Pennridge might have lost 11 seniors off last fall’s District 1-4A finalist and PIAA quarterfinalist teams, but the Rams expect to be in the mix again this year.
The feeling is a common one across the Reporter/Times-Herald/Montgomery coverage area’s girls soccer teams. Almost every team saw the departure of some critical players, but the talent pool is deep enough that most teams still have plenty of capable players to work with.
There’s a reason college coaches love to pull from this area to fill their rosters and it’s because there’s more than enough quality to go around.
In the case of the Rams, Pennridge will have strong spine starting with junior keeper Mary Kate Levush, with senior defender Courtney Supp and senior midfielder Caroline Thomson making up the middle portion and finishing up top with junior striker Kouri Peace. Coach Audrey Anderson also has a score of players who saw plenty of bench minutes last season ready to take on larger roles.
The Philadelphia Catholic League championship game came down to a dramatic overtime goal that handed Archbishop Wood the win over Lansdale Catholic and both sides bring plenty back to the fold. Wood, with assistant Dan Finello taking over for longtime coach Bill Cappo, has high-scoring forward Lauren Ruth back as a junior plus a strong defense anchored by Erin Welsh, Leah Brzezicki and Caitlyn Cliggett.
LC’s all-time leading scorer Kate Henesey is back for one last run along with classmates Rose Stella, Sarah Cooney and Gabby Quattrone as the Crusaders will be looking to claim a title they’ve fallen agonizingly short of the last few seasons.
Souderton, which has made tremendous growth the last two seasons, will try to take the next step in the postseason with a much-different looking defense. Stalwarts like keeper Vivian Feliciani, Sara Cassel, Sam Plinke and Emily Readinger are gone in the back, but the Indians have a solid attack back led by seniors Tori Dowd, Bre DiRenzi and Cara McCausland and juniors Sara Readiner and Allie Trick.
The Suburban One League American was turned on its head by the arrival of Quakertown when the Panthers took the perch out from under the Upper Dublin Cardinals and claimed the league title. Q-town will still be formidable, but UD has plenty of key pieces back starting up top with junior striker Sizzy Lawton, midfielders Tori Hoffner and Tina Haig, defender Sascha Keitz and senior keeper Devon Jones.
Wissahickon will have its work cut out trying to replace the offensive impact of Maddie Elwell (Vanderbilt) and her 27 goals from last season. The Trojans also have to replace several other crucial players but have a solid senior defender in Anna Wilde and speedy midfielder Alexis Smith back in the fold.
In the AACA, Gwynedd Mercy Academy and Mount Saint Joseph will have some re-tooling to do. Both teams graduated impact players, but each has a core of underclassmen who have proven capable of playing big minutes.
Abington and Cheltenham didn’t see much success in 2016, but Ghosts junior Cam Lexow is one of the most talented players in the SOL, having verbally committed to Virginia while Panthers senior keeper Eliana Weiler’s ability is well-known among SOL coaches.
2016 Record: 6-11-0 (4-8-0 SOL National).
Head Coach: Rick Thompkins.
Players to Watch: M/F Cam Lexow (Jr), F Casey Touey, F Kailey Horton, D Isabelle Mugnier.
Outlook: After making the postseason in 2015, the Ghosts missed the postseason last fall with a rebuilding side.. Lexow has verbally pledged to Virginia and will have to be a creator and scorer for Abington. Hopper had some good showings in net but will need to do it more consistently in the National
2016 Record: 6-9.
Head Coach: Jay Scheets.
Key Players Lost: Avery Webster, Kara Brownlie, Jade Young.
Key Returns: Sr Sierra Granata, Sr. Ruth Bekele, Jr. Claire Rosenwinkel, Jr. Paige Osborne Jr. Isabelle Newman.
Players to Watch: Alex Kiernan, GK Clare Robinson.
Outlook: “We will strive on keeping a strong competitive nature and staying confident against tough opponents. With a young group of girls this 2017 varsity soccer season at Abington Friends, we hope to build into being a top team in the Friends league. New assistant coaches Lizzy Bolger and Lexie Bowman will be a solid addition in guiding this team to even more success.”
2016 Record: 14-7-1 (9-2 PCL).
Head Coach: Dan Finello.
Notable Losses: Sofia Filippo (St. Joseph’s), Kylie Menarde, Meghan Hennessey.
Players to Watch: D Caitlyn Cliggett, F Lauren Ruth, D Erin Welsh, M Paige Sellers, D Leah Brzezicki, M Kasey McCormick, M Liz McCloud.
Outlook: “The Vikings have eight returning starters from a team that won Philadelphia Catholic League and District 12 titles. They are a veteran team with lots of juniors and seniors who are experienced in post-season play. The team has displayed a very positive attitude and is keenly aware it will have to play its best each game to return to the playoffs.”
CENTRAL BUCKS WEST
2016 Record: 5-13 (0-12 SOL Continental).
Head Coach: Chris Fehrle.
Notable Players Lost: Mary Kate Vinkler, Camryn Albrecht, Jenny Sutorious.
Key Returning Players: Allie Walsh, Sam Lubin, Grace Powers.
