The following is a list of the top Region teams and players.
Top 10 teams
1. Valparaiso: The Vikings are coming off of their eighth regional championship in school history and first since 2013. Valparaiso’s most notable returner is junior forward Morgan Catchur, who scored 29 goals last season.
2. Chesterton: Junior forward Addy Joiner was in the running for being named the Times’ Girls Soccer Player of the Year last season and rightfully so. The Valparaiso University commit notched 27 goals and 13 assists and is gearing up for another memorable campaign.
3. Crown Point: The Bulldogs lost a number of key seniors but return a lot of talent, as well. Senior forward Bridget Rayonec, who was second on the team last season with nine assists, will have an increased role.*
4. Wheeler: The Bearcats have won back-to-back semistate championships, but Times’ 2018 Girls Soccer Player of the Year Lyric Green has graduated. Senior forward Riley Garcia will look to step up in her absence. She accounted for 20 goals and 20 assists last season.
5. Lake Central: Aside from senior midfielder Mackenzie Rainwater, coach Shawn Thomas has a lot of faith in junior goalie Tatumn Damron to help lead a young Indians squad. Lake Central earned its 19th sectional championship last season.
6. Munster: The Mustangs were denied their fourth straight sectional championship in a loss to Lake Central last season. Munster will look to bounce back behind junior defender Alice Foley. She was second on the team with nine goals and helped the Mustangs finish undefeated in the Northwest Crossroads Conference.
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7. Highland: Trojans coach Courtney Condes is excited for a big year led by junior forward Megan Shaw. Last year, she scored a team-high 21 goals and notched seven games with multiple goals. Highland will also rely on sophomore forward Lauren Wilson, who gained some valuable experience on varsity last season.
8. Andrean: The 59ers moved down from Class 2A to Class A and coach Jeff Clapman expects his team to compete for a sectional title. Andrean did lose two strong seniors in Alyssa Schichner and Karah Kireta, but Clapman has a lot of confidence in senior midfielder Lillie Tomson and senior forward Maddie Clarkson.
9. Portage: The Indians held their own in the Duneland Athletic Conference last season, and coach Matt Plawecki anticipates that his team can grow even more coming into this year. Senior forward Samantha Flitar, who Plawecki thinks she is one of the most talented players in the Region, will lead the way.
10. Boone Grove: The Wolves finished three games below .500 last year, but coach Ken Burbridge believes this season can be special. Junior forward Lexi Darnell has been a scoring machine for Boone Grove through her first two seasons, netting 70 goals, and will guide a high-powered offense.
Top players (in alphabetical order)
Ashlee Bakaitis, Chesterton, senior, forward; Morgan Catchur, Valparaiso, junior, midfielder; Tatumn Damron, Lake Central, junior, goalie; Lexi Darnell, Boone Grove, junior, forward; Kaylee Evers, Illiana Christian, senior, forward; Aleah Ferngren, Valparaiso, junior, midfielder; Alice Foley, Munster, junior, defender; Riley Garcia, Wheeler, senior, midfielder; Addy Joiner, Chesterton, junior, forward; Mackenzie Rainwater, Lake Central, senior, midfielder; Bridget Rayonec, Crown Point, senior, forward; Megan Shaw, Highland, junior, forward; Kailyn Smith, Valparaiso, sophomore, defender; Olivia Vesling, Chesterton, junior, defender. *
* Editor's note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version.