Girls soccer teams need balance

Girls soccer teams need balance


Girls soccer teams need balance


Goals flowed the way snow does in an avalanche.

Constant. Unstoppable.

Gilbert Highland scored 112 goals on its way to a 22-2 season and the Division I championship last season.

Forward Ashley Hatch blazed through defenses to score 33 goals. Her younger sister Brianna sliced through for 20 goals. Bre McCarter chipped in 18 more. Paige Morris totaled 13 goals. And midfielder Jaden DeGracie, maybe the most dangerous of them all, had a hand — and foot — in 41 of those goals in the form of assists.

All five players (along with five other starters) return this season for Highland. But the high-flying offense isn’t want gave Highland the title last season and what makes the team the favorite to repeat this season. It’s the team’s defense. The team’s balance.

Highland allowed just 15 goals last season. Highland returns four-year starer Caroline Stosz to its defensive back line and talented goalkeepers in starter Ashley March and two capable backups.

“It’s a stable of goalkeepers looking to impress again after a 2011 season with 14 shutouts,” Highland coach Jonathan Berzins.

Highland’s defense allows its attack to place constant pressure on the opposing team.

“Our strengths are our set pieces, transition and ability to break down teams,” Berzins said.

The rest of last season’s Division I tournament final four figures to challenge for the state title again. State runner-up Chandler Hamilton welcomes back seven starters, including dangerous striker Kylie Miniefield. Phoenix Xavier Prep is another well-balanced team that returns eight starters, including the team’s top scorer (forward Michaela Dooley), top distributor (midfielder Nichole Walts) and top defender (Kellie Peay). The top player among Phoenix Pinnacle’s eight returning starters is among the top players in the country for her age — junior forward Jorian Baucom, a U.S. youth national team standout.

Division II defending champion Tucson Catalina Foothills will miss 2012 Big Schools Player of the Year Jenna Glad, a do-everything midfielder who graduated. But it does return 16 players, many of whom saw significant minutes last season.

“We lost a great class of seniors and the younger kids will have to fill those shoes,” said Catalina Foothills coach Charlie Kendrick, the reigning Big Schools Coach of the Year. “The goal of the team will be to win the state championship and if we work hard this year and improve, we hope to be in the mix again.”

Catalina Foothills will be pushed by a Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge team that also graduated several stars but still has enough talent to contend.

In Division III, defending champion Goodyear Estrella Foothills returns 12 players but will be without 2012 Small Schools Player of the Year Kelsie Roberts and goalkeeper Rachel Cardwell. State runner-up Tucson Palo Verde and 51-goals scorer Jasmine Stokes will contend again as will Buckeye Verrado.

