The Brooke girls soccer team had its playoff run ended a year ago in a 3-2 loss at Parkersburg South in the West Virginia Class AAA Region 1, Section 1 final after holding a 2-0 lead.
"That definitely left us with a sour taste," said Bruins coach Lee Weppler. "We were up 2-0 and feeling like we had a great opportunity to move on to regionals and we did not win the game.
"The girls are ready to get back to that game and have a better showing. We will work very hard to try to get back there and have a better outcome than we did last year."
Brooke's Cheyenne Hudson
Weppler, whose team was 16-4-2 a year ago, has a deep roster throughout the program and is seeking playoff runs far into the future.
"We have a lot of girls back who have a sense of what it's like to win and stay in games and hang around," he said. "That should give us some great opportunities to win games."
The Bruins started their season with a 1-1 tie at Winfield, the two-time defending Class AAA state champio.
"They are heavy favorites to win states again this year," said Weppler. "Right now, we are headed in the right direction. The game showed everyone on this team we can hang with the best team in the state."
He also knows that direction comes via a lot of hard work and team chemistry.
"We have a great group of kids who make each other better on the field and off of it," said the coach. "It is fun to watch. They are enjoying each other."
Junior Cheyenne Hudson is a returning second-team all-state selection by the West Virginia High School Soccer Coaches Association. Sophomore Leila Hannaoui was an honorable mention pick. Both were OVAC honorable mention choices (as was Hudson as a freshman).
"We have a lot of really good leaders on this team and they are two of them," said the coach.
Brooke also won the OVAC Cup a year ago, the last time in its existence. The Bruins had been in the Cup final five of the previous six seasons. A new playoff format hits OVAC soccer this season.
"Every year we are pushing to get better and we strive to get better," said Weppler. "Every preseason gets harder. We want to pick up the intesnity, work harder and continue to do great things
"This program is continuing to grow. The girls are buying into everything. We have a great group who want to work harder and get better right now."
Weppler has seniors Jessie Wayne, Lauren Altobell, Andrea Jenkins and Hayleigh Sutak.
Joining Hudson as a junior are Payge Farmer, Brette Geary, Mekenzie DeFranco, Michaela Valero and Mya McAllister.
Along with Hannaoui are sophomores Jena Riccelli, Karli Celestin (an Indian Creek transfer), Alexis Stevens, Jeri Stevens, Emily Brucchi, Emily Bernadini. Sierra Sesto is a freshman.
The Blue Dons are coming off a season where they won the West Virginia Class A Region 1, Section 1 championship for the first time in school history.
Madonna had its 14-9 season come to an end with a 2-1 loss to Fairmont Senior in the regional final.
"The girls have returned this year with very high expectations after falling in the regional finals last season," said head coach Bob Kolanko.
The squad lost three via graduation, but return eight starters.
Leading the way are seniors Rachel Grubbs, Leanne Grubbs, Hannah Bargar and Mia Antinone.
The Grubbs sisters were first-team all-state picks by the West Virginia High School Soccer Coaches Association. Bargar was a second-team selection. Rachel Grubbs and Bargar were first-team all-OVAC and Leanne Grubbs and Antinone were honorable mention all-OVAC.
Madonna will also call upon seniors Gabrielle Kotten, Anna Westfall and Maria Mazzone, juniors Elijah Dillie, Elizabeth Conforti, Jenna Fonner, Tessie Tokash and Dekota McCombs and sophomores Gianna Antinone, Erika Fonner and Lea Colantonio.
"It is great to have such an experienced team," said Kolanko. "Like last year, defense is the strength of our team, but we hope to develop a stronger attack this year. Throughout our preseason scrimmages, we have seen significant improvements with each game played and we look to continue this improvement through the season.
"It isn't how you start, but how you finish."
The coach also has six freshmen - Gianna Mascio, Emily Rovira, Miah LeFever, Abriana Fuscardo, Shannon Westfall and Kasey Canei.
"While we have an experienced returning group, it is important to continue the development of our younger players," said Kolanko. "We are just as interested in the future of our program as we are the immediate success of our current team."
Head coach John Madden took over the program a month ago and welcomed eight seniors - Maria Boston, Carla Daniel, Angela Duff, Emily Herrmann, Ana McNamara, Katherine Moore , Rhiannon Rogers and Kateri Spencer.