Other Players to Watch: Trish Hauck, Emily Hackett, Kieran Shifler, Alex Craine, Meg Gallagher, Tori Albrecht.
Outlook: “Great group of cohesive girls that are coming together nicely in the pre-season, have very strong leadership that will hopefully lead us back to the post-season. Our schedule both in conference and out of conference is very difficult so the girls will need to be hitting on all cylinders by the beginning of the season.”
2016 Record: 0-16 (0-11 SOL American).
Head Coach: Mark Woodcock.
Players to Watch: GK Eliana Weiler (Sr), D Jade Turner, D Zoe Moreland.
Outlook: The Panthers will have an almost brand-new look after graduating 10 seniors and will be counting on a number of rising JV players and freshmen as the season goes on. Weiler is an excellent keeper and coach Mark Woodcock sees plenty of speed and game IQ in his players. The challenge will be how quickly the Panthers can get used to the pace and strength of their competition.
2016 Record: 4-10-3 (4-2-3).
Head Coach: Ray Hess.
Key Losses: Mia Bevilaqua, Megan Swintosky.
Players to Watch: M Brooke Bozarth, Jackie Halteman, Mikalya Frederick, Abigail Nice, McKenzie Gordon, McKenzie Swartly, Audrey Schweizerhof
Outlook: “We will be looking to improve our record from last year. We will strive to make the district final. Players want to learn and improve.”
2016 Record: 17-8- 2.
Head Coach: Chris Nelson.
Notable Players Lost: Brynn Skelly and Emily Williams.
Key Returning Players: Mac Pluck, Bailey Gilmore, Annie Peterson, Rachael Villari, and Nicole Marion.
Other Players to Watch: Ally Clark, Katie Hackley and Riley Axenroth.
Outlook: “We aim to complete for an Inter-Ac title and to make another run at the PAISAA State Championship.”
GWYNEDD MERCY ACADEMY
2016 Record: 9-9.
Head Coach: Derik Stover.
Notable Losses: Kim Stanford (East Carolina), Shea Tomlinson (Drexel), Meghan Corso (Catholic).
Key Returning Players: Bridget Casey, Carly Heinemann, Cailin Panacek.
Players to Watch: Payton Palazzo, Emma Fiore, Grace Hirschmann, Emily Meenan, Bella Freer, Sarah White.
Outlook: “With key returning players, our young team will be looking to build on our last year’s run. The team is working hard to make another run at the playoffs.”
2016 Record: 8-7-3 (7-4-3).
Head Coach: Ike Onyeador.
Notable Losses: Miranda Royds-GK (Graduation), Lauren Kim-Def (Graduation), Emma Roesing-Mid (Academy), Ali Hontz-F (Graduation).
Key Returners: M Erica Paluszek; F Madalyn Falcione.
Players to Watch: M Maggie O’Neill (Fr).
Outlook: “Though missing some key pieces, the focus of the team is to make the post-season, so everyone is working to raise their level in order to meet that goal. If key players can be consistently impactful, and young players can raise themselves to a new level, then we possibly could meet that goal.”
2016 Record: 17-3-1 (10-1-0 PCL).
Head Coach: Tom O’Donnell.
Notable Losses: Cailey Maxwell, Lena Staropoli, Erin O’Sullivan, and Colbie Cummings.
Key Returning Players: F Kate Henesey, M Rose Stella, F Hannah Schumate, D Sarah Cooney.
Players to Watch: Sarah Fitzpatrick, Kiera O’Sullivan.
Outlook: “There will be a number of new starters this season, but everyone on the roster has a good deal of playing experience. The outlook for this season is to finally win the PCL championship game and advance to states.”
2016 Record: 14-2.
Head Coach: Jack Kilroy.
Notable Losses: Jordyn Cohen.
Players to Watch: Allison Asmann, Brianna Costa, Ceili Courduff, Emily Douris, Melanie Goldstein, Miah Gomez, Yasmine Machlof, Kayla O’Malley, Gianna Penecale, Rebecca Scoll.
Outlook: The Lions return a significant amount of starters, experience and talent from their BAL championship side last season. Jack Kilroy takes over for his first season leading LM as the team looks to get over the hump in the district playoffs and contend for a state playoff bid.
MOUNT SAINT JOSEPH
2016 Record: 9-11.
Head Coach: Bill Nayden.
Notable Losses: Angela Gervasi (Ursinus); Ashley Pyne (La Salle); Maddie Finnegan (Farleigh-Dickinson).
Returning Players: D Maddie, M/F Grace DiGiovanni, M Liana Alcaro (midfielder), F Madison Hornig, as well as four other full-time starters from last year.
Outlook: “Our goals for this season are to win as many of the key league games as possible this year to place as high in the league as we can, and to get a high seed in districts, host games, and get as far as we can in the tournament. We have a hard-working and talented group of players who are working as hard as they can in preseason to prepare for the season ahead.”
2016 Record: 7-11 (4-8 SOL Continental).
Head Coach: Steve Whitby.
