There are several local teams to watch out for when teams hit the pitch for the 2013 girls’ soccer season.
Pennfield has improved in each of its last three seasons and if the Panthers are able to keep the trend going they should see themselves near the top of the Kalamazoo Valley Association. Last year, the Panthers racked up a 12-4-1 record, good for third place in the KVA.
Lakeview expects to compete for a Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference Eastern Division title with the return of several key position players.
Harper Creek will start three freshmen, but have six returning starters to lead the way. The Beavers were not happy with the way they finished their season last year so they are eager to get back to action and show what they’re made of.
Battle Creek Central will look to improve on its 0-15-1 record with the addition of some key, new players.
Marshall may be the area’s most dangerous team. The Redhawks won a SMAC East title and a district crown under head coach Adrian Harkey last year and will be looking to take the next step toward a state championship this season.
Gull Lake returns 10 starters from a team that went 13-6-1 last year and Quincy should be strong after winning the 2013 Independent Soccer League with a 15-1-2 record.
Coach: Brad Yoder (3rd season)
Last year: 0-15-1
Top Returners: N/A
Newcomers: Sierra Fires, Cori Ivens
Outlook: “Our team is quite young and, although many gained valuable experience last year, it will be a challenging year in a very talented conference,” Yoder said. “I look at our time together last year as a strength, but view our youth as a weakness. Although we were unable to put the ball in the goal much last year I think this year we will find the back of the net, which I hope gives us an advantage in some of the close games we lost last year.”
Coach: Eric Dilno (5th season)
Last year: 4-11-4
Returners: Marianna Baird, Michaela Gilmore, Jennifer Elliston, Marissa Alvarez, Amanda Hainline, Margo Coon, Schae Brandt, Samantha Blowers, Mariah Erard
Newcomers: Megan Gwathney, Olivia Leson, Kearstin Durham, Brianna Freeburn, Jill Bammer, Tessa Hollister, Elise Christle
Outlook: The Beavers will start three freshmen this year, but have plenty of returners to lead the way. “We have six starters from last year returning so we have some experience,” Dilno said. “The returning players were not happy with the way the season went last year and will be all in for every contest. I look to our leading goal scorers from last year (Schae Brandt, Amanda Hainline) to be big up front and we can rely on our two senior defenders (Mariah Erard, Samantha Blowers) to be positive examples on how to be strong, smart players.”
Coach: Ciaran Byrne (1st season)
Last year: 8-6-4
Returners: Ashley Andrews (Sr.), Rachel Hoffman (Sr.), Madison Olsen (Jr.), Mackenzie Wilcox (Jr.), Amanda Andrews (Jr.), Rachel Prell (So.), Julia Miller (So.), Savannah Olsen (So.)
Newcomers: Rem Mawi (Sr.), Bre Greene (Jr.), Allisyn Rainwater (Jr.), Kyla MacCreery (Jr.), Maddie Noakes (So.), Allie Welsch (Jr.), Milan Morrissette (Jr.), Margarita Carrillo (Fr.), Alex Brooks (Jr.), Anna Urbance (So.), Conner Grosteffon (So.), Emma Karls (So.)
Outlook: “Although this year’s team is young, many of the younger players have significant experience and will be able to make an impact immediately at the varsity level,” Byrne said. “Many of the older players have been playing on varsity since their freshmen or sophomore year and bring valuable experience to the team. We have several girls who are capable of changing a game with their individual skills, and many girls who are ready and willing to work hard and do what it takes to produce results. The girls are very motivated and are already beginning to gel as a team. My expectation is that we will compete for the SMAC East title and will look to finish in the top half of the SMAC.”