Players to watch

Randi Allen, Jr., MF/D, Gilbert Higley

Jessica Barton, Sr., MF, Surprise Willow Canyon

Jorian Baucom, Jr., F, Phoenix Pinnacle

Elena Bauer, Sr., MF, Tucson Rincon

Mackenzie Brown, So., F, Flagstaff Coconino

Kelsey Cartwright, Sr., MF, Tempe Corona del Sol

Katie Clemmons, Sr., D, Scottsdale Chaparral

Shannon Costello, Sr., MF, Gilbert Campo Verde

Jemma Cota, Sr., MF, Gilbert

Chloe Cox, Sr., MF, Tucson Catalina

Anyssa Dagnino, Sr., F, Tucson Sahuaro

Katherine Davidson, Sr., D, Flagstaff

Anne Day, Jr., MF, Gilbert Higley

Jaden DeGracie, Sr., MF, Gilbert Highland

Sam DeMarco, Sr., GK, Gilbert Perry

Courtney Dockery, So., F, Tanque Verde

Michaela Dooley, Sr., F, Phoenix Xavier Prep

Jennifer Douthitt, Sr., F/D, Glendale Cactus

Alyssa Emig, Jr., MF, Buckeye Verrado

Morgan Frank, Sr., MF/F, Yuma Catholic

Angelica Gonzalez, Sr., GK, Tucson Palo Verde

Olivia Gran, Sr., F, Scottsdale Desert Mountain

Nikki Griffith, Sr., MF, Glendale Cactus

Ashley Hatch, Sr., F, Gilbert Highland

Bliss Hickman, Jr., D, Goodyear Estrella Foothills

Taylor Huff, Jr., MF, Goodyear Estrella Foothills

Jessica Ingstrum, Sr., D, Chandler Seton Catholic

Megan Irgens, Jr., F, Bullhead City Mohave

Madison Irwin, Sr., F, Tucson Catalina

Evelyn John, Jr., F/MF, Glendale Copper Canyon

Rachel Jones, Jr., D, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep

Justene Kesterson, Sr., F/MF, Marana Mountain View

Missy Kettelkamp, Sr., D, Phoenix Pinnacle

Maddie Kmetko, Jr., MF, Phoenix Pinnacle

Taylor Kruse, Jr., MF, Tucson Palo Verde

Amanda Lane, So., D, Phoenix Xavier Prep

Taylor Layton, Sr., F, Avondale Agua Fria

Shannon Lewis, Jr., D, Avondale Westview

Jessica Lynn, Sr., D, Queen Creek

Jazmarie Mader, Sr., F, Chandler Basha

Ashley March, Sr., GK, Gilbert Highland

Madalyn Markham, So., F, Prescott

Jessica Mazza, So., D, Tanque Verde

Taylor McClelland, So., F, Sahuarita

Meg McDowell, Jr., MF, Gilbert Campo Verde

Amber Measley, Jr., MF, Tucson Catalina Foothills

Cassie Miller, Sr., GK, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows

Kylie Miniefield, So., F, Chandler Hamilton

Paige Morris, Sr., D, Gilbert Highland

Danielle Muniz, Sr., MF/D, Scottsdale Chaparral

Kemrie Nash, Sr., GK, Peoria Sunrise Mountain

Jessica Nelson, So., F/D, Tucson Ironwood Ridge

Irma Nino, Sr., MF, Scottsdale Coronado

Breanna Olsen, Sr., MF, Gilbert Campo Verde

Andrea Ortiz, Jr., MF/D, Glendale Sandra Day O’Connor

Adrianna Orozco, So., MF, Buckeye Verrado

Kellie Peay, Jr., D, Phoenix Xavier Prep

Brittany Perez, Sr., MF, Scottsdale Saguaro

Hannah Peterson, Jr., F, Mesa Dobson

Kelsey Reade, Sr., F/D, Chandler Valley Christian

Madison Reisdorf, Sr., F, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep

Rachel Ressler, Sr., F, Phoenix Desert Vista

Alexis Roberts, Sr., F, Chandler

Maya Salas, Jr., F, Mesa Mountain View

Breanna Sage, Sr., GK, Tempe McClintock

Sydney Schroeder, Sr., MF, Mesa Red Mountain

Holli Schuitema, Jr., MF, Phoenix Northwest Christian

Shannon Shields, Sr., F/MF, Tucson Sabino

Jasmine Simmons, Jr., F, Tucson Sahuaro

Emily Slick, Jr., D, Goodyear Estrella Foothills

Kahri Smith, Jr., GK, Fountain Hills

Kelly Smith, Jr., F, Goodyear Verrado

Madison Smith, Sr., F, Gilbert Williams Field

Lindy Snyder, Sr., MF, Gilbert Highland

Jasmine Stokes, Sr., F, Tucson Palo Verde

Asia Suarez, Sr., MF, Sierra Vista Buena

Kylee Taylor, Jr., MF/F, Glendale Raymond S. Kellis

Liz Valenzuela, Sr., MF, Tucson Salpointe Catholic

Reggie Van Devender, So., F, Chandler Seton Catholic

Nichole Walts, Jr., MF, Phoenix Xavier Prep

Kelly Watson, Sr., MF, Phoenix Desert Vista

Katy Yanconne, Sr., D, Phoenix North Canyon

Chanel Yarbrough, Sr., D, Glendale Raymond S. Kellis

Alexa Yardley, So., F, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows

Yesenia Zavala, Sr., MF/F/D, Glendale Apollo


More USA TODAY High School Sports