Coach: Gretchen Hanson (fifth year)
Last season: 5-10-2 overall
Key returners: Ellie Chambers, sr., midfielder/defender; Ellison Kephart, sr., forward; Abby Hylton, sr., forward; Megan McKenna, jr., midfielder; Abby Schnabel, jr., forward/midfielder; Genna Oliver, jr., midfielder; Samantha Dziminowicz, soph., defender; Cadence Lamphiear, jr., defender; Kassie Jenson, sr., forward.
Key newcomers: Tesa Balding, soph., midfielder; Fai Puenpoh, jr., defender; Claire Schnabel, fr., goalkeeper.
Outlook: Youthful potential is what the Seahawks will rely on this season.
“We have a lot of young players coming up,” Hanson said. “Those girls have a soccer mindset. For us as a team, it’s about staying true to our formations and having eyes for the net.”
That youth movement is highlighted by Claire Schnabel.
The freshman will assume the goalkeeper position vacated by junior Ava Kephart. The first-team all-Northwest Conference goalie from a year ago underwent knee surgery and will miss the season.
Schnabel, however, has impressed Hanson.
“She looks good,” Hanson said. “She has a lot of potential and has really impressed me with her verbal communication in the back. That’s not always easy as a freshman, but Claire has done a great job. She has good height and a great wingspan. She’s able to make those saves side to side.”
Hanson also likes what she has seen from Balding, a recent transplant for Colorado.
Offensively, Hanson wants to see more goals from more players from more parts of the field of this season.
“At the moment, our front and back lines are ahead of our midfield,” she said. “Our midfield just needs to gain some experience. That’s where a lot of new players are. Right now, we are really focused on our zonal defense.”
Burlington- Edison Tigers
Coach: Ryan Kuttel (eighth year)
Last season: 18-5-1, advanced to Class 2A state semifinals
Key returners: Moira MacKay, sr., forward; Miranda Maskell, jr., forward; Brianna Navarro, jr., defender; Ellie Carpenter, jr., midfielder; Megan Gustafson, jr., goalkeeper; Emma Fleury, jr., goalkeeper; Emma Smith, soph., midfielder; Breckyn Mueller, soph., defender; Sidney Reisner, soph., defender; Hannah Sayer, soph., midfielder; Ashley Gonzalez, jr., midfielder.
Key newcomers: Cambria Smith, fr., midfielder; Malia Anderson, fr., defender; Jaycee Smith, fr., defender; Stephanie Ortiz, fr., defender; Analise Slotemaker, fr., midfielder; Liz Cisneros, fr., forward.
Outlook: In MacKay, the Tigers return the Northwest Conference MVP and the Skagit Valley Herald Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year.
The senior tallied 36 goals a season ago.
Though Burlington-Edison graduated some strong players, it returns a state tournament-tested group that felt the heat of big games.
“We have a lot of big-game experience,” Kuttel said. “And there was good examples set by those seniors we lost. But I expect this year’s seniors to step up. This is a very motivated team.”
MacKay will continue to be a tough to defend.
“She just continues to work hard,” Kuttell said. “She takes soccer very seriously and has looked extremely sharp. Obviously, she had a great season last year — one that is going to be hard to top — but that will just motivate her more this year.”
The coach is also expecting Maskell to play a major role this season, saying the junior is coming off a great sophomore campaign.
“Hopefully, she (Maskell) can build on that,” Kuttel said. “We have some holes and I expect her to be able to fill them.”
La Conner Braves
Coach: Christian Warman (fourth year)
League: Northwest 2B/1B
Last season: 3-10
Key returners: Delany Cobbs, soph., forward/midfielder; Addie Reinstra, sr., midfielder; Charity Jordan, soph., midfielder; Jenna Rudig, soph., forward; Riley Banaszak, sr., forward/midfielder; Kaliana Bill, soph., defender; Chloe Cunningham, soph., goalkeeper; Avery Sloniker, jr., defender; Isabelle Williams, jr., forward; Ketelina O’Brien, jr., forward/midfielder.
Key newcomers: Rachel Semrau, fr., defender; Aubrie Jolly, fr., defender.
Outlook: Though the Braves are young, Warman said they are a hungry squad.
“We are not super experienced, but I like the way we are developing particularly in our defensive characteristics,” he said. “We are going to have a very strong back line.”
Warman is expecting Reinstra and Jordan to come up big from their midfield positions.
“Those two are going to be our X factors in finishing,” he said. “Last year, we struggled to finish. We just couldn’t find the goal. This year, we are going to be able to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Mount Vernon Bulldogs
Coach: Rene Caro (first year)
Conference: Western 4A
Last season: 4-11
Key returners: Rachel Bottles, sr., defender; Maizie Chapin, jr., midfielder; Ava Doherty, soph., defender; Annie Hughes, sr., midfielder; Kennedy McKinnon, sr., forward; Josie Mills, jr., midfielder/defender; Jacia Navarro, jr., defender; Litzzy Partida, jr., forward; Misha Quezada, sr., midfielder; Maddie Robertson, soph., forward; Sydney Snyder, soph., defender; Abigail Staheli, soph., defender; Thalia Ward, soph., goalkeeper.
Key newcomers: Lila Faber, fr., forward; Ava Flores, fr., forward; Jenna Mills, fr., midfielder; Leia Moreno, fr., forward; Abigail Pepper, fr., goalkeeper.
Outlook: Caro assumes the helm after spending last season as an assistant coach.
He has liked what he has seen from a squad that is a solid mix of veterans and rookies.
“I have been really impressed with how close they have become as a team,” Caro said. “I am impressed with their chemistry. They are a young squad, but the underclassmen have filled in nicely.”