Coach: Steve Kipp (15th season)
Last year: 12-4-1, 3rd in KVA
Returners: Hanna Boles (Sr.), midfielder, Caitlin Jackson (Sr.) defense, Elizabeth Jarrard (Sr.) forward, Morgan Launder (Sr.) midfield, Lauren Smith (Sr.) midfield, Sam Tuttle (Sr.) goalkeeper/forward, Audri Bornamann (Jr.) defense, Stormy Johnson (Jr.) defense, Maria Quispe (Jr.) midfield, Madison Rench (Jr.) forward, Bailey Shelton (Jr.) defense, Lindsey Shive (Jr.) midfield, Kayler Beech (So.) midfield
Newcomers: Montana Rench, Carlee Allred, Mariah Childress
Outlook: Elizabeth Jarrard, Hannah Boles, Lauren Smith and Bailey Shelton will lead the Panthers as captains this year. “We have most of our team back from last year, but graduated a few key positions at stopper and goal,” Kipp said. “Other girls are stepping up to fill those shoes, and we will continue to have a solid foundation of skills and attacking capabilities. The past three years has seen this team improve steadily and we will continue improving this year.”
Coach: Barbara Engelhart
Last year: Mid-South Conference champions
Returners: Rachel Engelhart, Saige Valella, Krystina Craft, Jenny Weesner, Claire Tribbett
Newcomers: Kayla Martub, Denise Penrod, Kristin Spicer, and Megan Gordon, Mai Moody
Outlook: “They are a team that shows unity,” Engelhart said. “There are always challenges, but they can be overcome. It’s not about having fun, it is about playing the game seriously, with a passion and commitment. When these are achieved, then you can celebrate and have fun. They show great faith, positive attitude, and harmony during a time when we are short on players.”
Coach: Ken Delaney (2nd season)
Last year: 4-13-2, 3-6-1 in SMAC
Top Returners: Kaitlyn Vella (Jr.) forward, Miranda Catlin (Sr.) midfielder/forward, Paige Holicki (Sr.) midfielder, Becca Harmon (Jr.) midfielder/forward, Maggie Morrison (Jr.) defender, Meghan Schorfhaar (Jr.) midfielder, Shelby Bowers (So.) goalkeeper
Top Newcomers: MacKenzie McGuire, Carlee Smoker, Alex Koch
Season Outlook: “After starting five sophomores and one freshman for most of the season last year, we have a much more mature team this year, with 11 returning varsity players,” Delaney said. “This year’s squad has good balance. Our passing game has improved steadily and we have good speed and athleticism at every position. While we struggled to score goals last year, I think the entire team has much more confidence in the offense this year. We will also be strong up the middle, from our central midfielders and defenders to our goalkeeper.”
Coach: Alan Mabie (1st season)
Last year: 17-4, 3rd in KVA
Returners: Brianna Russell (Sr.), Hannah Phommavongsa (So.), Sarah Rendon (Jr.), Jamie Risner (Sr.) Aryka Poling (Sr.), Rachel Parker (Sr.), Christi Boze (Sr.) Autumn Russell (So.), Sam Zettelmaier (Sr.) Christy Gonzalez (Sr.)
Top newcomer: Alexis Holben
Outlook: The Panthers return 10 of 11 starters and look to be in good shape for the season. “With the return of our key field players we are strong in all areas of field play,” Mabie said. “We will have one of the fastest teams in our league. Our biggest weakness will come in the filling the goalkeeper position as the keeper from last year is no longer playing. The goals for the team this year are to continue the trend of improving the season win totals, winning our conference and making a deep run in the state tournament. With this team all of these goals are within our capabilities.”
Coach: Jeff Corstange (2nd season)
Last year: 13-6-1, 5-1-1 SMAC East
Returners: Carley Rice (Sr.), Kendra Sosnoski (Sr.), Michelle Vosters (Sr.), Rachel Fouts (Jr.), Kenzie Kistner (Jr.), Morgan Nusbaum (Jr.), Sydney Nikitas (Jr.), Maggie Harma (Jr.), Tabitha Boze (Jr.), Annie Walbridge (So.), Olivia Sullivan (So.), Hayley Buckhout (So.), Rachel Busch (So.)
