Reporter/Montgomery Girls Soccer 2015: Teams high on talent, expectations

Last year, just as the weather started to turn toward winter, Central Bucks West figured it all out.

The Bucks entered the District 1-AAA playoffs as the 13th seed, ended up finishing third in the bracket then rode a driven senior class all the way to a state title in Hershey. Led by Grace Bendon, the indomitable senior goalkeeper, CB West ended the season on top.

Mark C Psoras--The Reporter Christopher Dock players celebrate scoring a goal against Pennridge during a scrimmage at Pennridge High School on Thursday afternoon August 27,2015.
Christopher Dock players celebrate scoring a goal against Pennridge during a scrimmage at Pennridge High School on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

Now, as the 2015 season is ready to begin, a number of Reporter/Montgomery media teams are poised to try and write their own storybook ending. A staggering amount of experience returns across the area while other teams are hoping this is the year they make the leap and contend for the playoffs.

CB West showed that timing a hot streak can be everything. But if the Bucks want to go for a repeat, they will do so with a very different cast. Aside from Bendon, now at St. Joseph’s, the Bucks lost Mackenzie Carroll, Shea McCarty, Carmen Telesco and Devin Dickenson among others. There may be some growing pains in

September and early October, but as they showed last year, all they need to do is get in the postseason.

Of course, the rest of the SOL Continental is chasing what the Bucks have. Pennridge lost just one senior, Jess Supp, an returns a remarkable amount of experience in names like Kennedy Peace, Jess Milligan, Erin Stevenson, Dani Meenan, Katie Fischer and Olivia Fernandez, among others. After two straight years of first round district losses, the Rams are mature and focused on making a deep run.

The truly frightening thing is that many of their key players are only juniors.

Central Bucks East and dynamic striker Emma Loving are also a threat in the conference, while North Penn is hoping to continue building on last year’s season. The Maidens missed out on a playoff berth and lost Ally King on defense, but Jim Dehner returns a lot of experience in North Wales and North Penn knows it just needs to win to crack through the playoff barrier.

In the Philadelphia Catholic League, Lansdale Catholic and Archbishop Wood continued their battle for supremacy in the AA schools. Wood had the final say in 2014, topping the Crusaders 1-0 in the PCL semifinals before winning the District 12 title.

Lansdale Catholic's Lena Staropoli beats Springfield's Cameron Callahan on a head ball on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. Montgomery Media staff photo by Bob Raines
Lansdale Catholic’s Lena Staropoli beats Springfield’s Cameron Callahan on a head ball during their game on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

Both teams have some key holes to fill, with Grace Gaus and Erin Brokans gone from LC and Wood losing part of its stifling defense in keeper Devon Haviland, Amanda McDermott and Katie Neveil along with striker Cristina Babyak .

Christopher Dock held serve in District 1 Class A, winning its fourth straight title. But the Pioneers are another team taking a new shape after seeing off Bailey Kratz and Mattasyn Shisler in attack and Emily Gordon in net. Ray Hess always manages to put a good team out and he has Megan Swintosky, Mckenzie Swartley and Nikki Clements back to anchor the squad.

Opposing them in the Bicentennial Athletic League is Lower Moreland and their all-state star forward, Bridgette Alexander. Even in Class AA, the Hartford-bound forward is one of the best players in the area and the Lions hope she can help them challenge Gwynedd Mercy and Villa Joseph Marie in districts.

The Monarchs, who fell to Villa Marie in the AA final last year, have their eyes set on the district title too, while Maggie Cameron and Erica DeCandido back to lead a versatile and athletic team.

William Tennent brings back plenty from a team that had its heart ripped out by Spring-Ford in the first round of districts, but the Panthers are motivated and looking tough in the back. In the SOL American teams Upper Dublin and Wissahickon have a few holes to fill around their returning talent as they aim for a conference title and repeat bid into districts.

