Last year’s 4A state champions will have a much different look this year.
Green Hope, which went 28-0 en route to a No. 1 national ranking and is 72-3 over the past three seasons, hasn’t lost a regular-season game since 2011.
The Falcons graduated most of last year’s team, however, including two players – Alexis Shaffer and Alexis Degler – who combined to win four state player-of-the-year awards over their last two seasons. There is also a new coach, as Michael Hoy begins his first season after guiding the boys team to the 4A East final in the fall.
Seniors Amanda Lasater and Kenly Sigmon (9 goals, 10 assists), both Elon recruits, have been vital players for the Falcons over the past two seasons and will have more chances to make an impact this year.
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Panther Creek (14-4-1 last season) came close to beating Green Hope last year and returns all but one player from a year ago. The Catamounts will have four juniors who have committed to play Division I soccer: goalkeeper Celeste Barnard, Courtney Cash, defender Rachael Everhart and forward Emma Socha.
Gretchen Dettlinger and Alex Pagano are among the top Panther Creek seniors.
Holly Springs (10-5-1) finished third in the league thanks in part to all-state midfielder Dominique Babbitt (10 goals, five assists) and fellow returnee senior Kathryn Vollrath (13 goals, three assists).
Cary (8-6-2) loses some of its top players but will have junior Kyra Kandel and seniors Phoebe Shurtleff and Allison Weatherspoon.
Apex (6-8-2) eked into the playoffs last year as a young team. The Cougars will have senior Angie Reckendorf and junior Alex Graf, among others.
Middle Creek (6-8-2), led by reigning conference coach of the year Kevin Ebner, returns all-conference players in Abby Coffey and Katie Weisner (14 goals, three assists). Senior Jade Loftis also returns.
Senior Riley Nociti (11 goals, two assists) leads the way for Athens Drive (4-10-2) along with all-conference selections Daria Draovitch, a sophomore midfielder (three goals, two assists), and Natalie Van Genderen, a junior defender.
Although Fuquay-Varina (4-11-1) was near the bottom of last season’s conference standings, it returns four of its top five scorers. Seniors Christina Oliveres and Valerie Biesack join all-conference junior midfielder Katie Cockerill, junior Rebekah Furr and sophomores Megan Greene (nine goals, four assists) and Kelley Suggs, who have both committed to play at Charlotte.