Moore was an Eastern District honorable mention selection in 2013, when the Crusaders finished 6-6-4.
"I'm new to the team but have seen enough to be excited about our potential for this season," said Madden. "This team really blew me away with their play in our first game and now I know that I can expect that to be the base from which they improve throughout the season.
"Seniors Maria Boston, Krista Ondos and Katherine Moore, have shown great skill and field knowledge as offensive players and I expect them to lead our attack.
"Seniors Emily Herrmann, Angela Duff, Carla Daniel and Rhiannon Rogers have really picked up our new defensive strategy quickly and I expect to see our defense getting stronger throughout the season.
"Senior Midfielders Ana McNamara, Kateri Spencer, along with sophomore Alexandria LaRue have been showing great strength and playmaking abilities.
"Junior goalkeeper Emily Stevens, playing her first season of high school soccer, has demonstrated great intuitive abilities as she's adjusted to the most difficult position on the field to play well."
The other five returning letterwinners are juniors Emily Kissinger and Madeline Padgett and sophomores Gabrielle Capaldi, Theresa Duff and Alexandria LaRue.
"We have a very challenging schedule, facing teams who have won recent state championships in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as top-ranked teams in Ohio," said the coach. "By the time we reach the Ohio playoffs, we will have faced 16 teams from schools that average three to six times ours size. We will strive to play at or above their level.
"Our strong schedule is going to be key to preparing us for the Ohio playoffs. Win or lose, this team will be prepared and will leave it all on the field.
"I'm grateful for this opportunity to work with this amazing group of girls."
The Red Riders were 14-8 a season ago and head coach Jessica Naughton said hello to 10 returners and bigger numbers.
"We are a young team with 10 freshman, but we will have our first JV team in five years and we are very excited about that," she said.
Her reutrners are Francesca Farran, Abby Wells, Francesca Rock, Brooke Hawthorne, Raegan Stead, Alyssa Kelly, Stephanie Pennachio, Hanna Dragonir and Emily Ruiz.
"We are lucky to have back our goalie, junior Alyssa Kelly, and four starters on defense - Mikayla Zias and Brooke Hawthorne as seniors, Stephanie Mennacchio as a junior and Hanna Dragonir as a sophomore.
"Our midfield and forwards are going to be young but Francesca Rock is our lonely senior up top with sophomore standout and leading (returning) scorer Francesca Farran. The mid field is led by Raegan Stead, our other senior and Abby Cowher, is also being a leader in the midfield.
"We are looking forward for another great year at Weir. We have young but talented team. There will be some freshman stepping in and try to replace our senior duo last year - Alyssa Shingle and Morgan Cassels. Some in coming freshman should look to have an impact on our team this year and they are Taylor Quickle, Paulayna Zias, Rabeka Rowland.
Katelynne Ferrebee, Cassidy Champ, Anna Creel, Lexey Brenneman, Bailey Stead, Emily Grier, Emalee Ferrebee, Meghan Hawthorne, and Kelsi Vacheresse complete the Red Riders' team.
Veteran coach Jeremy Angelo has 10 returning letterwinners back from a 10-6 season.
"We lost eight seniors to gradution, six of whom were starters," he said. "But, our outlook is a positive one. With the 10 returning lettermen and our new 11, learning to play together and become a team will be most important."
Of the 10 returners, three are three-year letterwinners - Bethanie Bube, Kaylinn Drabick and Amara Proffitt. Bube was first-team all-Eastern District and all-OVAC last season.
The coach also returns three two-year letterwinners in Madi Byrley, Kayla Cronin and Bekah Miller.
The Wildcats also have back Katie Oinenon, Rachel Cline, Melissa Tran and Chelsea Petzker.
"The energy and effort have been there all summer, now it needs to carry over into the season," said the coach.
In his first year overseeing the Big Red program, Jared Robinson led the squad to its first winning season (8-7-1) is some six years.
"The main thing we look to accomplish this season is as always to represent the pride of Steubenville High School to the best of our ability on and off the field, continually improve ourselves throughout the season, and work to do better than we did the years before," said Robinson, who lost six to graduation.
