Duneland Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Jon Ward, Sr., F; Jonathan Blake, Sr., F; Billy Biehl, Jr., MF; Jared O'Dell, Jr., MF.
Outlook: Coach James Sensibaugh returns nearly his entire offensive attack, including prolific goal scorers Blake and Biehl. Lack of depth on the bench may be the only drawback for the Trojans this season.
Players to watch: Carmelo Morales, Sr., F; Stojan Krstevski, Sr., F; Spase Dorsuleski, Sr., D; Erik Eksten, Jr., D
Outlook: With a load of talented seniors coming back, including All-Area performer Morales, the Bulldogs will look to make some noise once playoff time comes once again. They should also look to compete for a Duneland crown. Barring injury, Morales should be in the running for player of the year in October.
Players to watch: Ogi Janjus, Sr., S/MF; Jorge Trujillo, Jr., G; Trevor Clapman, Sr., D; Sam Willis, Jr., D
Outlook: This Indian team will have a different look than in past years, as they only have two seniors starting and they will look to get significant goal scoring from a variety of players. "I’m excited about how this team competes and their soccer IQ is amazing."
Players to watch: John Aaron, So., MF; Carter Huber, Jr., GK; Josh McCoy, Jr., MF.
Outlook: The Slicers may have lost five starters from last season, but the underclassmen are all experienced. Aaron and McCoy form one of the best young duos at the midfield position in the Region. LaPorte will be tested early, playing a quarter of its games in the first two weeks of the season.
Player to watch: Ryan Soto, Sr.
Outlook: There isn’t much coming back for the Pirates, as they lost 16 seniors to graduation. If they want to be successful in the deep, talented, and always tough Dunleand, they will have to find more consistent scoring.
Players to watch: James Ohms, So., MF; Ryan Stevenson, Jr., MF; Erik Stevenson, Sr., MF; Jory Palmer, Sr., F.
Outlook: Coach Brian Meyers arrives at Michigan City after revitalizing the soccer program at Steinmetz High in Chicago. The LaPorte native sees a lot of similarities between both jobs and is eager to get started with the Wolves.
Players to watch: Nathan Johnson, Sr., D; Ben Schaefer, Jr., MF; Matt Ford, Jr., F
Outlook: The Indians went from not being in games two years ago to amassing multiple one-goal losses last season. Coach A.J. Monroe hopes that his forwards improve on finishing shots this year and find more of a cutting edge to their play.
Players to watch: Luke Kovar, Sr. MF, Andrew Fletcher, Sr., GK; Dan Roth, Sr., D; Brendan Sutherland, Sr., F
Outlook: The Vikings graduated 12 seniors from last season's semistate squad, but longtime coach Danny Jeftich has another 12 seniors to lean on this year. Valparaiso has a grueling scheduling this year that is designed to prepare the squad for postseason success.
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Players to watch: Alex Maciel, Sr., MF; Alejandro Gomez, Sr., MF; Juan Pinto, Jr., D
Outlook: The Pioneers graduated 10 seniors from a program that has seen some success in the recent years, but their midfield is in the capable hands of seniors Maciel and Gomez. New coach Stefen Hutchins is confident that the program will continue to roll, despite some changes that have occurred over the past year.
Outlook: Gavit could make some noise in Great Lakes Athletic Conference this season with Clark and Morton losing a bunch of players.
Players to watch: Pedro Fernandez, Sr., MF; Marco Zendejas, Sr., GK; Saul Vargas, So., D
Outlook: The Wildcats only lost four players and have four seniors returning from last year’s team along with a slew of sophomores led by Eliseo Fernandez, who played significant minutes and was one of the team's leading scorers.
Players to watch: Andres Hernandez, Sr., MF; Adrian Palacios, Sr., D
Outlook: The Governors took a huge hit, as they lost seven senior starters and currently have no juniors on the roster. Coach Chris Jagadich will have to look for production from his underclassmen if they are to be successful. He also expects a lot from Hernandez, whose brother plays for Purdue Cal.
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Players to watch: Mike Gore, Sr., MF; Dan Adair, Sr., D; Mike Metlov, Sr., F; Aaron Corder, Sr., D
Outlook: This could be the year that Andrean could break through with a sectional title and could be poised for a long postseason run, as it returns the majority of a defense that gave up just 1.5 goals per game from last year.
Players to watch: Carlos Tellez, Sr., MF; David Schell, Sr., F; George Hudcizius, Sr., MF
Outlook: Griffith losing six seniors will hurt, but the Panthers return five starters and eight total lettermen. They also return junior Matt Potacki in the net, who performed well in summer camps and against LC last year, giving up one goal on 17 shots.
Players to watch: Joey Goodeve, Sr., MF; Johnny Toweson, Sr., MF; Nick Mastej, Sr., SW; Jorday O’Day, Jr., ST; Marco Guerrero, Jr., MF
Outlook: Basically the same team is back and they will expect to contend in the extremely tough NCC. Second-year coach Pete Dorsuleski has high hopes for this team that made some strides last year.
Players to watch: Matt Plesac, Jr.; Willie Prieto, So.
