Cardinal Gibbons fell in overtime of the N.C. High School Athletic Association championship game, but returns key pieces from that team.
The Crusaders have either gone to the title game or lost to the eventual East regional winner in each of the past three years.
Last year’s final N&O top 15
1. Cardinal Gibbons (19-2): Junior Jordan Lappin was an all-American, scoring 90 goals with 39 assists. She was the title game MVP despite the loss. There will be no shortage of goals with Erica Skowron (61 goals, 53 assists), Morgan Winstead (33 goals, 52 assists), Elizabeth Wilson (44 goals) and Sarah Boney (22 goals, 22 assists).
2. Apex (13-3): The East runners-up bring back Kristen Maselli (33 goals, 10 assists) and Graci Fulkerson (32 goals, 18 assists). Tess Meurling gives Apex three returning all-conference players.
3. Wakefield (17-1): The Wolverines can score in bunches thanks to Casey Sprague (48 assists), Megan Blawas (68 goals, 31 assists), Julie Anne Pretty (30 goals) and Hanna Anderson (49 goals). Senior goalie Jessica Lynch made 123 saves on 196 shots.
4. Durham Academy (11-5): NCISAA runners-up are led by juniors Madison Dunk (Duke recruit) and Hannah Pope (North Carolina) and senior Leander Perun.
5. Ravenscroft (12-4): Senior Anna Collawn (46 goals, 34 assists) is a two-time N&O All-Metro pick.
6. Broughton (13-3): Senior Farrell Guest (60 goals, 23 assists) leads the way. Carol Seigler (35 goals, 31 assists) is also back.
7. Chapel Hill (11-4): Senior Paige Haskins (50 goals, 20 assists) and sophomore Shannon Wulff (39 goals) provide a scoring punch.
8. East Chapel Hill (9-7): Lena Johnson (62 goals) and Reilly Reed (25 goals) lead the way offensively. Cassidy Fourtney won 60 percent of her draws.
9. Athens Drive (9-6): The Jaguars will miss Madeline Bromley’s 102 goals from last year. Senior Erin Kenedy (35 goals, 10 assists) is a returning first-team all-conference selection.
10. Middle Creek (10-4): Junior Sam Caputo (36 goals, 23 assists) and senior Maddy Boudreau (27 goals, 18 assists) are top scoring options, joining fellow veterans Maddie Dahlgren and goalie Haley Whitfield.
Other teams to watch
Green Hope (8-6): The Falcons, under first-year coach Bob Stanley, are led by the senior trio of Allie Winiecki, Quincy Smith (37 goals) and Maddie McKinley.
Heritage (9-7): Caroline Savage (35 goals), Carly Sullivan (23) and Lexi Beaudet (20) lead the way.
Sanderson (8-11): Hope Kaney (35 goals) and Aubrey Nagle (29 goals) provide the scoring. Sydney Hardee is one of the area’s top goalies.
Individuals to watch
Megan Collins, Jr., Panther Creek: 36 goals for 5-8 Catamounts.
Mackenzie Cox, Soph., Carrboro: 37 goals for 5-10 Jaguars.
Grace Fleming, Soph., Apex Friendship: Started at Panther Creek last year and scored 22 goals.
Dana Floria, Soph., Millbrook: 30 goals for 9-7 Wildcats.