Soccer is unpredictable, but based on the amount of quality players returning to the pitch across the area, it looks like dozens of must-see matchups are on deck for this season.


2014: 5-12-1.

Outlook: Results were in short supply for the Galloping Ghosts, who lost midfielder Gabbie Nolan and defender Mary Gene Mugnier to graduation. Toni Washington returns as a first team SOL National selection along with Maddie Doyle and Julia Guarini. Injuries have already taken a toll, with four potential starters sidelined.


2014: 15-7-1, PCL Runner-up, District 12 AA champion, PIAA 1st round.

Outlook: The Vikings rode a stout defense and senior leadership into the playoffs. While Wood should again be a contender in the AA division of the PCL, replacing backline standouts like Katie Neveil and Amanda McDermott and striker Christina Babyak will be a tall task.


2014: 19-6-1, District 1 AAA 3rd place, PIAA AAA champion.

Outlook: Once the postseason started, the Bucks went to another level. Buoyed by a tremendous senior class, they rode their mojo all the way to a dramatic state title in an overtime win. But, now comes the time to try and replace those seniors, specifically goalkeeper Grace Bendon, Mackenzie Carroll, Shea McCarty, Carmen Telesco and Devin Dickenson.

Dock's Nikki Clements dribbles up field with Delco Christian in pursuit. Bob Raines-Digital First Media
Christopher Dock’s Nikki Clements dribbles up field with Delco Christian in pursuit during last season’s District 1-A championship game. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)


2014: 4-12-2.

Outlook: Liza Becker and Anya Capps return for a Panthers team looking to climb up the ranks in the SOL American.


2014: 16-5, District 1 A champion, PIAA 2nd round.

Outlook: The Pioneers captured their fourth straight district title and advanced a round in the state playoffs before closing out the season. Terrific forward Bailey Kratz graduated as did Oliva Seavy, Eden Nafziger and keeper Emily Gordon. But Sharon Curtis, Nicole Clements and Megan Swintosky return to lead the Pioneers after more postseason success.


2014: 7-12.

Outlook: Faith returns a nice core of talent this season with Ashley Forker, Liz Hoffman and Kirah Brown due back on the pitch. The team needs to replace departed all conference picks Sabrina Smith and Taylor Barnes.


2014: 16-7-3.

Outlook: The Patriots enter the season looking to finish business after falling in the PAISAA final last season. Goalkeeper Kat Stambaugh and forward Emmy Dolaway are back as seniors while GA needs to replace starters Maddie Hackley and Victoria Mauro. The rest of the roster returns more experienced and ready to go.


2014: District 1 AA Final.

Outlook: The Monarchs again ran into foe Villa Joseph Maria in the district final but also continued their strong play in the Catholic Academies. Forward Maggie Cameron returns, as does Erica DeCandido and Mary Claire Casey.


2014: 3-14-1.

Outlook: Ike Onyeador takes over a Hatters team looking to start fresh. Junior goalkeeper Miranda Royds is back between the posts while Lauren Kim and Erica Paluszek have impressed in preseason. Graduated Mikaela Malofiy and Sarah Theurer are the biggest losses.

Margaret Jones of Gwynedd Mercy Academy, right, and Lansdale Catholic players Sarah Opdyke, left, and Tara Sheridan race for the ball.   Monday, Sepember 8, 2014
Lansdale Catholic players Sarah Opdyke, left, and Tara Sheridan race for the ball against Gwynedd Mercy during their game on Monday, Sepember 8, 2014. (Geoff Patton/The Reporter)


2014: 13-5-2, PCL semifinals.

Outlook: LC’s season came to an agonizing end in the PCL semifinals, but the Crusaders still placed third in the regular season table. The main challenge will be replacing lynchpins Grace Gaus at forward and Erin Brokans in the net. Sarah Opdyke is back for her senior season while Tara Sheridan and Lena Starapoli return in defense.


2014: 18-2, District 1 AA semifinals.

