Players to watch: Hannah Giroux, Jr., MF; Daisy Barraza, Jr., D; Eve Stolzenbach, So., MF; Jordyn Miner, So., F; Sam Stolzenbach, Sr., MF; Abby Becker, So., D.
Outlook: Beecher is in a year of transition and will need the players to learn their roles quickly if the team is going to have success. Giroux was the team MVP in 2013 and was an All-River Valley Conference selection. Beecher's speed should keep them in contention in most matches, but the Bobcats will need to find finishers at the net. Giroux is the Bobcats' leading returning goal scorer from last season with nine goals.
Players to watch: Erika Garcia, Jr., F/MF; Andreina Hernandez, Jr., MF; Jazmin Aldape, Sr., MF; Jasmin Villanueva, So., F; Maria Narcisi, Sr., GK.
Outlook: Bloom will again look to contend for the Southland Athletic Conference title after finishing with only one conference loss in 2013 and sharing the crown with Crete-Monee. Circle April 24 and May 13 when the Blazing Trojans meet the rival Warriors for what usually are the two games that decide first place. "We have a strong returning lineup," Bloom Township coach Kelly Gutierrez said. "But we're replacing a few key players. Always, we want to work harder and move farther in the playoffs."
Players to watch: Adrianna Vera, So., MF; Ashley Cockle, Jr., MF; Alexis Cockle, Jr., MF; Lydia Cogan Jr., MF.
Outlook: The Warriors were 7-1 in the Southland Athletic Conference last season and shared the title with rival Bloom Township. Vera led Crete-Monee in scoring as a freshman with 25 goals, and the Warriors will look for her to play a big offensive role from a midfielder position this season. "I'm really hoping we can get some girls to step up and be leaders," Warriors coach Julian Lagunas said. "The core of this team has been on varsity for the last three years. Last year, we came up short in some of our objectives, and we hope this year is different."
Players to watch: Kristin Spratt, Sr., D; Lauren Hurley, Sr., MF; Sammi Farkos, Sr., MF; Fallon Perl, Sr., D; Kelda Sandstrom, So., F.
Outlook: Homewood-Flossmoor features a senior-laden team that will field eight starting seniors. The Vikings were 12-7-1 in 2013 and will look to improve on that record this time around with their experience. The Vikings will also hope to repeat some of their playoff success from two seasons ago when the team reached the super sectional. "We have a lot of seniors returning, which will definitely help us through the season," H-F coach Jim Boswell said. "And we have some young talent too that's going to help us out."
Players to watch: Annie Brucer, Sr., D; Emma Pawlowski, Jr., MF/F; Paige Osika, So., F; Mikinsey Pruim, So., GK.
Outlook: The Vikings are led by a core defensive group who along with freshman keeper Pruim posted six shutouts last year. The defense is a solid foundation and the front will need to capitalize and get the Vikings some leads. If Illiana Christian can get goals in their close matches, the Vikings should be a tough team to beat. "We're super, super excited," Vikings coach AJ Turkstra said. "I think that we are better than we have been in the last couple years. I think we're going to be hard to beat, and I think we are going to be hard to score on. I think we can be competitive against pretty much everyone we play."
Players to watch: Sarah Sieracki, Sr., GK; Renae Melone, So., MF; Hailey Losselyong, Sr., F; Abigail Kresal, Jr., MF; Rachel Churilla, Fr., MF.
Outlook: Losselyong finished with 19 goals a season ago and will be the heart and soul of the Marian Catholic attack. The Spartans made a strong run to the Lincoln-Way West Sectional championship last spring but lost eight starters to graduation. If Marian Catholic can develop their younger players, they should be poised for another surprising season. "It's going to be a process that requires patience," Marian Catholic coach Nasser Shahtaji said. "Hopefully, we click towards the end just like last year."
ST. FRANCIS DE SALES
Players to watch: Alma Solis, Sr., MF; Bianca Garcia, So., GK; Mayra Munoz, Sr., D; Anette Gonzalez, Jr., F; Brittney Johnson, Sr., F.
Outlook: St. Francis de Sales will be with a new group of teams in the Chicago Catholic League with the league divided into North and South divisions. Coach Jorge Sanchez said the team is still in the process of rebuilding with younger players and it will be tough picking up CCL wins. "Hopefully this year we'll get some better results," coach Jorge Sanchez said. "We look forward to trying our best against any team."
Players to watch: Debo Akinsanya, Sr., MF/F; Callie Barnum, Sr., D; Monica Munoz, Jr., MF/F.
Outlook: The United will feature three starting freshman and will have a mix of young and old players on the pitch. Munoz has twice been a Times all-area first-teamer. Her 20 goals and 18 assists from a year ago show her ability to be the total team player. The United are without last year's scoring leader Nicole Vega, who transferred to Lane Tech. Thornton Fractional will need to find offensive threats to complement Munoz and help generate wins in 2014.
Players to watch: Itzel Banuelos, Sr., GK; Stephany Leon, Jr., MF; Nataly Porras, Fr., MF/F; Maribel Salgado, Fr., D/MF; Amaria Andrews, Sr., F.
Outlook: Thornton Township will try to start changing the course of the program and a winning record in 2014 will go a long way towards changing the program outlook. The District 205 co-op is made up of plenty of younger players with a select number of seniors so it may be a learning year for the Thunderbirds. "The girls are excited and they're hopeful to get a whole bunch of Ws this year," Thornwood coach Maria Gonzalez said.
Players to watch: Sam Sosa, Jr., MF/F; Renata Veljacic, Jr., F; Jennifer Lopez, So., MF; Adriana Mendoza, Jr., F/MF; Maria Ramirez, Jr., D.
Outlook: Washington will look to improve on a 10-4-2 record from a year ago, and the team will look to a core of young players who will continue to develop. The Patriots are looking to compete for a conference title in the Chicago Public League, and Washington will have to finish well over .500 in conference play if the Patriots are going to attain a first-place finish. "We want to be that team that has talent but also how are you doing in your classes," Washington coach Rasael Ramirez said. "We want to be one of the teams with the highest GPA in the league."
-- Compiled by Times Correspondent Dwight Haislet