Rocky Mountain edged rival Boise in a preseason poll of girls soccer coaches in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference. But conference play started Tuesday for a league that took first (Centennial), second (Boise) and third (Rocky Mountain) at state last year for the second year in a row, giving the Grizzlies a chance to live up to their billing and the other 11 teams a chance to knock them off.
Coach: Chris Siegenthaler, 16th season
Last year: 20-1-1, 10-0-1 5A SIC
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Returning all-conference: Maddy Watts, sr., M (first team); Olivia Reiten, sr., D (first team); Sierra Smith, sr., F (second team).
Breakdown: The Braves lost six starters off a club that went undefeated until the state finals, including Sophia Kallas, the conference player of the year, and Grace Hancock, a freshman starter at Washington State. The perennial power reloads behind a pair of Division II commits in Smith (Seattle Pacific) and Watts (Sonoma State). “We have players chomping at the bit to make their mark this season,” Siegenthaler said.
Coach: Steve Lucas, first season
Last year: 5-9-3, 2-6-3 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Lauren Reiber, so., D (second team); Madi Bryant, sr., D (honorable mention).
Breakdown: Lucas, the Boise State women’s coach from 2000-12, takes over a rebuilding project. The Lions began a youth movement last season and remain young with three freshmen playing key roles — midfielders Kylee Geis and Peyton McBride and defender Macy Nelson. “(We are a) very young team,” Lucas said. “However, the younger players have some high-level club experience.”
Coach: Jon Ruiz, fourth season
Last year: 1-11-5, 0-7-4 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Alexia Lancaster, jr., D (honorable mention).
Breakdown: Two-time all-conference goalkeeper Emilie Eckhart often bailed out the Eagles’ back line out in recent years. She graduated, but Ruiz said the defense shouldn’t need her as much with a stronger unit led by returners Lancaster and Casey Compton, as well as junior transfer Kolbie Adams and freshman Kerene Eustace. Offensively, Ruiz said to watch out for freshman Delaney Reed and sophomore Kennedi Paul.
Coach: Steve Snider, second season
Last year: 15-5-2, 8-2-1 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Brenna Davidson, jr., M (second team); Alexa Glick, sr., M (honorable mention).
Breakdown: The Patriots edged Boise for their first state title in school history last fall. But graduation and a pair of ACL injuries to Makenzie Malach, a College of Idaho commit, and Hansena DiNoia put Centennial in a tough spot to start the year. “We are missing a lot of pieces from last year, so getting everyone on that same page is our challenge right now,” Snider said. Snider can rely on Davidson, who scored three goals and tallied two assists at state, and Glick, who had two goals in the state finals.
Coach: Samantha Duke, fifth season
Last year: 8-8-3, 4-6-1 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Chloe Curry, sr., D (honorable mention); Zona Kinnaman, jr., M (honorable mention).
Breakdown: Columbia surprised in its move to 5A, finishing seventh in the regular season a year ago. The Wildcats return eight starters and 10 seniors. The back line remains a building block with the return of Curry and senior Cassie Vegas. Another year of experience should help their attack.
Coach: Stephanie Fornander, 17th season
Last year: 16-4-2, 8-1-2 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Emma Bailey, jr., F (first team); Maggie Burton, sr., GK (second team); Qarli Stone, sr., F (second team); Sarah Trumble, sr., D (second team).
Breakdown: The Mustangs return the top college prospects in the Treasure Valley with three Division I commits in Burton (Baylor), Bailey (BYU) and Stone (Troy). Bailey returns as the 5A SIC’s third-leading scorer from a year ago with 31 goals and nine assists (71 points), and Stone added 15 goals and 14 assists.
Coach: Rachel Schmidt, third season
Last year: 4-10-5, 2-6-3 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Meg Rooks, sr., D (second team).
Breakdown: The Warriors’ defense remained steady last season. But Schmidt knows for Meridian to advance to the next level, it’ll have to improve as an attacking team after netting just 29 goals last season. With seven returning starters and a couple key freshmen, the coach believes Meridian can take that next step. “We are more fit and more creative than last year,” she said.
MTN. VIEW MAVERICKS
Coach: Alyssa Gentle, sixth season
Last year: 9-10-2, 5-5-1 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Taylor McClellan, sr., GK (honorable mention).
Breakdown: The Mavs graduated their top scorer, Brenna Blaser, who is now at Eastern Washington. But another Division I commit, Keneika Webster (Cal State Bakersfield), should help fill the net in a lineup that Gentle said should be more potent offensively with seven returning starters. But the Mavs have to break in a two new center backs.
Coach: Jason Abrams, first season
Last year: 2-14-1, 1-9-1 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: None.
Breakdown: The Bulldogs won a single conference game in their first year at 5A, but Abrams said they return six starters and a strong defense alongside a central midfield with speed and tenacity. Center midfielder Jasmine Zavala leads Nampa’s attempt to move up the 5A SIC table. “She brings a great attitude, a strong work ethic and great skill to the field,” Abrams said.
ROCKY MTN. GRIZZLIES
Coach: Donal Kaehler, eighth season
Last year: 18-4-0, 9-2-0 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Raimee Sherle, sr., M (first team); Brecken Johanson, sr., M (second team); Lily Schlake, so., M (honorable mention).
Breakdown: The Grizzlies return eight starters and their entire central midfield, including the potent trio of Sherle, Johanson and Schlake that helped Rocky Mountain score a conference-high 102 goals last season. After graduating six players now on college rosters, Rocky Mountain doesn’t return a single starter from a defense that was the best in the conference (13 goals).
Coach: Ross Schultz, fifth season
Last year: 14-8-0, 8-3-0 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: Gabi Coprivincar, so., F (honorable mention).
Breakdown: Timberline must replace the conference’s leading scorer, Boise State freshman forward Allegra Weeks. Schultz will have options to choose from with six strikers battling for playing time, including Coprivincar and Brooke Felzein. “(It) will be a challenge to get them all on the field,” Schultz said. “They have pushed each other and love to run at defenders.”
Coach: Carlos Gonzalez, second year
Last year: 1-14-2, 0-10-1 5A SIC
Returning all-conference: None.
Breakdown: Vallivue continued to struggle in 2014, winning a single game after a winless 2013. Senior forward and leading goal scorer Felicitas Gonzalez returns for her fourth year on varsity, and six freshmen join her. That youth could lead to Vallivue’s most talented and fastest team in years.