Coach: Harry Rasmussen
Key returning players: Jasmine Fry, sr.; Sydney Schoepke, sr.; Jennifer Cobana, sr.; Sara Brooks, jr.; Sianna Condon, jr.; Syverine Abrahamson, soph.; Lacey Scalzi, sr.; Alex Drathman, jr.; Staraya McKinstry, jr.; Nikki Fry, jr.; Alexis Hanson, sr.; Lacey Wickline, jr.; Kellie Gates, jr.; Crystal Stapel, sr.
Key newcomers: none.
Outlook: "We feel like we're strong at every point," Rasmussen said. "It will be crucial for us to make the transition through midfield from defense to offense. If we can do that, we'll be dangerous."
While the Mariners lost several good players to graduation, they appear to have been able to fill those holes without breaking stride. Jasmine Fry returns to the net after spending last year as an exchange student in Chile, while Schoepke, Cobana and Brooks line up across the back.
Rasmussen is looking at both Abrahamson and Condon at the sweeper position.
"I'm happy with both of them," Rasmussen said. "I'm confident in the defense, and with a strong defense we can put a lot of pressure on at the offensive end of the field."
Scalzi, Drathman and McKinstry will play in the midfield, while Nikki Fry, Hanson, Wickline and Abrahamson will see time at forward. Gates has been converted to midfield, and has played well there this spring, and Stapel will be the first defender off the bench.
"We can battle with anybody," Rasmussen said.
Coach: Dan Verkuilen
Assistant: Tim Peterson
Returning players: Stephanie Arbelovsky, sr.; Cory Hershberger, sr.; SaraBeth Krein, sr.; Jennifer Stewart, sr.; Alesha Anderson, sr.; Kristi Knudsen, sr.; Lacey Wisniewski, sr.; Lindsey Mida, sr.; Jessi Reilly, jr.; Jamie Montgomery, so.; Catherine Amen, so.; Wendy Wiles, so.
Newcomers: Rachel Popp, so.; Karli Knudsen, so.; Amy Fischer, so.; Kirsten Ehrhardt, so.; Rachel Knowles, fr.
Outlook: The Kardinals are brimming with experience, and Verkuilen is hoping to see them pull things together to claim a spot in the inaugural state tournament.
"There's a little more leadership with the maturity and the numbers of seniors," Verkuilen said. "This is a stronger, driven team. They're all excited. They all think they have a chance to be top three in the region."
Hershberger and Krein will wear the captains' arm bands for the Kardinals, while Arbelovsky returns after winning all-region honors as a goalkeeper last season.
Sophomore Jamie Montgomery also was an all-region player last season.
Kenai starts off with a trip to the Valley to face Wasilla and Palmer next Wednesday and Thursday, then it's a tour of the peninsula for the rest of the season.
"We'll be running around here 'til the dust settles," Verkuilen said.
Coach: Richard Kelso
Key returning players: Joy Carr, so.; Laura Covich, jr.; Naomi Bakk; Sabrina Johns; April Loftstedt, so.; Amanda Weaver, so.; Kessie Thomson; Aurora Zinck.
Outlook: With the loss of several players to graduation, many of Kelso's returning players will find themselves pushing into new territory this season.
"There's a few changes. Some defensive players will be moving into the midfield," Kelso said.
Carr will play on the left flank while Covich, Loftstedt, Thomson and Zinck will hold down the midfield. Johns will play on the right wing while Bakk will be a threat to score from her forward position.
"We've always had a problem scoring goals, so we've been working on shooting, and getting into position to shoot," Kelso said.
Though many of the players on the Bulldogs roster are underclassmen, Kelso said they have all had plenty of game experience.
"A lot of girls coming through get fairly good experience early on," Kelso said.
Nikiski will be a difficult squad for any team to get past.
"We think of ourselves as not an easy team to play against," Kelso said.
Coach: Karol Fink
Key returning players: Christine Clark, sr.; Kristy Regis, so.; Jamie Fredrickson, so.; Hannah Seigel, sr.; Nicole Burnard, sr.; Jena Estes, sr.
Key newcomers: Miranda Mahle, fr.; Erin McDonald, fr.
Outlook: Fink has a good blend of veterans and rookies to work with in Seward.
Estes will see plenty of action in net, while Fredrickson will split time between the goal and the forward line. Clark will patrol the center of the park.
Fink has been impressed with Regis' technical ability and is looking forward to seeing Mahle and McDonald on the pitch.
Coach: Tony Lewis
Key returning players: Karie Dudley, sr.; Ailis Vann, jr.; Autumn Thurmond, sr.; Katie Kier, jr.; Courtney Kier, jr.; Shannon Encelewski, sr.; Beth Massey, jr.; Megan Lyons, jr.
