An overtime loss to Carmel ended Homestead's quest for its first girls soccer title last season, but a new season offers renewed hope for a championship as the 2019 season gets underway.
Homestead: The Spartans have lost five seniors from their run to the state title game, but they still have plenty of firepower in Ameila White, Mary McArdle and Lauren Moelleran, among others.
Bellmont: The defending Marion regional and NE8 champs lost Kristen Harvey, who scored 31 goals in 2018, and goalie Sarah Enterline but the rest of the NE8 and Class 2A shouldn't breathe easy, as the team that outscored opponents 106-9 returns every other player who scored more than two goals last season.
Bishop Dwenger: The Saints went 6-1 in the SAC and won their 12th sectional title last season and All-SAC honorees Callie and Erynn Burns and Ellen Hartzog are all back.
Carroll: The Chargers went 14-4-3 last season before falling to Homestead in a regional semifinal shootout. They've lost Cali Geiger, who was named second-team all-state, but return Kelsi Hoot, the team's second-leading scorer.
Warsaw: The Tigers went 12-5-1 and reached the sectional finals with a roster full of underclassmen.
Amelia White, Homestead: The rising sophomore helped the USA U-15 girls team to a gold medal in the CFA International Women's Youth Football Tournament in China last year. White has verbally committed to play at Penn State after her graduation in 2022. She scored all five of the Spartans' goals against Carroll in the 2018 regional semifinals.
Audrie Day and Emily Gutman, Concordia: Day was a first-team All-SAC selection in 2018, and she and her fellow senior Gutman each scored 12 goals for the Cadets as juniors.
Madi Smith, South Adams: The junior scored 20 goals as a sophomore, averaging more than one a game for the 9-6-1 Starfires.
Rylie Velez, Bellmont: Velez scored 30 goals and assisted on 13 more.
Emily McKinley, Angola: A first-team All-NECC selection as a junior, McKinley was the second-leading scorer for the Hornets with 12 goals in 2018.
Wayne worries: The Generals enjoyed a strong season in 2018, going 5-2 in the SAC and 13-4 overall while averaging 4.6 goals. But the scorers of 48 of those goals, Kara Gerber and April Salazar, have graduated, as has all-SAC goalie Amber Minnick. How will the Generals fare without them?
Vikings star rising: Huntington North's Addy Wiley will try to play soccer and run cross country this season after winning the 1,600-meter as a freshman at the state track meet this spring. Will she be able to improve on her breakout 12-goal season?
Strong sectional: Wayne and Huntington North are slated for Class 3A Sectional 7 alongside Warsaw and Homestead, with South Side rounding out the group. Not counting South Side, the combined 2018 record of these teams was 55-18-1. The Spartans might be the favorites, but no round of the playoffs is a guarantee with a sectional this stacked.
Spartans soaring: That being said, Homestead is tied for fourth-most sectional titles in the state, with 18. Center Grove leads the pack with 22, but Evansville Memorial and Lake Central each have 19, and another sectional win could tie Homestead in second place.
Cavs question: Canterbury claimed its fifth sectional title last season – a season in which the Cavaliers won just three matches. Was the sectional title indicative of a favorable draw and a lucky result against Blackhawk Christian, or a sign that Canterbury, which won Class A titles in 2014 and 2015, is ready for a return to form?
– Victoria Jacobsen, The Journal Gazette