GIRLS SOCCER PREVIEW: Area teams look to improve, stay competitive

By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports

Girls soccer is likely the area’s most competitive sport with Port Charlotte, North Port, Lemon Bay and Charlotte all being teams with legitimate postseason aspirations.

In most cases, all four of those teams are returning a majority of starters from last year, and will only improve on what they did in the 2015-16 season.

Doren Staley and Grace Stec are a pair of key veterans for the Pirates, who will look to make even bigger impacts than they did last year. Newcomer Isabella Reyes could also prove to be a difference-maker for Port Charlotte.

For the Bobcats, the continued growth of AD Troche, who showed strong scoring ability as a freshman last year  will be impactful. Hayley Royer, Isabelle Rodgers and Augusta Purvis in the back will make North Port one of the best defensive teams in the area.

Manta Ray Summer Rusher scored 15 goals with 16 assists last season and will likely have a case to make for all-area player of the year when the 2017 season comes to an end.

The Tarpons, with forward Caitlyn Lowery and sister Brooke on defense, have a core of returners whose experience will help lead them to improvements this year.

PORT CHARLOTTE

COACH: Chip Stec
YEARS: 6th year
LAST SEASON: 11-9-4
DISTRICT: 3A-14; Teams: Cape Coral, Cypress Lake, Dunbar, Island Coast, Lemon Bay, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Port Charlotte
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Jeydon Sultan, Shelby Morales
KEY RETURNERS: Grace Stec (GK, JR), Doren Staley (Jr., CB), Teala Brown (Sr., F), Alden Goucher (Sr., MF), Brittany McGivern (Sr., MF), Asia Nazieko (Sr., MF)
KEY NEWCOMERS: Isabella Reyes (So., F), Corrine Bresky (Jr., OB),
OUTLOOK: It will be tough to replace Jeydon Sultan, but the Pirates return a strong starting 11, and will likely be much improved from what was already a strong season last year. Most coaches in any sport will say they want more depth, but Chip Stec feels his team is deep, and won’t lose much when he turns to his substitutes.

NORTH PORT

COACH: Bill Callan

LAST SEASON: 12-4-1; 2nd place in district, regional quarterfinals

DISTRICT: 4A-11; Teams: Braden River, Charlotte, North Port, Palmetto, Venice
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Saravya Kamarajugadda
KEY RETURNERS: Alexis Abene (Sr., F/D), Lisa Botleho (Jr., MF), Samantha Freitas (Jr., MF) Kayla Gordon-Sommers (Sr., GK), Alexis Howarth (Sr., MF), Jordann Kinkin (GK), Abey Nottingham (So., MF), Augusta Purvis (Jr., D), Isabelle Rodgers (Sr., D), Hayley Royer (Sr., MF), AD Troche (So., MF), Nina Troche (Sr., F).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Seraiah Bailey (So., D), Arianne Guerra (Jr., F), Alyssa McGinnis (Jr., MF), Cameron Mckinley (So., MF).
OUTLOOK: The core of last year’s team, which was the most successful in school history, is returning this year. It’s now a senior-heavy team with experience in winning. Hayley Royer will captain the team this season. Callan is in his first year as head coach, but isn’t a newcomer to the program. He has spent the last two years with the junior varsity, so the familiarity with his players should make for an easy transition.

LEMON BAY

COACH: Katie Cooke
LAST SEASON: 17-10-1

DISTRICT: 3A-14; Teams: Cape Coral, Cypress Lake, Dunbar, Island Coast, Lemon Bay, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Port Charlotte
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Bailee McNamee
KEY RETURNERS: Summer Rusher (Sr., F), Stephanie Tieu (Sr., F), Hope Robson (MF), Marissa Nebel, D).
KEY NEWCOMERS: Zoe Melo (Fr., F) Oakley Maki (So., MF)
OUTLOOK: The Manta Rays were on the cusp of taking that next step last year, and will likely compete for a district title this year. With Summer Rusher and Stephanie Tieu leading the attack in their senior seasons, Lemon Bay could be looking at its first regional appearance in more than a decade. Plus, they also have Marissa Nebel returning as one of the best defenders in the area.

CHARLOTTE

COACH: Amanda Carr
LAST SEASON: 6-10-2, 4th place in district
DISTRICT: 4A-11; Teams: Braden River, Charlotte, North Port, Palmetto, Venice
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Emilie Booth
KEY RETURNERS: Caitlyn Lowery, Brooke Lowery, Anacely Zervos, Avery Carlton, Cheyenne Gaudemer, Morgan Brown, Sydney Kruger, Ashlyn Nims.
KEY NEWCOMERS: Emma Mithel
OUTLOOK: With first-year head coach Amanda Carr, the Tarpons will look to improve on a season where last year’s record didn’t match the talent. There is a lot of experience up and down the roster in Charlotte. Goalkeeper Cheyenne Gaudemer has another year under her belt, sisters Caitlyn and Brooke Lowery will continue to make a big impact, and Avery Carlton will also help lead a strong defense.

IMAGINE SCHOOL

COACH: Dennis Leach
LAST SEASON: 3-13
DISTRICT: 1A-7; Teams: Bradenton Christian, Imagine School, St. Stephen’s, Sarasota Christian, Out-of-Door Academy,
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Stephanie Legge, Melissa Fierro, Eunice Ortiz, Sarah Hunt
KEY RETURNERS: Jessica Wimmer (F), Mackenzie Runyon (D/MF)
KEY NEWCOMERS: Lily Hunt, Holly Freund (CB/MF)
OUTLOOK: The loss of Stephanie Legge is a hefty one for the Sharks, but this young team will look to get past the play-in game of the district tournament for the first time. Returnees Jessica Wimmer and Mackenzie Runyon will lead the team, as newcomers Lily Hunt and Holly Freund look to make big impacts on a young team.

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