Green Hope, which went 28-0 en route to a No. 1 national ranking in 2013, returns a handful of starters from last year’s lineup, but Millbrook looks like the top girls’ soccer team in the area.
Michael Hoy, who coached the boys’ soccer team last fall, takes over as the Green Hope girls’ coach this spring. Among his veterans are Elon recruits Amanda Lasater and Kenly Sigmon (9 goals, 10 assists).
The Falcons have been a powerhouse, building a 72-3 record over the past three seasons, but Millbrook looks loaded.
The Wildcats were 21-2-1 last year with both losses to Green Hope. Millbrook’s season has ended with losses to Green Hope the past two years.
Millbrook coach Matt Edwards has plenty of experienced talent.
The Wildcats are led by senior Cailyn Boch (N.C. State), goalkeeper Anna Shelden (Charlotte), Alexis Pendergraft (South Carolina) and junior Alexa Asher (Appalachian State) plus Kelsey Little, Colleen Markey, Clarrisa Martin and Lexie Qualle.
Shelden recorded eight shutouts and allowed just 16 goals in 24 games.
Other teams to watch
Cardinal Gibbons (22-2-1): The NCHSAA Class 3A champs and will be led by Duke recruit Morgan Reid (21 goals, 23 assists) and seniors Laura Magdefrau and Faith Wilson.
Leesville Road (18-5-1): It’s unwise to ever count out a Paul Dinkenor-coached team. The Pride has speedy forward Mary Kate Bowers (17 goals, 14 assists), physical defender Sydney Frizzelle and Elon junior commitment Mackenzie Dipper.
Chapel Hill (19-5): The Tigers ended their season by losing three of their last five games, but topped Gibbons and Leesville Road during the regular season. North Carolina recruit Alexandra Kimball was an all-state pick who had 25 goals and 16 assists.
Jordan (16-3-2): The PAC-Six 4A Conference co-champion Falcons reached the third round of the playoffs behind the play of Julie Perkins.
Panther Creek (14-4-1): The Catamounts came close to beating Green Hope last year and return seven starters. They have four juniors who have committed to play Division I soccer – keeper Celeste Barnard (Middle Tennessee State), Courtney Cash (East Carolina), defender Rachael Everhart (Charlotte) and striker Justin James (UNC Asheville). Junior Brianna Velasquez is at center midfield.
West Johnston (18-1-1) The Wildcats won the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference in 2013.
Carrboro (20-3-2): The Jaguars lost in overtime in the 2A quarterfinals but bring back two all-state players in midfielder Caroline Houser and defender Emma Houser.
Cleveland (18-2): The Rams look loaded for a Two Rivers 3A Conference run. Coach Marissa DiMarco has 10 starters back. Junior Emily Truelove scored 51 goals in 2013. Sophomore Briele Cochran was the team defensive MVP and junior goalie Katelyn Lowery had 10 shutouts. Senior Courtney Morris had 18 goals and five assists.
Cary (11-7-2): The Imps lost a lot to graduation but return junior Kyra Kandel and seniors Phoebe Shurtleff and Allison Weatherspoon.
Players to watch
Dominique Babbitt, Holly Springs, Sr.: South Carolina recruit and all-state midfielder for the 14-6-2 Golden Hawks had 10 goals and five assists. Senior Kathryn Vollratch led the Hawks with 13 goals.
Alexa Dreyer, Raleigh Charter, Sr.: The all-state midfielder (22 goals, 21 assists) returns to the NCHSAA 1A state runner-up Phoenix (20-2).
Rebecca Kenney, Cary Academy, Sr.: All-state forward had 12 goals for the 14-4 Charters.
Tara Nager, Durham Academy, Sr.: An all-state midfielder for the NCISAA semifinalist Cavaliers (15-2).
J. Mike Blake: 919-460-2606;