The Green Hope girls soccer team has some unfinished business this season.
The Falcons return eight starters from a 25-1-0 club that lost 2-1 in the state finals and gave up only 11 goals all season while recording 18 shutouts.
The roster is filled with future collegiate players who have won national championships on the club level.
But the loss a year ago to Cornelius Hough in the finals was a blow to a club that was expected to win the state title.
“I've never seen a team as focused in the preseason as this one,” said Green Hope coach Bobby Peterson. “The girls are very driven.”
The roster is filled with standouts.
Alexis Shaffer, a University of Virginia recruit, was the 2012 N.C. Gatorade Player of the year. Alexis Degler (Ohio State) led the Falcons with 35 goals in 2012.
Sydney Curtis (Virginia Tech), Callie McClain (UNC-Wilmington), Cameron Sigmon (College of Charleston) and Morgan Vezina (Old Dominion) also return.
Other teams to watch
Leesville Road: The Pride (25-2-1) was fantastic in 2012 and reached the quarterfinals before losing to Green Hope, 3-0. Leesville allowed only 0.8 goals per game last year and notched 14 shutouts.
Eight starters return, including defender Anne Cushman.
“We will have a large senior class, comprised of more blue collar rather than blue chipper ladies,” said coach Paul Dinkenor, who has a 490-149-49 record in 19 years at the school. “Their leadership will set the tone for the whole campaign.”
Millbrook: The Wildccats (20-3) return 11 starters from a club that lost in the third round to Green Hope and which shared the Cap Eight 4A regular-season title with Leesville Road.
NCSCAA all-state picks senior Cailyn Boch (College of Charleston) and junior Colleen Markey lead the way. Also back are Rachel Hallman (Elon), Jackie Stroud (Old Dominion), Alexis Pendergraft (South Carolina) and Anna Shelden (UNC-Charlotte)
Carrboro: The Jaguars (21-1-2) defeated Cuthbertson 2-1 in the NCHSAA 2A title game. Carrboro averaged 5.7 goals and allowed only eight goal in 2012, shutting out 17 opponents. Junior twins Caroline and Emma Houser have committed to UNC-Asheville and should be the leaders..
Apex. The Cougars (13-7-1) are led by N.C. Soccer Coaches Association all-state selection Paige Recker (Clemson), who scored 28 goals in 2012. Kaitlyn Walker (UNC-Charlotte) and Kate Hobbie (John Hopkins) also are among four returning starters.
East Chapel Hill: The Tigers (16-6-3) won the Piedmont Athletic 4A and reached the third round before losing to Leesville Road, 3-1 in overtime.
Cardinal Gibbons: The Crusaders (15-3-5) were the No. 2 seed from the Carolina 3A Conference, but knocked off top-seeded Chapel Hill 1-0 in the quarterfinals. Senior defender Christina Gibbons and junior defender Morgan Reid were NCSCAA all-state picks.
Raleigh Charter: The Phoenix (17-2-0) reached the NCHSAA 1A semifinals before losing to Southwest Onslow 1-0 in overtime. Senior Rachel Hammond was a NCSCA all-state selection.
Holly Springs: The Hawks (12-7-2) return nine starters including junior all-state pick Dominique Babbitt, who accounted for 70 percent of Holly Springs’ goals and assists. Megan Poth (Flagler College) was the leading goal scorer in 2012.
Knightdale: The Knights (9-10-1) should be improved this season with the return of eight starters, including seniors Sara Snotherly (Methodist University) and Brittany Larussa (Meredith College).
Players to watch
Catherine Blair, Saint Mary’s, Sr.: Duke recruit was a NCSCA all-state pick.
Cameron Castleberry, Ravenscroft, Sr: All-state selection
Madison Boice, Durham Science & Math, Sr.: All-state selection
Kelsey Grady, Clayton, Sr.: Defensive player of the year in the Greater Neuse 4A.