Key newcomers: Katie Verba, so.; Jeni Merckes, jr.; April Friedly, jr.; Laura Endries, sr.
Outlook: While the Panthers roster has a healthy portion of upperclassmen, Lewis has just a few starters returning from last year's team.
"We're pretty new and pretty green," Lewis said. "It's still too early to tell, but I've been impressed with the way the kids have been able to stay focused through three weeks in the gym. I think this team will be physically and mentally tougher than past teams."
Lewis will be relying on last year's role players to become major contributors this season.
"There's a lot of kids that don't have a lot of playing time that will be getting a lot of playing time," Lewis said.
Coach: Katie Tongue
Key returning players: Danielle Kerrone, jr.; Liz Minnich, jr.; Draya Lafleur, jr.
Key newcomers: Jenn Sennette, fr.; Erin Wolfe, fr.; Amy Brakefield, fr.; Jenny Carpenter, fr.; Sam Penner, fr.; Jamie Beever, fr.
Outlook: Tongue has three experienced players across the back in Kerrone, Minnich and Lafleur, and a talented freshman class that is already meshing well.
"We have nice, cohesive group," Tongue said. "It's definitely a step up from last year, though I'm sure everybody's seeing improvement."
Sennette and Wolfe have shown nice creativity with their passing game, and Tongue is excited with the skill level she sees in Brakefield, Carpenter and Beever.
"We'll win our share and lose our share," Tongue said. "We should definitely be able to give every team a good game."
Coach: Charlie Stewart
Key returning players: Brian Craine, sr.; Kyle Hofseth, sr.; Bo Calhoun, sr.; Matt Creamer, sr.; Corey Blanchard, sr.; Aren Callahan, sr.; Russell Kuipers, jr.; Nathaniel Brooks, sr.
Key newcomer: Richie Crum, sr.
Outlook: After losing 14 players to graduation, the Mariners don't have many players with a ton of varsity experience, but first-year coach Stewart likes what he has to work with.
"It's a hard-working bunch of guys," Stewart said. "Call us a blue collar team. These guys really like to play. They're eager, they listen and they learn real fast."
Stewart said that most of his A team saw a few varsity minutes here and there last season, something he'd like to see change this season.
"I'd like to work in some more swing players from junior varsity to give them more varsity experience than the juniors got last year," Stewart said.
Newcomer Crum will fill up the net, while Craine, Hofseth and Calhoun will wear the captains' arm bands.
"They're a real team -- they kind of rely on each other," Stewart said. "Everybody fits in like they're supposed to."
Coach: Dave Landry
Assistant coach: Peter Ehrhardt
Key returning players: Sean Nuccio, sr.; Joel Reemtsma, sr.; Cesar Lopez, sr.; Greg Landua, jr.; Devon Anderson, jr.; Ross Baldwin, jr.; J.D. Pault, so.; Wally Ward, so.;
Key newcomers: Marcus Webster, so.; Gresham Oliver, jr.; Owen Brewer, fr.; Sam Steiner, so.; Steve Steiner, fr.; Brian Gabriel Jr., so.
Outlook: The Kardinals take great pride in building from the back forward -- starting with a solid keeper in Nuccio, a versatile field player in Reemtsma and a talented striker in Lopez.
"Kenai teams always seem to be strong defensively," Landry said. "We like to think we build from the back forward, and incorporate speed wherever we can.
"I don't think it's any mystery that we emphasize goalkeeping."
Landry has what he calls a "good core group" of players back from last season. Though the Kardinals are thin in the upperclass ranks, Landry has been impressed with the sophomores and freshman that turned out for the team.
"We're going to be a young team," Landry said. "We try, little by little and year by year, to improve, and we're seeing that in the freshman class. There's guys that played just a couple seasons ago that wouldn't be able to play now -- the game's getting that much better."
Coach: Jim Coburn
Returning players: Frank Gonzalez, sr.; Gerrad Bowlin, sr.; Jamie Queen, sr.; Jonus Angleton, sr.; Omar Thompson, sr.; Seth Tauriainen, jr.; Dan Gerhauser, jr.; Quincy Bird, jr.; Kyle Alexander, so.; Nigel Penhale, so.; Ryan Crumpacker, so.; Chris Roofe, jr.; Steven Calderwood, so.; Brandon Huhndorf, so.
