A look at the top storylines entering the girls' soccer season:
1. Where have they all gone?
Many of the state’s top players will be missing across high school fields this season. The Minnesota State High School League ruled that girls’ soccer players committed to the Elite Clubs National League are not eligible to play high school soccer. Pick one or the other, they were told. This move is similar to what boys’ soccer went through last season when the United States Soccer Federation extended the season of its development programs. The change would mean soccer players were playing on two teams during the same time period, which is against high school league rules. Coaches and players are frustrated with the rule and are trying to figure out how to survive the mass departure of talent. “It would make sense to make some modifications so that we can get some of our best players back on the field to show the best of Minnesota soccer,” Maple Grove coach Ben LeVahn said.
2. South Suburban muscles
Lakeville North coach Bulut Ozturk was concerned about how his team would match up against Eastview. The two South Suburban Conference teams are favored to finish at the top of the 10-team standings. Burnsville, Eagan, Prior Lake and Apple Valley aren’t convinced it’ll be that easy for the pair, though. Even Rosemount is off to a solid start. This group of loaded teams likely will make the South Suburban Conference the best in the state this season. Last year, the conference put two teams into the state tournament (Lakeville North and Eastview) to match the Lake Conference’s and Northwest Suburban’s two berths apiece. Lakeville North captains Alexis Joyce, Lauren Brownrigg, Lauren Sherry and Sarah Fisco said they plan to push by all of these opponents to end a trend of two consecutive state semifinal defeats.
3. Loading up the schedule
Blake never has worried about a regular season loss. In fact, one is almost expected and welcomed with the loaded schedule the Bears put together this season. Lydia Sutton and her teammates use the stiff competition as preparation for their biggest rival of all: Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Blake lost to Benilde 3-2 in last year’s Class A
championship game. Among the Bears’ 2013 nonconference schedule are Class AA powers Wayzata and Lakeville North. Victories in these mid- and late-season matchups could provide the confidence they need to make another deep run in the state tournament.
4. Young and ready
The four sophomores on the Minnehaha Academy roster don’t play like underclassmen. Katie Brumley, Megan Whitney, Iso Jones and Tori Roloff are all returning regulars from last season’s 14-3-2 team and expected to help lead the team in 2013. The foursome will aid the three senior captain’s efforts by helping newcomers like sophomore goal keeper Corinna Brown Ton quickly settle into her role. Coach Mark Anderson is somewhat worried about his young team’s depth but describes the group as physical and tough. They even managed to stick with Blake in a 1-0 season-opening loss.