MURFREESBORO – Rutherford County’s two Class AAA sectionals participants last season – Oakland and Siegel – return as the two favorites in District 7-AAA this season.
Below is The Daily News Journal’s 2014 area girls soccer primer, including players to watch, key matches and The DNJ’s preseason power poll.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
• Natalie Escobar, La Vergne, senior: Four-year starter considering offers from Alabama A&M and Memphis.
• Sierra Franz, Smyrna, senior: Scored 13 goals in only a half-season last year.
• A.B. Hawkins, Oakland, junior: Scored 23 goals to go with 12 assists last season.
• Madison Louk, Siegel, junior: Will play all three levels of team’s attack.
• Kaitlyn Watson, Stewarts Creek, freshman: Scored two goals in her first preseason scrimmage against Brentwood this fall.
• Megan Woods, Blackman, senior: 2013 7-AAA offensive player of year scored 23 goals.
• Mackenzie Wrather, Smyrna, junior: Coupled with Franz, Warther give Lady Bulldogs one of best attacks in the area.
• Katie Bain, Stewarts Creek, sophomore: First team all-district players a season ago.
• Savannah Berry, Central Magnet, senior: Scored a team-high eight goals after missing half the season because of injury.
• Maddie Falter, Riverdale, junior: Aggressive, offensive-minded midfielder.
• Lauren Jennings, MTCS, junior: Center midfielder is school’s all-time leader in assists.
• Colleen Kennedy, Blackman, senior: Returning 7-AAA midfielder of the year scored eight goals and tallied 12 assists.
• Madeline Rose, Oakland, senior: Scored nine goals and added 11 assists last season.
• Callie Ruf, Siegel, junior: Second team DNJ all-area member last season.
• Emma Grace Goldman, Oakland, junior: Returning 7-AAA goalkeeper of year and a 2013 all-state selection.
• Madison Hochstetler, Oakland, junior: Second team DNJ all-area member last season.
• Jenna Mullen, Central Magnet, senior: Played every minute of every game in 2013, while scoring seven goals and three assists.
• Jadea Sanford, La Vergne, senior: Lady Wolverines captain is a four-year starter.
• Rachel Starrett, Riverdale, senior: Top defender for Lady Warriors.
• Cori Steinagle, Siegel, senior: Returns to help Louk anchor a defense that allowed three district goals last year.
DNJ PRESEASON POWER POLL
1. OAKLAND – 2013 Class AAA state tournament participant returns talented juniors A.B. Hawkins and Emma Grace Goldman to anchor a deep squad.
2. SIEGEL – Anchored by a strong defense, Lady Stars are motivated by a loss to Cookeville in the Class AAA sectionals last season.
3. SMYRNA – Led by UT-Martin commitment Sierra Franz, the Lady Bulldogs could be the most-attacking team in the area.
4. STEWARTS CREEK – Dubbed the “surprise team” by multiple opposing area coaches. Junior Katie Bain was an all-district performer a year ago.
5. BLACKMAN – Megan Woods and Colleen Kennedy anchor a young team that’s likely to feature five freshmen on the field some of the time.
6. CENTRAL MAGNET – Seven seniors will anchor a Lady Tigers’ team with aspirations of its first Class A/AA sectionals berth.
7. RIVERDALE – Former Siegel High standout Anna Grace Gerhart takes over as head coach for a young Lady Warriors team.
8. LA VERGNE – Four-year starters Natalie Escobar and Jadea Sanford anchor a team with 11 seniors.
9. MTCS – Lady Cougars and their all-time leading assist leader (Lauren Jennings) face uphill battle in tough District 9-A/AA.
• Franklin at Siegel, Aug. 28 – Early test for SHS against 2013 Class AAA semifinalist.
• Chattanooga Christian Tournament, Aug. 29-30 – Central Magnet gets regular season opportunity against postseason powers.
• Siegel at Ravenwood, Sept. 4 – Lady Raptors were the 2013 AAA runner-up.
• Siegel at Houston, Sept. 11 – Stars will play national power during a Memphis tournament.
• Tournament of Champions, Sept. 11-13 – Smyrna is only local participant.
• Cleveland Tournament, Sept. 12-13 – Oakland, Blackman will take on some of state’s best.
• Smyrna at Oakland, Sept. 18 – Two of district’s better teams in action.
• Smyrna at Siegel, Sept. 25 – Great offense vs. great defense highlights late-season clash.
• Siegel at Oakland, Oct. 2 –Only regular season matchup of 7-AAA’s top two teams.
• Stewarts Creek at Smyrna, Oct. 2 – Tournament seeding and bragging rights on the line in North Rutherford.