Barlow graduated 11 seniors from last years squad that tied Central Catholic atop the Mount Hood standings
The chase for this years Mount Hood Conference girls soccer title appears to be a private-school affair with Central Catholic and St. Marys bringing veteran lineups to the field this fall.
Junior Nesha Eaton, the leagues Outstanding Goalie last year, posted six shutout victories and is joined by junior all-star defender Maddie Mattecheck, meaning goals will be at a premium against the Blues this season.
Central Catholic, which tied Barlow for the league crown last year, returns three first-team all-stars, most notably senior striker Maheyla Molinari. A pair of ties with the Bruins were the only blemishes on the Rams league schedule last year.
We play each other twice each year, so its hard to surprise teams, and those schools are so deep with club players its going to be tough to catch them, Gresham coach Kathy Childress said. I think theres going to be a gap, but hopefully we can close it.
Following are previews of the five East County schools
n The Bruins graduated 11 seniors from last years squad that tied Central atop the standings with a 10-0-2 record, included in that group is all-state defender Sam Porter who is playing at Northwest University this fall.
That leaves the junior tandem of Bethany Leliefeld and Kayla Currin to patrol the back line, while sophomore Alex Qualls returns in goal after splitting time in her rookie season. She had a big summer, playing on the Oregon Developmental team and earning a spot to the national team camp.
Shes very vocal and very aggressive. She reads the game well, Barlow coach Jason Hubert said. If youre a goalie, you have to be willing to throw yourself on the ground. Youre risking your body to block shots.
The Bruins led the league in scoring with 2.7 goals per game last year, although the bulk of those chances came from all-league strikers Kaley King and Brittney Currin both graduated.
That has led to a revised attack this season, as Hubert is imploring his players to fire away when the ball gets near the 18-yard box.
Were going to play quick one-touch soccer and come from all angles, Hubert said. Were really stressing that once you get inside 20 or 25 yards just shoot it. Well charge the goal and get scores on rebounds and deflections.
Leading the attack is senior forward Haley Oretger, along with Taylor Kern and Kerri Cook.
n The Eagles welcome the return of senior defender Emily Michalski, who spent all of 15 minutes on the field last year before a knee injury sent her to the sideline. She was an all-league player for Centennial during her first two high school seasons.
It just had a domino effect because you end up moving players around to fill her spot and it affects the whole roster we certainly missed Emily, Centennial coach Dick Bertelsen said.
Lyric Wing and Alexis Smith join her on the backline.
The attack has a flood of young players with Elise Morrow and LeAnn Phanakhone in the center midfield and Tara Phanakhone and Cierra Moraley on the edges. Gabby Schmidt and Abbi Eyestone lead the charge up front.
We graduated seven veteran players, so weve pulled some kids up from jayvee and have some freshmen out there, too, Bertelsen said. Were young and were fun. I like this groups work ethic and competitiveness.
n Gophers coach Kathy Childress is thrilled with a simple fact early this season. She has nobody on the injury report.
We had a lot of injuries last year, and when youre not terribly deep that means youre pulling from your jayvee to get a couple starters, Childress said. I almost dont want to say anything, but weve had no terrible injuries so far.
A healthy lineup gives the Gophers plenty of scoring options, led by junior Stacy Tatum in the center midfield. While her role is largely to distribute the ball and get her team into an offensive flow, Tatum is also capable of launching pin-point shots out of the midfield.
Shes been hanging around my teams since she was 8 years old, Childress said. Shes always been around a soccer ball and thrived on that. We call her sticky feet because it looks like shes falling down, but shes actually beating you.
Amber Peschka, Jesse Stone, Bailey Allen and Kyleigh Jandro are also capable to beating the keeper, as Gresham looks to boost its output from last season when it scored multiple goals only three times.
Sophomore Lexa Cooper is the veteran of the back line, which features three new additions this season. Senior goalie Melissa Smith returns as the stopper.
Melissa is our vocal leader and knows how to fire the other kids up, Childress said. The biggest thing for her is some added confidence in her role.
DAVID DOUGLAS SCOTS
n When the Scots found the net, they won more than half their games in 2011. The problem was that the team failed to score on a consistent basis, suffering nine shutouts.
Were starting with a blank slate, said new coach Justin Rosenblad. We want to move the ball and get numbers into the box to create solid chances. Its going to have to be a team effort.
Leading the way are seniors Cassidy Bean and Emily Ramirez, along with freshman Kennedy Engelgau.
Senior goalie Brianna Fanning returns as the last line of defense, returning to the field after a concussion limited her playing time last year.
She has good range and long arms, Rosenblad said. She definitely makes a difference in goal.
n The Raiders return some talented players from last years squad that finished with just one win in league, but could make a jump after suffering a 1-6 record in one-goal matches in 2011.
The first thing is to go out, have fun and work hard. Theyve been competitive, so if we do that the wins will materialize, said Raiders first-year coach Shawn Bundy. Changing our mindset is first and foremost.
Bundy spent five years as the boys coach at Philomath and was the boys jayvee coach at LaSalle last season.
The Raiders put up a healthy 19 goals last year, but more than half that total came in a season-opening mismatch over Madison. Much of this years production will fall to midfielders Courtney Fieldhouse, Girogina Sorovigas and Kara Ikebe, while the team hopes three-year starter Jasmine Berlin can get up to speed while nursing an early-season ankle injury.
We want to control the middle of the field. If we can do that, well be okay, Bundy said. Ive seen a lot of improvement over these first couple weeks, its just a matter of getting everyone to gel.