Outlook: Bridgette Alexander is back for one last run and the returning all-state and BAL Independence player of the year has plenty of help back. Keeper Victoria Mueller returns in net, while Erica Fleck returns in defense. The Lions have to replace Kaila Landau, Celina Costa and Kristen Wolfgang, but look like contenders in the conference.


2014: 10-6-2.

Outlook: The Maidens were a definite threat in the SOL Continental, but couldn’t put together enough wins to crack into the power point-created district brackets. Coach Jim Dehner has plenty of veterans to lean on, including forward Tina Miller and defenders Riley Houlihan, Anna Pedicone, Liz Volz and Jani Johnson. Ally King is a key loss on the back line.


2014: 14-2-3, District 1 AAA 1st Round.

Outlook: The Rams won their seventh straight conference title but saw an early district exit for the second straight year. With arguably the most experience in the area returning, Pennridge is looking for a different ending this year. Senior Jess Milligan leads a potent attack while UNC Charlotte commit Katie Fischer runs the midfield an Rachel Velez, Olivia Fernandez, Erin Stevenson and Dani Meenan all return on the back line.

Pennridge attacker Kennedy Peace ,22, controls a ball around Souderton defender Hannah Schmidt ,2, during first half action of their contest at Pennridge High School.   Thursday, September 11, 2014.   Photo by Mark C Psoras/The Reporter
Pennridge attacker Kennedy Peace (22) controls a ball around Souderton defender Hannah Schmidt (2) during first-half action of their contest at Pennridge High School on Thursday, September 11, 2014. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)


2014: 6-11-1.

Outlook: A young group returns looking to build off last year’s progress under coach Chris Felber. Senior defenders Kylie Heath and Hannah Schmidt will serve as captains while underclassmen like Tori Dowd, Cara McCausland, Sara Cassel and Bre DeRenzi are back and looking to challenge the heavyweights in the Continental.


2014: 9-9-1, District 1 AA 1st round.

Outlook: The Spartans had a memorable season that resulted in their first playoff bid in some time. But with 11 seniors, nine of them starters, lost to graduation, it’s time to start anew. A talented freshman group could see plenty of early time while Katie Fitzpatrick (goalkeeper), Lindsey Smith (midfield) and Emily Giampietro (midfield) return as players with varsity experience.


2014: 12-7, District 1 AAA 1st round.

Outlook: The Flying Cardinals edged out Springfield on the last night of the regular season to capture the SOL American title and ensure their playoff spot. UD coach John Topper will have to replace target forward Julie Cross, goalkeeper Alyssa Klammer and Tovah Kaiser. Luckily, talents like Becca Watson, Rebecca Haber and Paige Lawton are back in the mix.


2014: 4-13-1.

Outlook: A young team that took its lumps last year, the Golden Bears will be looking for a breakout year from a few of its returning players. Kim Benge returns in goal and Christian Kane picked up honorable mention all conference honors last year.


2014: 11-7-1, District 1 AAA 1st round.

Outlook: The Panthers were gutted in the playoffs when Spring-Ford score the game-winner with 1.5 seconds left. But, Tennent has plenty of players back and they’ve taken that loss as motivation. Junior keeper Lauriel Krouse will command the intact backline of Rachel McCabe, Kyla Gibson and Erin Thompson while junior Shannon McGuinn will serve as the leader of the offense up top.


2014: 13-4-1, District I AAA 1st round.

Outlook: The Trojans had a nice mix of seniors and youth last season and while vets like Alyssa Ryan and Anna Chiodo Ortiz graduated, there’s still talent on the field. Krysta Memis and Madison Elwell earns first team all conference last year as sophomores while Emily Vervlied, Kirsten Haney, Mary Matthews and Maddy Foglia also return. Wiss shapes up as a contender in the SOL American and has a good chance of a playoff return.

Top Photo: The Pennridge girls soccer team rallies together during a scrimmage against Christopher Dock at Pennridge High School on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

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