Outlook: The good news for the Brickies is that they have their leading scorer and leading assist man coming back in Plesac and Prieto. The bad news is that they lost their goalie in Logan Allen, who recorded a whopping 169 saves last year. There is nowhere to go for the Hobart soccer program than up, as new coach John Hutchins hopes to improve on last year's 1-15-1 mark.
Player to watch: Tyler Montgomery, Sr., F
Outlook: After going 11-8 last season, the program will be at somewhat of a crossroads because of the vacancies of Luis Cazares, who led the team with 18 goals and ten assists, and Jacob Swartz, who was one of the stingiest keepers in the area with 97 total saves. However, All-area honorable mention forward Montgomery is returning, and the Kougars will try to still be more aggressive on the offensive end.
Players to watch: Noah Newcomb, Sr., MF/ST; Kyle Knetz, Jr., D; Brandon Smith, Jr., MF
Outlook: As one of the younger teams in the area, Lowell will look to improve upon last year and attack more by providing itself with better opportunities on both sides of the ball.
Players to watch: Demetri Georgalas, Sr., C/MF/D; Peter Panos, Sr., MF/F; Ricky Delgado, Sr., D
Outlook: Munster graduated a big senior class from a team that was successful in capturing the program’s 12th sectional title in a row. With the talent pool being spread out through all the classes, it will be up to the coaching staff to find a good blend of players in order to extend the postseason streak.
NORTHWEST INDIANA SOCCER CONFERENCE
Players to watch: Nick Azevedo, Jr., F; Austin Aguilera, Jr., F; Cameron Varlan, Sr., MF; Nathan Miller, Jr., GK.
Outlook: The Wolves, who are also part of the PCC, return an experienced group from last season's sectional championship squad. Azevedo and Aguilera should get plenty of scoring opportunities this season.
Players to watch: Aaron Garza, Sr., MF; Gabriel Anguiano, So., F, Brandon Wade, Sr., SW; Ryan Cloghessy, Sr., MF
Outlook: Noll lost 12 kids from a program that has been extremely successful over the past few years. Graduation losses shouldn’t stop the Warriors from scoring in bunches again, as they have one of the deepest talent pools in the area.
Players to watch: Alec Nirtaut, Jr., F; Dillon Bakker, Sr., F; Danny Grill, So., MF
Outlook: Twenty one players came out for the team this season, and the list includes just four seniors. The Wildcats’ strength is going to come from their midfield, as they had six different players that played there last year. Hanover did lose its four defenders, but Grunewald isn’t worried because there were several sophomores that got a lot of playing time.
Players to watch: Grant Morrow, Jr., MF/F; Austin Rease, Sr., D/F; Denis Mijatovic, So., MF
Outlook: The Hawks, who are also part of the PCC, return seven starters from a winning team last year and add several talented newcomers. Coach Zelijko Mijatovic enjoys having a versatile lineup and could play up to four goal keepers this season.
Players to watch: William Connelly, Sr., MF; Tommy Anderson, Sr., D; Jack Disser, Sr., MF
Outlook: The Blazers lost nine seniors off last season's state quarterfinal squad. Coach Matt Fletcher will count on Connelly and Anderson for leadership.
Players to watch: Austin Sloboda, Sr., F; Joey DeSimone, Sr., MF; Ben Moricz, Sr., MF.
Outlook: The Bearcats return a senior-laden group that will provide plenty of experience down the spine of the field. DeSimone will move from defense this year and should be a scoring threat.
PORTER COUNTY CONFERENCE
Player to watch: Dennis Dearduff, Sr., F
Outlook: Graduation wiped clean a bulk of the roster, then veteran coach Robert Dowhen moved downstate. Girls coach Tim Schwartz takes over this rebuilding program.
Players to watch: Cody Tratedas, Sr., GK/MF; Micah Frigo, Jr., MF.
Outlook: First-year coach Steve Coates was a former assistant at Washington Twp. under Joe Alessi. Now the pair will look to guide the Cherokees back to a winning program.
Outlook: "All of the kids that showed up to practice have played. They have experience and we can quickly move past the fundamentals. I think we'll be pretty talented for a small school and we should be able to win three or four games." — coach Steve Coates
Players to watch: Joe Nugent, Sr., F; Josh Chilil, Sr., MF; Alex Perez, Jr., F
Outlook: Losing nine seniors will hurt the Senators this season, but coach Joe Nugent has more than 20 players in the program for the second straight year.
Players to watch: Chandler Bell, Sr., MF; Austin Swistek, Jr., F
Outlook: Coach Adam Knipe doesn't get the same numbers that bigger schools have, but that doesn't mean Westville is short on talent. Knipe likes that his new players have come in eager to learn during camp and believes the squad will improve throughout the year.
Players to watch: Graciano Santos, Sr., MF; Eric Cuevas, Jr., MF; Francisco Torres, So., F
Outlook: This young team’s view is that the best defense is a good offense, which is why the Cardinals will look to pick up the pace and put more balls in the net.
Players to watch: Chase Klingler, Sr., MF; Matthew Robibaugh, Jr., MF; Chandler Gull, Jr., S
Outlook: The Bombers lost their top scorer, but they won’t have a shortage of scoring because nine players scored four goals or more last season.
— Compiled by Times Correspondents Paul Oren and Paul Honeycutt