Etowah, meanwhile, will face the tough task of rebuilding as the girls soccer season opens.
Teams were allowed to play official games beginning Monday, but because of the weather conditions and the cancellation of activities and classes, none of the county’s teams were able to get a game in. Teams weren’t permitted to begin practicing until Jan. 20, which has left many squads working out in the cold.
River Ridge has been working out with a lot of motivation.
The Lady Knights just missed out on a Region 7AAAA title and have set their sights on it again this season. In 2013, they advanced into the state quarterfinals before falling to Veterans 1-0.
Because River Ridge will be moving up to Class AAAAA next year, this may be its best chance of winning a girls soccer title for several seasons.
If it is to do it, River Ridge will have to do it without last year’s star, Shannon Driscoll, who is now playing at Kennesaw State.
Still, coach Sarah Goodbread believes she has a great group of players she feels want to work hard and do well.
Leading them will be a couple of underclassmen in sophomore Brooke DeSantis and junior Alexis Lewis. On defense, the Lady Knights will look to seniors Aubrey Wooten and Chanel Mosely, who will be taking moving on Shorter next year.
In Class AAAAA, Creekview and Sequoyah will be looking to move up in the region standings and qualify for the state playoffs.
Last year, Creekview went 9-9 and missed out on the state playoffs by one goal. The final spot in Region 7AAAAA was decided by a tiebreaker.
The Lady Grizzlies graduated three seniors, who contributed at times, but they were all sidelined with injuries for at least a portion of the season.
This year, senior attacking midfielder and forward Bailey Katzenstein wants a different ending.
Katzenstein, who is weighing several options to play at the college level, will be joined by junior midfielders Samantha Schoppy and Kayleigh Artise. At center back will be sophomore Samantha Rolka, and to her right will be sophomore outside back Maddie Hill.
Creekview coach Kerri Schmitt is excited about having a group of hard-working players and hopes a return to the state playoffs will be in the Lady Grizzlies’ future.
Sequoyah finds itself in a similar position as it hopes to improve upon a 7-11 record. Still, coach Bill Dillon is expecting big things.
“With our heart, focus, and fitness, I believe we are capable of beating everyone on our schedule,” Dillon said.
The Lady Chiefs graduated Adrienne Hatch, Ashley Stanfield and Lisbeth Colman, but return their core from last season. Among them are senior forward Jordan Kohn, junior goalkeeper Catie Cangemi and junior defender Kyli Schmitt. Sequoyah will also feature two key freshmen in midfielder Kara Haim and defender Briana Outlaw.
In Class AAAAAA, Etowah is just beginning its rebuilding, but coach John Murnan doesn’t expect to miss a beat, and he expects his team to advance to the state playoffs for the fifth straight year. The Lady Eagles sent five players from last season’s 13-6 squad on to play in college.
“We lost a great group of seniors from last season, but we have a tremendous group of young and returning players stepping in,” Murnan said. “The attitude of the team is great and they have been a pleasure to work with.”
Among the leaders on the team are senior captains Kelsey Meyers and Bella Fornuto. Other returners include seniors Erin Rodman and Schyler Folsom, junior Hannah Moore and sophomore Samantha Forbes.
Newly appointed Woodstock coach Jenae Rose will have the task of turning around a squad that finished 7-9 last season. Still, Rose believes the Lady Wolverines aren’t shy about fulfilling her goals of winning a region title and competing for a state championship.
“We have strong players, all the way from the seniors down to the freshmen,” Rose said. “As the new head coach, I am excited about the talent on our team and I am excited to start playing some games.”
Cherokee coach Chrissy Syrios will also be trying to move her team up in the Region 5AAAAAA standings after finishing 7-8 in 2013.
The Lady Warriors return all of their starters aside from their goalkeeper. Center midfielders Lauren Moss and Victoria Cassidy, a Reinhardt commitment, will be counted on to roam the field. Sam Thornton, who led the team in scoring as a freshman, will also be key. Junior Emaleigh Adcox will anchor the defense.
Syriors said that with the addition of some talented freshmen, her team has what it takes to win the region.
Cherokee Tribune sports writer Tyler Spinnenweber contributed to this report.