Newcomers: Amanda Paveltic (So.), Mikalya Hostetler (So.), Libby Vandermolen (So.), Kylie McCloughan (So.), Riley Wisser (Fr.), Kenzie Harney (Fr.), Maddie Fouts (Fr.)
Outlook: “We are returning 10 starting players from last season and adding unbelievable talent in every position,” Corstange said. “After we lost to Plainwell last year (in the district title game) we had a meeting and I told the team that this coming year is going to be their year to do something. They came into this season in the best shape than I have ever seen from a high school team and so much energy to go along with that. This team is a coach’s dream to have.”
Coach: Chris Ricketts (11th season)
Last year: 3-16
Returners: Alexis Lamance, Gretchen Hakenjos, Doey Fighter, Breanna Heinze, Emma McGlocklin
Outlook: “We are without our co-MVP returners,” Ricketts said. “We will try to get better each day.”
Coach: Adrian Harkey (6th season)
Last year: 16-5-2, SMAC East Champions, 2nd straight District Title
Returners: Katie Blank (Sr.), Bri Kalisz (Sr.), Carmen O’Dell (Sr.),Lydia Weatherly (Sr.), Lauren Feasel (Jr.), Kelsie Hicks (Jr.), Tierra Orban (Jr.), Kelsey Postema (Jr.), Sydney Reichenbaugh (Jr.), Layla Harkey (So.)
Newcomers: Kate Frazier (Jr.), Monica Lubis (Jr.), Sara Heidenreich (So.), Anyah Preston, (So.), Chelsea Tobias (So.), Tristan Tobias (So.)
Outlook: Marshall is coming off one of its most successful seasons in school history after winning its second consecutive district title and equaling a school record with 16 wins last year. “We will be relatively young with only four seniors, but we have 10 returning varsity players and we have six newcomers who all have extensive soccer experience,” Harkey said. “We have some very skilled players and we have a very good keeper in Kelsey Postema so our expectations are to continue to grow as a program. We are looking to again compete for the SMAC East championship and for another district title. As a team we have talked about taking that next step in order to compete with the top teams in the state.
Coach: Steve Peak
Last year: 3-15-1, 5th in KVA
Returners: Alexis Durham (So.) fullback, Lena Peak (Jr.) midfield/forward, Chelsea Meeker (Jr.) midfield, Katie Francisco (Jr.) fullback, Kaylyn Westlake (Sr.) forward, Jessica Griffin (Jr.) midfield, Ashli Sanders (Jr.) fullback, Caity Hines (Jr.) midfield, Maddy Collins (Sr.) goalkeeper, Gabi Degroot (So.) midfield/fullback, Elisabeth Bent (So.) midfield/fullback, Kayti Case (So.) midfield, Angelica Nelson (So.) midfield
Newcomers: Loren Westlake (Fr.), Ashley Harmison (So.), Paige Strang (So.), Amber Sanders (Fr.), Hannah Gardner (So.), Allie Kramer (Fr,)
Outlook: “With the seasoned starters and the additional players we hope to improve last year’s record and KVA performance,” Peak said. “We have a solid core of returners which will provide the leadership and guidance for a successful season.”
Coach: Tim Hart
Last year: 15-1-2 Independent Soccer League conference champions
Returners: Abby Parrish (Sr.) forward, Sara Ward (Sr.) keeper, Ashton King (Jr.) midfielder, Gaby Masson (So.) defense, Liz Counterman (So.) forward, Kelsey Bean (Jr.) defense, Alyx Harmon (Jr) defense, Alissa Bean (Sr.) forward, Kristina Moore (Jr.) midfielder, Jesse Locklin (Sr.) defense
Newcomers: Kenzie Moore (Fr), Caiylin Hines (Fr.), Angelica Sussex (Fr.), Katie Santi (Sr.) injured last year
Outlook: “Our strength is our team play,” Hart said. “We are very unselfish with the ball and we have very good speed at all positions. We will be looking to our younger players to fill key roles on the team, especially on offense. Our defense is fast and experienced. We are not deep on the bench, so our key players will be playing a lot of minutes.”