Duneland Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Elizabeth Benson, Jr., MF; Rosie Biehl, Jr., MF/F/D; Alex Bucko, Jr., G; Carley Furto, Jr., G; Tori Schroeder, Sr., MF/F; Elizabeth Venson, Jr., MF.
Outlook: Seven starters from last season's semistate squad were lost to graduation, so players like Biehl and others will have to step up their play this year.
Quote: "I expect great things from Rosie this year. I look at this as a rebuilding year. I still think we can be very competitive." !~ Coach David Galloway
Players to watch: Sarah Rivich, Jr., F; Abbi Small, Sr., F; Cassie Donsbach, Sr., D.
Outlook: The Bulldogs should have a fire in their bellies after losing to Lake Central in overtime in last season's sectional championship. There's plenty of talent on this team. It just needs to find a way to win the big game.
Quote: "We are deep at each position. We have girls with multiple years of experience at every position." !~ Mikrut
Players to watch: Lauren Doreski, Jr., F; Kara Polus, Sr., F; Jane Gates, Sr., F.
Outlook: L.C. is always strong and may be the team to beat in the area again this year. The Indians are experienced and talented at both ends. The only question mark is replacing Amy Gasiorowski in goal.
Quote: "Take one game at a time. Focus on getting better as a team each game we play." !~ Coach Lori Smith
Players to watch: Carlie Erne, Sr., SW; Kelsie Zawada, Sr., F.
Outlook: Zawada, who scored 14 goals last season, is an Indiana State recruit and the school's career leading scorer. Teammates like Erne and midfielder Johnna Belkiewitz (five assists) will be asked to extend their roles on the team.
Quote: "After losing a class that brought incredible senior leadership to the table, we are looking for significant contributions from our underclassmen in order to fill the void." !~ Coach Bryan Murray
Players to watch: Betsy Carpenter, Sr., G; Katy Kniola, Sr., SW; Kelsey Pawloski, Sr., F.
Outlook: Pawloski and Carpenter are veteran players in the lineup for the Wolves, who advanced to the Portage Sectional championship last season. The play of this duo will be crucial to the success of the team.
Quote: "It's huge having a striker as powerful as Kelsey in the lineup. She has a killer shot. Betsy is focused and ready to go." !~ Coach Stephanie Dege
Players to watch: Natalia Ooms, Jr., MF; A.J. Marquez, So., F; Amy Aponte, Jr., SW.
Outlook: The Pirates gave up 60 fewer goals last season than they had the previous year. Depth will be an issue, though, and coach Ben Daniel expects most of his team to play 80 minutes.
Quote: "We were in games last year. We just need to add some offense and win some." !~ Daniel
Player to watch: Nicki Monahan, Jr., MF/F
Outlook: The Indians lost team leader Carly Bermes and goalie Tori Bliss to graduation. Monahan might be needed to pick up some of the leadership role this season.
Players to watch: Kate Johnson, Sr., MF/F; Kathryn Schoer, Sr., D.
Outlook: The Vikings return 10 starters from last year's regional squad, and the team is made up entirely of upperclassmen. Needless to say, expectations are high for this club.
Quote: "All of the girls are so excited for this season to begin. We had a possession game in practice a few days ago, and it was one of the most intense games I've seen." !~ Coach Robert Cespedes
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Player to watch: Barbara Maciel, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Longtime coach Dave Ralston hands the reins to Christina Linder, who will emphasize strength in the midfield and defense.
Quote: "We can go further than last year. We're looking for a sectional championship." !~ Linder
Player to watch: Caroline Orozco, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Coach Mary Reed fields a team with a lot to replace if it wants to stay in the hunt for a GLAC championship.
Player to watch: Priscilla Perez, Sr., D.
Outlook: Coach Mayra Rodriguez has the added challenge of dealing with Hammond High's academic probation in front of her, but the defense is strong, and there are a few veteran players.
Quote:"We've got a good mix of experience and young players. They work well together. I'm excited." !~ Rodriguez
Players to watch: Courtney Castle, Sr., D; Amanda Juarez, Sr., D.
Outlook: John Chance is the third coach in as many season at Morton, and his goal is simple: Bring the GLAC crown back to Hessville. The Govs are strong on defense.
Quote: "We can go as high as we want to go." !~ Chance
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Player to watch: Gabby Wojkovich, Jr., D; Liz Krilich, Jr., D.
Outlook: There is experience in the back third, and that's what the 59ers will have to count on to win games this season.
Players to watch: Krystal Mendoza, Jr. F; Emily Duhan, So., F.
Outlook: Wally Kudyba steps over from being boys assistant coach to lead a team with balance. There are also seven seniors, so this team isn't green.
Quote: "We have a great group of leaders, and we have good soccer skills. I'm looking forward to the season." !~ Kudyba
Players to watch: Nikki Goodeve, Sr., MF; Kate Walker, Sr., D; Meredith Garcia, Sr., MF.
Outlook: The Trojans lost some of the core of last season's semistate qualifier but still bring back quite a bit. Per usual under coach Gordon Walker, expect this team to improve dramatically as the playoffs approach.
