If there is going to be any shakeup to the usual Currituck and First Flight dominance at the top of the Northeastern Coastal Conference, Edenton could be the team that breaks through.
The Lady Aces will have 15 players back with starting experience, and two freshmen that coach Alicia Cassidy-Quate consider probable starters this year .
“I am excited about the possibilities for the team this season,” Cassidy-Quate said. “Every player on the team this season is very different and brings something special to the table.”
What the other three NCC area teams bring to the table will also unfold this spring, as well as how Camden’s experience will help it try and win the Four Rivers Conference against league rival Manteo.
Coach: Tony Vardaro, 2nd season
Last year’s record: 15-5, 8-2 Northeastern Coastal
Outlook: The Lady Knights’ recent success should be motivation to stay ahead of the pack this year, even with more youth than usual, coach Tony Vardaro said.
“The keys to the season are building on last year’s good season and bringing this young team together,” Vardaro said.
Currituck will cling to a strong defense, which will feature seniors Marrena Glanville, an All-Area selection; Marina Pickell and Katie Gorza, along with sophomore goalie Haley Naquin.
Vardaro said his offense will be stronger if senior forward Haley Hopkins can stay healthy. Breeanna Fulton and freshman Sydnie Phillips are also forwards along with Andrea Birchler and Amanda Doherty in the midfield.
Coach: Alicia Cassidy-Quate, 3rd season
Last year’s record: 8-12, 6-4 NCC
Outlook: Four-year starting defenders Molly High and Maggie Creed and All-Area picks Ellie Whichard, a forward who had 20 goals and 16 assists a year ago, and midfielder Emma McCarthy will lead the Lady Aces, but there’s a lot more that excites coach Alicia Cassidy-Quate about the team.
“I feel incredibly lucky this season to have such a strong team and such a dynamic group of players,” coach Alicia Cassidy-Quate said. “This is a unique season where almost every player on the team has played for me for the past three years and is familiar with the style of soccer I teach and the expectations I have.”
The versatile Peri Peeler can play any position and was an all-conference choice last year.
Other experienced players include defender Tessa Coughtrey, keeper Theresa Stryzewski, midfielders Mary Glen Ryan and Lacey Hope and forward Hadiya Bembry.
Freshmen Kate Whichard, a defender, and Caroline Boyce, a keeper, will also see playing time.
Coach: Waylon Joyner, 5th season
Last year’s record: 5-9-2, 3-6-1 NCC
Outlook: The Lady Eagles will also have experience on their side with seven starters back from 2012.
“They will give us very good leadership,” NHS coach Waylor Joyner said.
Among the returning standouts are Kayla Twiford, who will be in goal for the third season; Sam DeLaVergne, who led the team with 10 goals and made the All-Area team; and defender Sarah Scott, another All-Area pick. Whitney Gregory, Ali Pfeiffer and Brianna Ruetten are other returning starters.
Joyner said the development and contributions of nine new players to the team will be a major factor in the Lady Eagles’ success.
Coach: Chuck Leslie, 4th season
Last year’s record: 11-4-3, 3-1 Four Rivers
Outlook: Camden coach Chuck Leslie knows he will have to shuffle players around after losing six seniors from last year’s team.
Good thing there are freshmen such as Kaylee Wells and Sarah Nelson to help the transition.
“We have a couple of strong freshmen who be starters due to their ball skills, hustle and overall ability,” Leslie said.
The Lady Bruins return three All-Area players: forward Emily Watts, midfielder Amanda Gillikin and defender Selena Garber. Watts and Gillikin both netted 10 goals last year.
Also back are defender Caroline Sawyer and midfielder Caroline Robinson.
One big question mark is in goal, which was occupied by the graduated Shyanne Stone, a former Daily Advance Player of the Year.
“Keeper will be a key issue, we have four girls trying out for the position, but until we figure out who the key player is there, it will be a concern,” Leslie said.
Coach: Pete Herrington, first season
Last year’s record: 4-10-1, 2-7-1 NCC
Outlook: Six returning starters, a roster that includes few seniors and a good attitude have Lady Panthers coach Pete Herrington feeling optimistic about the future.
“We have a lot of athletic, hard-working athletes,” he said. “Our goals are to build as a team through communication and dedication and create a team which is willing to return next year even stronger.”
Junior co-captains Kali Smith, a midfielder, and Hannah Hughes, a defender, head a list of returnees that also includes Raven Arnold, Daysia Phillips, JadeAnn Miller and Amanda Duncan.
Freshmen Megan Miller, Molly Simmons, Gabrielle Bernhardt and Kristen Atkins will help round out the team along with juniors Rachel Hanson, Natasha Vaughan and Amber North and sophomore Nadia Brumfeld.