Almeida
Player to watch: Jimena Flores, Sr., D.
Outlook: Coach Mary Reed is hampered by the lack of a real feeder program. Her six-member senior class has only two years of organized soccer experience. Still, she likes her team's spirit and heart.
Quote: "We have good kids who come out to play hard and compete and they will have fun." !~ Reed
Players to Watch: Erica Munoz, Sr, MF; Alondra Munoz, Jr, MF; Elizabeth Navarro, So., MF.
Outlook: Coach Mayra Rodriguez-Alvarez had the Wildcats take a step forward in the GLAC and even beat Morton in the postseason in 2011. She expects to be strong in the middle.
Quote: "I have carried the seniors on the team since they were freshmen. They are a very dedicated group who always deliver at practice, and I trust them to play hard in a game." !~ Rodriguez-Alvarez
Players to watch: Jackie Cervantes, Jr. GK; Cynthia Campos, Sr., F.
Outlook: John Chance is the first coach in four seasons to return to the Governors for a second campaign. He's excited about his defense and said the team's been putting in extra work conditioning to avoid losing games at the end.
Quote: "We'll be better at stopping opponents from putting the ball in the net and our goal-keeping will be top notch." !~ Chance
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Players to watch: Gabby Wojkovich, Sr., D; Liz Krilich, Sr., D.
Outlook: Last season was a rough one on Broadway, but there is strength and experience returning in the back. That's good because the NCC is full of scorers.
Players to watch: Cindy McInerney, Sr., F; Krystal Mendoza, Sr. F; Emily Duhan, Jr., F.
Outlook: This is the year for the Panthers. The talented group could make a run at an NCC crown. Figuring out who will be between the pipes is the one thing left on the docket.
Quote: "We are also hoping to improve from last year's successes. We are also hoping to win our sectional and advance to the regionals." !~ coach Wally Kudyba
Players to watch: Gabby Lamontagna, Jr., MF.
Outlook: The Trojans lost an enormous amount of experience to graduation, including nine starters. Much of the rost did see some playing time last season, though. And coach Gordon Walker always seems to get the most from his team.
Quote: "I think once we start to gel we will be fine. And by sectional time hopefully we will be hard to beat." !~ Walker
Players to watch: Kelly McGuire, Sr., D; Sydney Hicks, Jr., MF.
Outlook: Hobart is in a tough sectional and a tough conference. The goal for the Brickies is to be better than last season.
Players to watch: Natalie Lotz, Jr., MF; Haleigh Wenglarz, Jr., F; Jen Sobierajski, Sr. D.
Outlook: The trio of star juniors has become a duo with Hannah Wilder's decision to not come out for this year's squad, but K.V. will still be tough to unseat from the top of the NCC, where it's gone 15-3 over the last three seasons. Wenglarz is more than capable of picking up the scoring and coach John Hufnagle says Sobierajski may just be his best player.
Quote: "This year is a chance for us to show that this is a very good team and last year wasn't just a fluke." !~ Hufnagle
Players to watch: Kimberly Kasparian, Jr., F; Darby Misner, Sr., F.
Outlook: The conference title hasn't been in Lowell since 2007 and coach Melissa Buche said it's a team goal to rectify that. Ball control and passing have been the focus of practice. The freshman class is big (15 players) and talented.
Quote: "We're looking for a lot more competitive soccer." !~ Buche
Players to watch: Allyson Goodrich, Jr., F; Alison Engle, Sr., D; Sammi Koufos, Jr., MF.
Outlook: Overall, 11 players were lost to graduation but a good portion of the key components of the team return. The Mustangs will be no pushover and could be a force to be reckoned with come the postseason.
Quote: "We are training intensely in order to win both a conference title and a sectional title in the same season, something that has alluded the Mustangs in many years." !~ coach Valerie Pflum
Northwest Indiana Soccer Conference
Players to watch: Stephanie Delgado, Sr., G; Alejandra Almendarez, Sr., D; Shelby Garcia, Sr., MF.
Outlook: New coach Eric Schmiedl comes up from JV to take over for Lorenza Jara-Pastrick. The Warriors have improved each of the last two seasons and hope to continue that trend.
Quote: "I am confident that the complement of girls returning will be able to make up that difference." !~ Schmiedl
Players to watch: Paige Aguilera, Sr., F; Mackenzie Starcevich, Sr., MF; Rachel Gerhardt, Jr. G.
Outlook: The Wolves have won 28 games in two years and return seven starters. Aguilera and Starcevich are as good a 1-2 punch as there is in the conference. Aguilera is only 10 goals away from the school record. After losing it last year, coach Chad Roggow says there is renewed interest in the NWISC title.
Quote: "The season looks quite promising once again. There are multiple seniors that will lead the team." !~ coach Chad Roggow
Outlook: C.C. hopes to improve upon its .500 record last season. Coach Aaron deJager doesn't have a lot of depth, so the injury bug will have to be avoided.
Players to watch: Blayr Poston, Sr., F; Summer Pattison, Sr., MF;
Outlook: The 'Cats have a target on their back after going 7-0 in conference last year. Already an athletic legend at Hanover Central, Poston is only three goals from the school record. Depth is the biggest concern.
Quote: "We should be pretty solid if we can get through the bumpy early part of the season." !~ coach Jim Pattison
Players to watch: Sydnee Bartz, Sr., D; Rachel Pauer, Jr., F.
Outlook: Hebron could be a sleeper pick to win the NWISC. There is definitely some talent returning from a team that was a game away from a sectional championship last season.
MICHIGAN CITY MARQUETTE
Players to watch: Sydney Mussman, Sr., ST; Rosie Wall, Sr., G.
Outlook: New coach Lacey Hersman takes over a team in transition.
Player to watch: Tuzdae Ramer, Sr., D; Katie Patrovski, Jr., MF.
Outlook: Coach Karl Kuglar thinks his team can come a long way from last season's 1-15 campaign. Ramer is a talented sweeper whom Kuglar says has no quit in her.
Quote: "The main core is back and they're working well together." !~ Kuglar
Players to watch: Alexa Fratzke, Sr., MF; Haley Lovison, Jr., MF; Christie Hansen, Jr., D.
Outlook: New coach Bryan Murray comes over from LaPorte to take over a Bearcats team that lost a bunch. Murray believes this very young team will improve as it gains experience.
Quote: "The girls have done an incredible job of adjusting to their fifth different coaching staff in the last five years. I want to provide stability." !~ Murray
Players to watch: Bianca Navarro, Sr., D.
Outlook: Eric Moreno will be the third head coach in as many seasons for the Cardinals.