Quote: "If we can get some underclassmen to step up, we'll be tough to beat." !~ Walker
Players to watch: Kelly McGuire, Jr., D; Alexis Jenkins, So., F; Sydney Hicks, So., MF.
Outlook: Replacing Kim Tokarski and Chanler Rosenbaum are the biggest obstacles for new coach Colleen Newell to overcome. The diamond defense is gone, and Kelly McGuire leads an entirely new back third.
Quote: "Some of the young kids will have to step up. I think we'll gel by midseason." !~ Newell
Players to watch: Natalie Lotz, So., MF; Hannah Wilder, So., F; Haleigh Wenglarz, So., F.
Outlook: The future is very bright in Demotte, and the present just might be, as well. Almost everybody is back, including a sophomore trio that coach John Hufnagle said he wouldn't trade for any three players in the region. The Kougars can play with anybody.
Quote: "I fully expect us to be a legit contender." !~ Hufnagle
Players to watch: Megan Gramhofer, Sr., F, Casey Carlson, Fr., D.
Outlook: Mellissa Buche takes the helm of the Red Devils with a new system that includes a flat back four and no sweeper that her players will have to get used to. Still, her expectations are high.
Quote: "I expect to double, maybe triple last year's win total." !~ Buche
Players to watch: Alyssa Sheets, Sr., D; Morgan Newton, Sr., MF; Allyson Roller, Sr., MF.
Outlook: The Mustangs graduated nine starters last year. Still, Munster will be a solid team and could compete in the NCC.
Quote: "We are looking to rebuild. We are working hard at training for each game." !~ Coach Valerie Pflum
Northwest Indiana Soccer Conference
Players to watch: Jessica Seles, Sr. MF.
Outlook: Coach Lorenza Jara said the Warriors had to take some hits last year in order to be all they could be this season. Seles can find the back of the net and should lead a more-competitive Noll squad.
Quote: "As long as players understand their roles and master them, we will be contenders in the sectional." !~ Jara
Players to watch: Paige Aguilera, Jr., F; Anna Cantwell, Jr., D; Clauda Cooper, Jr., D; Olivia McCafferty, So., D; Brittany Shaffer, Sr., G; Mackenzie Starcevich, Jr., MF.
Outlook: The Wolves posted the program's best-ever record last season (15-2-1), but eight seniors have been lost to graduation from that league-championship squad. Still, Augilera and Starcevich could be the most lethal 1-2 combination in the conference.
Quote: "The rebuilding process will need to happen quickly. ... It will be a very tall order to defend the championship." !~ Coach Chad Roggow
Players to watch: Blayr Poston, Jr., F; Caitlin Schmal, Sr., D; Kristen Nirtaut, Sr., F.
Outlook: The Wildcats won all but four of their games last season, including the program's first postseason victory. A strong defense returns.
Quote: "We're strong but not deep. We've got to stay healthy." !~ Coach Jim Pattison
Players to watch: Sydnee Bartz, Jr., D; Rachel McCullough, Sr., MF; Rachel Pauer, So., F; Jessica Ruschak, Sr., D; Bethany Sodo, Sr., MF
Outlook: Coach Jim Schmidt's daughter Katy was the team's leading scorer last season with 19 goals and six assists. She's now playing at Calumet College. Softball players Kyle Doelling and Emily O'Leary will hope to provide some depth to the team.
Quote: "The key for our team will be replacing the scoring." !~ Schmidt
MICHIGAN CITY MARQUETTE
Players to watch: Sydney Mussman, Jr., ST; Mary Salyer, Sr., F; Rosie Wall, Jr., G.
Outlook: New coach Megan Ohms returns seven veteran players, including captain Salyer and key defensive performer Mussman.
Player to watch: Chloe Harris, So., MF.
Outlook: With just 13 girls on the roster and the key graduation losses of Breanna McLane and Shawnna Ramer, this will probably be a rebuilding year for first-year coach Karl Kuglar.
Quote: "It's going to be a transition year for us. So far, they're doing pretty well." !~ Kuglar
Players to watch: Kaylin Foster, Sr., MF; Alexa Fratzke, Jr., MF; Erinn Gallagher, Sr., D; Christina Gandy, Sr., G; Stephanie Moricz, Sr., F.
Outlook: Merrillville grad and IUPUI alum Vangel Nacovski takes over as coach. The Bearcats return several quality elements from last year's squad, and Nacovski sees promise in freshmen Shannon Eden, Lani Eaton and Hailey Morgan.
Quote: "I feel pretty good about this season, and we're going to try to work off what they did last year. They key is to play together and work as a team." !~ Nacovski
Players to watch: Monique Rojas, Sr., D; Bianca Navarro, Jr., D; Jackie Rodriguez, Sr., MF.
Outlook: Sandra Lazano is gone, and the situation between the pipes is foggy, but the momentum from last year's 7-0 sectional win over Gavit gives Cardinals fans something to look forward to.
Quote: "I expect us to be strong. I see some good things." !~ Coach Karen Michalski