Outlook: “New day, new attitude, new expectation, new formation(s) new set pieces, new uniforms. I am here to help the ladies make NPHS women’s soccer relevant again. I can say after a week of camp and a week of two a days we are ‘closer’ to playing the game the right way.”
2016 Record: 20-3-1 (10-1-1 SOL Continental).
Head Coach: Audrey Anderson.
Players to Watch: D Courtney Supp, M Caroline Thomson, GK Mary Kate Levush, F Abby Groff.
Outlook: The Rams were driven by their 11 seniors last season, winning the SOL Continental, advancing to the District I final and the second round of states. It’s up to a new group of players to try and build off last season, led by co-captains Supp and Thomson. Pennridge has a large junior class, many of whom saw major minutes as reserves last season.
2016 Record: 8-10 (7-7 SOL American).
Head Coach: Ryan Zehren.
Notable Loses: Ragan Ebersole.
Key Returning Players: Alyse Caffrey, Victoria Betterly, Ali Diamond.
Players to Watch For: Sarah Putsch, Natalie Lannie, Ava Schreiber.
Outlook: “To continue building on last year’s successes and aim to reach the playoffs.”
2016 Record: 10-5-3 (8-2-2 SOL Continental).
Head Coach: Chris Felber.
Notable Losses: Sara Cassel, Emily Readinger.
Key Returning Players: M Sara Readinger (Jr),F Taylor Moritz (Sr), M Aleia Kramer (Sr), F Allie Trick (Jr), F Tori Dowd (Sr), M Hannah Croll (Sr), F Cara McCausland (Sr), M Bre Direnzi (Sr).
Others to Watch: D Hannah Kramer (Sr),D Kaile Harwick (Jr), D Cambel Power (Jr).
Outlook: “Most our mids and attackers all return providing us a lot of stability. We are aiming to finish top 8 of district rankings and earn a bye into next round of playoffs.”
2016 Record: 3-15-0 (2-11-1 SOL American).
Head Coach: Suzette Wolf.
Notable Players Lost: M Emily Giampietro, GK Fitzpatrick.
Key Returning Players: D Lindsey Smith, F Sarah Potocki.
Outlook: “The girls have come to preseason training ready to work hard and improve on last season. We have a very competitive schedule once again this season but with great desire, hard work and intensity we believe our seaon record will improve from last year.”
2016 Record: 9-7-1.
Head Coach: Bob Opalka.
Outlook: “We have 12 seniors on this year’s team, 11 of whom were on the team last year. We will be relying on our seniors to lead this group. Our goals are simple – we want to have a better position than the mid-table result we had last year in the AACA. We also want to win the AA state championship.”
2016 Record: 12-6-1 (10-3-1 SOL American).
Head Coach: John Topper.
Players to Watch: M Tori Hoffner, GK Devon Jones, M Lindsey Schreiber, M Tina Haig, F Sizzy Lawton.
Outlook: After a slow start, the Cardinals finished second in the SOL American and made the District I playoffs. With a lot of pieces back, UD has the foundation to challenge Quakertown for the conference title while also facing some stiff out-of-conference matches to prepare for the postseason.
2016 Record: 5-11-2 (4-9-1 SOL American).
Head Coach: Lisa Benvenuto.
Key Players: D Carly Wasson (Sr), M Sarah Veneziale (Jr), D Maddie Gerlach (Jr), F Alexis Lamb (So), M Madison Zachweija (So).
Outlook: With the newly furnished turf field opening last week at Upper Moreland, the Bears will be looking to improve their speed of play and maintaining a home field advantage on their new surface. With only five returning upper classmen, the young Bears will be looking to make an impact in the SOL American league. We have been working hard and are looking forward to being competitive at both the varsity and junior varsity levels this season. The Bears will need to focus on their finishing in the offensive third, and maintaining possession within the midfield.
2016 Record: 5-12-0 (2-10 SOL Continental).
Head Coach: William Hontz.
Notable Players Lost: Kyla Gibson, Erin Thompson, Lauriel Krouse.
Key Returning Players: M Nikki Reh (Sr), D Liz Layer (So), F Olivia Miller (So), F Caroline Weir (Fr), F Gabby Sowers (Fr).
Outlook: “We have a lot of young talent on the team that is very exciting to see with the energy that they bring to the field. We look to build on last years wins and make the playoffs. We are in a very tough division and when you look at the teams that make up 12 of our games it is challenging, but we are up for the challenge.”
2016 Record: 14-5-1 (10-3-1 SOL American).
Head Coach: Shannon Creamer-Franke.
Notable Losses: Maddie Elwell (Vanderbilt), Jasmine Bishop, Nikki Hastings, Rachel Coleman, Mary Matthews, Emily Vervlied.
Players to Watch: F Carly Amato, D Anna Wilde, F Lauren Elwell, M Alexis Smith.
Outlook: The Trojans graduated a big senior core after back-to-back seasons with a district playoff win. Replacing Maddie Elwell’s 63 career goals, including 27 last year, won’t be easy and neither will filling the other departed seniors’ roles. Amato and Lauren Elwell both showed flashes last year while Wilde will anchor and rebuilt back line with poise and composure in her defending.