Mount Vernon will rely on their midfield play to come up big this season.
Caro said with the formation he plays, Chapin and Hughes will be called upon to facilitate play. He also expects Jenna Mills, who he described as a very “dynamic player,” to slide into the midfield, easily rotating into that spot when not on defense.
“They know my style,” Caro said. “They know what we want to do. I want all the girls to learn not only what it takes to play at this level, but the next.”
Mount Vernon Christian Hurricanes
Coach: John Burmeister (fourth year)
League: Northwest 2B/1B
Last season: 11-4, bi-district qualifier
Key returners: Emma Symmank, sr., midfielder; Lilly Bridge, sr., forward; Sydney Sharkey, jr., defender; Caitlin VanderKooy, fr., midfielder; Sophia Schmaus, soph., defender.
Key newcomers: Abby Russell, fr., forward; Camryn Stewart, soph., defender/midfielder.
Outlook: The Hurricanes have some holes to fill.
“There was a big turnover coming into this year,” Burmeister said. “We are going to be a very young team and there are a lot of new faces.”
He said while his squad is young in regard to varsity playing time, the players are by no means strangers to the game.
“They know the game,” he said. “These eighth and ninth graders have been getting up to speed fast. They have got out of the gate quickly.”
The coach highlighted the play of Russell and Stewart. Stewart is a transfer from La Conner.
“Abby is a skilled player and Camryn is a very hard worker,” he said. “The keys for us (are) being able to highlight the strength of each individual player. The girls are having fun and working hard.”
Coach: Gary Warman (sixth year)
Last season: 8-7-4, bi-district qualifier
Key returners: Natalya Schwetz, sr., forward; Chloe Hynds, sr., midfielder; Piper Smith, sr., goalkeeper; Makenna Peterson, sr., defender; Anna Rutherford, sr., defender; Olivia Isakson, jr., midfielder/forward; Madesyn Skinner, jr., defender; Gabby Ashton, jr., midfielder; Lauren Benham, jr., midfielder; Tess Wimer, jr., midfielder; Mabel Gahan, soph., midfielder; Graci Adkerson, soph., goalkeeper.
Key newcomers: Nyomie Schwetz, fr., forward; Alivia Hynds, fr., midfielder/forward; Kim Arce, sr., defender; Hailey Gonzalez, fr., forward/midfielder; Stazia Kramer, sr., defender.
Outlook: Warman said his team’s success depends on how healthy it can remain during a rigorous conference schedule.
“This is the least amount of depth I’ve had ever,” he said. “We have to stay healthy. If we can stay healthy, we will be in games.”
Of course, there are other factors as well.
“We have to stay organized out there and keep our shape,” Warman said. “We are extremely talented players through the core of the midfield. The supporting cast will make all the difference.”
Chloe Hynds and Isakson hold down the midfield and Warman said they are the best midfielders in the conference.
“We’ll compete thanks to them,” he said.
Add to that Ashton and Skinner, who are also fleet afoot as well as completely immersed in the system, and the middle of the field will be tough to crack.
“Those two (Ashton and Skinner) are an absolute delight to coach,” Warman said. “They believe in the system and they know what I want accomplished out there.
Mount Vernon Christian Hurricanes
Coach: Jeremiah Wohlgemuth (first year)
League: Northwest District 2B/1B
Last season: 13-5, state qualifier
Key returners: Luke Gott, sr., midfielder/defender; Noah Lubbers, sr., forward; Peter Opp, sr., defender/midfielder; Christopher Wyatt, sr., defender/midfielder; Jacob Hays, jr., midfielder; Canaan VanderArk, jr., forward/midfielder; Matthew Wyatt, soph., goalkeeper.
Key newcomers: None
Outlook: Wohlgemuth replaces Robert Adeline who retired after a decade of coaching the Hurricanes.
Wohlgemuth is no stranger to soccer, having been the coach at Lakewood the past 15 season, and leading the Cougars to three state tournament appearances.
He inherits a program flush with returners as well as a host of newcomers, including five freshmen Wohlgemuth expects to contribute at the varsity level.
“We return a lot of quality players,” he said. “They are smart kids who have enjoyed a lot of success.”
And those freshmen?
“They are a different brand of player,” Wohlgemuth said. “They are ball handlers. They are quick and agile.”
In regards to returners, Wohlgemuth expects Wyatt and Opp to lead the way.
La Conner Braves
Coach: Galen McKnight (first year)
League: Northwest District 2B/1B
Last season: 1-13
Key returners: Skyler Morse, sr., midfielder; Mason Wilson, soph., forward/midfielder; Cameron Burks, soph., defender/midfielder; Spencer Olson, soph., defender; Manuel Lopez, soph., defender; Thomas Wilme, soph., forward; Noah Lee, sr., forward.
Key newcomers: Charles Baker, jr., goalkeeper; Elijah Porter, jr., defender; Logan Burns, eighth grader, midfielder; Alden Schnabel, jr., midfielder; Ian McCormick, fr., defender; Gage Tenborg, fr., midfielder.
Outlook: McKnight assumes the coaching duties held for the past 12 years by Steve DeLeon.
McKnight, who is an assistant basketball coach at the school, recruited some players to the soccer program.
“I was able to rope in a some basketball players,” he said. “Right now, they are all looking very good. We had two-a-days for the first time in awhile and they worked really hard. I like the commitment to the team I’ve seen.”
The coach is expecting Wilson and Schnabel to set the pace. Wilson is a veteran while Schnabel has solid soccer experience.
“Alden has played select soccer for several years, and Mason is very goal oriented. That is something I have been stressing, trying to get more aggressive, and they have been doing that.”
— Vince Richardson