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Prep soccer preview: Mead girls return strong core of seniors

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 11, 2019, 7:29 p.m.

By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

The Mead Panthers missed out on a state appearance last season, coming within two wins of a third-place finish in the District 8 4A tournament.

Head coach Kevin Houston is heading into his ninth season at Mead, going 84-38-4 between the boys and girls teams.

After a third-place finish in the Greater Spokane League in 2018, Houston will rely on a strong core of seniors from the back to the front. A senior starter occupies a position in defense, midfield and two in the attack, including all-league selections midfielder Kendal Houston and forward Margo Schoesler.

The Panthers relied on a lockdown defense last year, allowing just eight goals, the second-best mark in the league.

“We have a strong group of returning players at core areas,” Houston said. “We are adding some depth with some young players that have earned some playing time last year, so as long as we can stay healthy heading into the playoffs, we should have a pretty good season.”

Mercedes Cullen steps in for first-team all-league keeper Ashylynn Eggleston, who graduated. Mead graduated three starters along with five letter winners, while six starters return with 10 letter winners.

The first league test comes Oct. 4 at Gonzaga Prep.

4A

Central Valley had three first-team all-league midfielders graduate – Kaylin Labrosse, Marissa Bankey and Madylyn Simmelink. The remaining five starters and nine letter winners will attempt to reach the same highs as last season when CV placed third at state. … Ferris has a veteran squad for third-year coach Alex Bray, with eight seniors and five juniors on the roster. Seven starters remain for Ferris, which wants to play fast, get the ball up the pitch quick and finish well. … Gonzaga Prep returns almost its entire squad that reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament. The Bullpups will need to replace Olivia Lauffer and team captain Kennedy Seibold, who commanded the backline of the defense. “Replacing both starting center defenders will be a challenge but will give returning, or new, players a chance to step up and earn a starting position,” head coach Billy Barmes said. G-Prep will have no issues scoring, with sisters Chelsea and Kyah Le returning. Chelsea was first-team all-league and Kyah was on the second team. … Lewis and Clark had a lot of close matches last season. An overtime loss to G-Prep and one-goal losses to Mead and CV showed LC has the talent and coaching to push the top teams of the league. Three returning starters should provide strength. Elena Rawlins leads the defense while Anna Ackermann – a second-team all-leaguer – and Ella Magnuson patrol the midfield. … University is led by four-year starter and second-team all-league Gracen Crosby, whose older sister – and league MVP – Kelsey Crosby graduated. “We will lean on her younger sister, Gracen, to step up as a leader and continue to be a physical presence and leader in the midfield,” head coach Kara Sharpe said. The Titans placed fourth in the GSL last year.

3A

Mt. Spokane: The Wildcats lost almost half of their starters but return some of their stronger players. “(We) return our entire defensive line, captained by junior center back Gracyn Ulias and sophomore Kylie Stiles,” head coach Shannon Stiles said. Ulias and Stiles were all-league selections a season ago. Seniors Allie Baribault and Summer Green are coming off ACL injuries. … North Central coach Matt Leonard graduated 12 seniors from last season’s team. Only three starters remain along with a large influx of youth from junior varsity and middle school. The young squad will lean on senior defender Taylor Cain and juniors Alexa Deatherage and Kendall Delp. … Rogers flows through two-time team MVP and team captain Hailey Hooks. With only three starters and three letter winners graduating, Rogers has an experienced roster. After one win last season and none in league play, first-year head coach Mike Duke is hoping to buck the recent trend. The defense is led by two juniors, Macy Crawford and Lizzy Case. Shadle Park welcomes first-year head coach Rik Robles to the program. He takes over a squad that won only one game last season but scored as many goals as fifth-place Mt. Spokane. “We have a great group of young ladies that has a large growth potential both on and off the field,” Robles said.

Great Northern League

Cheney finished second behind powerhouse East Valley last season, but seventh-year head coach Nels Radtke said that this team should be the strongest he’s coached. The Blackhawks return nine seniors and 12 of the players played on the Cheney Storm club team that went to nationals. First-team All-GNL Kaitlin Teeters is back to patrol the midfield. … East Valley led the league in scoring last season, with 41 goals across 11 league matches. But second-team all-state forward Taryn Baxter and first-team all-state MF Chloe Gellhaus graduated, so first-team all-leaguer Kaitlyn Harvey steps in to help fill the void. Third-year head coach Todd Slatter will look to push his team back to the state tournament where the Knights lost in the first round. …West Valley coach CC Collins enters a second season with returning all-league pick Alyssa Amann and fellow senior Baylee Trejo controlling the midfield, with junior keeper Madison Maloney on the end line.

Northeast 1A

Deer Park finished fourth at state in 2018 and returns five starters, including eight letter winners. Hannah Hodgson is the leader, a senior defender who was first-team all-state last season. Two newcomers to watch are Ella Carnahan and Gracelynn Martinson, two freshmen who have been club players … Freeman and second-year head coach Dave Ellis lost two all-state players from a season ago. New keeper Amanda Flory will assume that role and Ellis thinks she is ready to fill in. Junior forward Peyton Brewer will assume most of the attacking duties in 2019 and freshman Makayla Wener, a 13-year-old midfielder, will be a starter from Day 1. … Lakeside returns four all-league selections from a team that finished sixth at state last season. Twelve letter winners return for second-year head coach Andy Hackett. The defense is anchored by seniors Andee Lane and Mykayla Cummings. The midfield has all-league selections Emma Spence and Lexi Torok.

Northeast 2B

St. George’s won state last season and with only two starters gone from 2018, the Dragons have a lot of pieces to do it again. Gone are best friends and seniors Maddy Christenson – an all-state first-team midfielder – and Abby Jones, but the rest of the squad remains intact. “The team looks ready to carry on their form from last season after winning state,” head coach Logan Georgeadis said. “This season should be a fun one with the new girls and returners we have on the squad.”

Idaho

Coeur d’Alene returns 12 players who started last season, including all-Inland Empire 5A goalie Lilly Foster for her senior season. Sophomore defender Sophia Allen was another all-league first-team selection for the Vikings, who will get senior leadership from MF Julie Stith and F Zoe Cox. … Lake City returns senior all-state performer Maddy Lasher … Lakeland coach Mario Maddy enters his 25th season, with seniors Darby McDevitt, Sammi Pinnick and Erica Gallus. … Sandpoint all-state goalie Hattie Larson returns for her junior season. Coach Conor Baranski has to replace a strong departed senior class. … Bonners Ferry first-year coach Emily Winebark has 12 letter winners and eight returning starters to work with, including seniors Jennifer Schmitz on defense and Emily Sanchez in goal. … Priest River will lean on returning all-state pick Keona Brown.

Boys

St. George’s has a chance to push for a state title as the Dragons also lost only two starters to graduation. Head coach Heidi Melville hopes to lead the Dragons to state for the ninth time in 10 seasons. Team MVP and keeper Ethan Johnson is gone, but the midfield has experience. “This team has a ton of talent, including several seniors, with key freshman newcomers and one sophomore newcomer,” Melville said … Post Falls returns 10 starters, including two-time first-team all-league selections Ethan Lawson – a forward – and Mckie Gregory – a midfielder. “Last season we finished very strong in the second half of the season and have picked up where we left off,” head coach Gabe Lawson said … Lake City will be in a rebuilding year this season after a fourth-place finish at state. The Timberwolves lost 10 starters to graduation, including the offensive and defensive MVPs for the 5A IEL in Keaton Murphree and JR Rayborn. Jacob Janzen – a first-team all-league midfielder – returns for the Timberwolves.

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