Newcomers: Felix Euler, sr.; Josh Reilly, so.; Ian Mellburg, so.; Chris McCaughey, so.; Gabe Lavigueur, so.; Jason Gerke, so.; Todd Brigham, so.; Travis Anderson, jr.; Josh Winters, fr.; John Rooper, fr.; Joe Wicker, fr.; Nathan Smith, fr.; Rustin Hitchcock, fr.; Josh Pepper, fr.; Brad Harrison, fr.; James Broussard, sr.; Jeff Bitterich, jr.; Travis Schreiner, so.; Jon Gennari, fr.; Ray Grimm, fr.; Jacoby Angleton, fr.; Makenzie Jorgenson, so.; Kevin Gerke, fr.; Corey Grimm, fr.; Richard Hilleary, fr.; Jake Sanders, jr.; Jacob Zundel, fr.; Chris Overhuls, so.; Chris Parrish, fr.; Robert Chancey, so.; Travis Little, fr.
Outlook: Coburn sees improvement in the Bulldogs every year, and this season is no exception.
"For a lot of players, this is their third year, not their first," Coburn said. "Experience plays a part, and younger kids are coming having already played Boys and Girls Club soccer for several seasons."
The Bulldogs start with Queen minding the woodwork and then build out from there.
Angleton, Tauriainen, Alexander, and Huhndorf will play on the back line while Gerhauser, Bird, Penhale, Crumpacker, Roofe and Calderwood will see time in the midfield.
Gonzalez, Bowlin and Thompson will run up top for the Bulldogs.
Coburn had 46 players out for soccer this season, but the trick will be getting them all touches on the ball.
"Our strength this year would be numbers," Coburn said. "Having fields to play on would be my only concern. I don't see any weaknesses this year, but we need enough fields to play on to get everybody into the game."
Coach: Marvin Tapsfield
Key returning players: Luke Walker, sr.; Luke Davis, jr.; Brian Higbee, sr.; Tom Buchanan, jr.; Bobby Ferguson, sr.; Ty Stone, sr.; Ryan Wolfe, sr.; Andrew Dixon, so.; Don Lands, sr.; Jake Elhard, jr.
Key newcomers: Michael Gunther, sr.; Keith Wolfe, fr.
Outlook: Tapsfield expects his squad's experience to show on the field.
"We're looking better than we have over the past two years in terms of experience and knowledge," Tapsfield said. "With that comes a better understanding of what to do with the ball. We'll be more of a thinking team."
Tapsfield has a solid goalkeeper in Walker, while the defensive quartet of Davis, Higbee, Buchanan and Ferguson gives the Seahawks a good backline to build from.
Ryan Wolfe is a strong player and German exchange student Gunther has found a home running up top beside Elhard.
Dixon will see some time at forward while Lands will be helping out on defense.
Coach: Dave Carpenter
Key returning players: Dan Rich, sr.; Dorian Heatherly, sr.; Chris Hodel, sr.; Ty Edward, jr.; Jake Fellman, jr.
Key newcomers: Josh Rowell, so.; Aspen Marlin, sr.; Chad Moore, jr.
Outlook: Carpenter will have his strongest players in the center of the park this season. Rich will move to sweeper, where he's demonstrated the ability to direct traffic; Heatherly will run things in the center midfield position and Hodel will be a frontrunner for the Panthers this season.
Carpenter also sees serious playing time for Edward and Fellman, both of whom gave the Panthers a lift off the bench last season.
Carpenter said he has two players competing for a spot in net: senior Aspen Marlin and junior Chad Moore.
"We'll have to wait 'til we get outside to see who gets it," Carpenter said.
Carpenter said he has been impressed with his team's overall fitness and athleticism.
Coach: John Bramante
Assistant coaches: Stan Histand, Paul Gauthier
Key returning players: Shaun Williams, jr.; Anthony Murray, so.; Ben Histand, so.; Lucas Petersen, so.; J.R. Zufelt, jr.; James McCoy, sr.; Pero Dalkovsky, sr.; Justin Thompson, sr.; Brian Stogsdill, sr.; Tim Joseph, sr.; Lee Green, sr.; Aaron Sparks, sr.; Mack Reynolds, sr.; Josh Gemmell, jr.; Sam King, sr.
Key newcomer: Edgar Ruiz; so.
Outlook: Bramante is facing the one of those dilemmas every coach would love to have -- how to fit in all the talented players he has on the roster.
"We're pretty deep. We have way more talent than we had before," Bramante said. "They're all good players. My B team this year could beat my A team from two years ago."
Joseph gets the nod in net, though he may be spelled from time to time by Green, fresh off his Junior A hockey stint Outside.
Williams, Murray and Histand will run up top while Petersen and Zufelt will see action in the midfield flanking Ruiz, who Bramante called the team's most skilled player. Gemmell and King also are capable midfielders.
McCoy, Dalkovsky, Thompson and Stogsdill make up Soldotna's backline. Sparks and Reynolds will be counted on for contributions.
"I just can't get over how good this team is," Bramante said. "This is far and away the best team I've coached, but there's no assurances that will translate into success, because the whole league takes a quantum leap forward every year."
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