"This season looks very promising for our program. The girls who have returned from last year have used the traditions and expectations of the past to set a level of work and help our new girls pick up right where we left off last year."
The returning players are Emilee Karas, Sierra Porter, Ashlee Taylor, Emma Cotter, Hannah Masloski, Deanna DiCarlo, Mary Vodvarka, Kaci Mettenberger, Hannah Hoover, Samantha McDonald and Gillian Haught.
Big Red also has senior Hailey Black, juniors Marissa Howcroft, Bridig O'Neill and Hannah Stoutz, sophomores Kandisi Anyabwile, Myana Chester and Knisha Saunders and freshmen Sarah Brown, Kiah Chester and Seana Ragusa.
"Coming into this season we knew that we had a solid group of girls who were determined and focused to raise the bar from last year's team and over the summer we received a group of new girls who came into the program and have acted like they have been here as long as the returners," said Robinson. "These girls have put in a lot of work in the offseason to train themselves to be ready for this season and judging off of our practices, scrimmages, and games so far that training has put themselves in a position to accomplish the goals the team has set."
The Golden Bears were 6-10-1 a year ago and head coach Sam Paletta welcomed top returners Erin Fields, Devon Temple, Madison Kranis, Christen Mangano, Mollie Williams, Desi Davis, Autumn Monigner, Emily Bodo and Mandy Minger.
"Once again we will be a mix of upperclassmen and young players," said Paletta.
Not only did Oak Glen lose six to graduation, one of them, Megan Collins, scored more than 100 goals in her career and that, somehow, must be replaced.
"The upperclassmen have been working hard and helping bring the young players along," said the coach.
The Golden Bears also have juniors Aisha Liberatore and Lydia Groves, sophomores MaClay Moore, Dominica Price and Kailene Glover and freshmen Sydney Hall, Brooke Provenzano, Audrey Malcomb, Alessia Richmond, Kennedy Graves, Meagan Dawson and Jordan Rodriguez.
"Practices have been intense with the starters being pushed hard," said Paletta.
Leading the way for the Redskins are three-year letterwinners Marissa DeFallo and Jalyn Thompson to its roster of 20.
"They will be counted on to stay as healthy and upbeat as they can to lead these young, but enthusiastic freshmen," said first-year head coach Gene Ciciarelli. "Marissa and Jalyn have received some honors and my prayer is that their leadership and skills will continue to rubn off on their teammates."
A dozen on the roster are freshman.
The coach also has seniors Shelby Dye, Emily Ighnat and Kayla Terry, along with junior Feliciti Thompson (a two-year letterwinner) and sophomores Hallie Schmitt and Maddie Smith.
"We lost eight young women last year who broughta lot of caring and enthusiasm to the program," said Ciciarelli. "They are welcome to visit anytime and encourage our young athletes to stay positive.
"Our motto this year, as long as I will be involved, is 'Gibe me a reason, but no excuses' and 'Tradition never graduates - it educates.
"We will need our upperclassmen and our seniors to display courage, confidence and a never-say-quit work ethic."
Indian Creek's freshmen are Rachel Cooper, Livia Fouse, Paige Hildebrand, Kelsey Lewis, Jocelyn Mattern, Savannah Pavlic, Katie Scott, Ellie Talbott, Miah Thompson, Mazzie Tipton, Hannah Titi and Madelyn Yoho.
The Huskies are coming off an 0-14 season, its first year in school history.
"In just our second year as a varsity sport, I believe that we will still have some bumps in the road, but the returning ladies have worked hard and have bought into the system," said second-year head coach Scott Ward said, who returned eight letterwinners. "We have made great improvements from last year.
Those eight are juniors Gina Sadler and McKenzie Sheets, and sophomores Ashley Mencer, Danielle Pittman, Spencer Blumenschein, Alexis Yoho, Makayla Black and Kylee Rose.
"Although our numbers are lower than what I would like, the ladies have been working on controlling the game speed and making runs when we need to," Ward said. "I feel that they have a very good chance of getting that first win in school history this season."
Rounding out the roster are senior Mariah Kuryn, sophomores Hannah Warrington and Jorden Brown and freshmen Juliana Rose, Laken Ward and Molly Arbogast.
"The new ladies who have joined us this year will be a big help to the team," Ward added. "Most of them have come up through the rec league in Harrison County."