1. Scarborough: The Red Storm return only three starters from their Western Class A champion squad. Trouble? Not so much. Scarborough beat two expected contenders — Marshwood (2-1) and Massabesic (5-1) — to open the season, both times scoring two quick goals after giving up a goal. Juniors Abby Walker (five goals as a sophomore) and Maddy Dobecki (five goals) and senior Rachel Wallace (eight goals) are the three starters back. Junior Kaitlin Prince is a beast on defense, and senior Maggie Carbin already has three goals. 

2. Massabesic: The Mustangs have a group of proven, talented seniors, including all-SMAA players Alex Staples (midfield) and Jackie Guillemette (forward) and top midfielders Bailey Ohman, Logan Provencher and Lexi Foglio. “That core group has been playing since they were freshmen. They have a real good skill set,” said Coach Michelle Martin-Moore. “I think we’re in the conversation.” Senior goalie Abby Greenleaf now has a year under her belt, too. Staples suffered a concussion and missed most of the Scarborough game. 

3. York: Coach Barb Marois says her Wildcats “have probably as much depth as we’ve ever had,” so expect a strong run at a seventh Western B title in nine years. Senior forward Taylor Simpson has committed to Merrimack College and opened her season with a hat trick against Freeport. She has more offensive support this year from fellow captain Sarah Panteleos, senior Madeline Leroux, and sophomores Alie Jones (two goals in opener) and Devin Datsis. Captain Kathleen Cronin leads the revamped defense. Freshman Lily Posternak brings Junior Olympic experience. Libby Golini is replacing four-year goalie Amanda Kasbohm. 

4. Falmouth: The Yachtsmen are still playing a Class B schedule as members of the Western Maine Conference, but they’ll be in Western Class A for the playoffs if they make it that far, which they should. Seniors like Leika Scott, Jillian Rothweiler and Mikey Richards and top defender Haley Winslow make them a legitimate contender. Hillary Nash returns in goal. A season-opening 5-0 win on their home turf against Fryeburg serves notice. 

5. Marshwood: In junior midfielder Lindsey Poirier and senior defender Jun Shin, the Hawks have two of the top players at their positions. Replacing the leadership of graduated Sammy Crosman and Kaitlin Carr, who were instrumental in the Hawks’ climb from irrelevancy to the 2011 Western Class A title, will be a challenge. Senior captain and back Suzannah Blass and junior keeper Cassidy Smith could help fill that role. Senior Ashley Hickey is a speedy target for Poirier’s strong drives from the midfield. 

6. Lisbon: The defending Class C champions have 10 starters returning from a 17-0-1 club that unseated two-time state champion North Yarmouth Academy in the West before beating Winthrop to win its first state title. Hannah Jordan (22 goals) is among the state’s top snipers, and Stevie Charest is a veteran in the goal. Seniors Bailey Cutler and Molly Nicholson and junior Arianna Kahler are also leaders on a team that Coach Julie Wescott says is “working harder than we did last year.” 

7. Lake Region: The Lakers don’t have enough players for a full junior varsity, and Pauline Webb is the third head coach in the last 12 months. But Webb, a former assistant, does have high-scoring Lucy Fowler and nine other seniors back from a 14-2 team, including center midfielder Casey Heath and defender Courtney Yates. Junior goalie Meghan VanLoan also returns. Webb believes junior Abby Scott-Mitchell (two goals in the opener) adds a complementary scoring option. 

8. North Yarmouth Academy: Lisbon stopped the Panthers’ four-year reign in Western Class C (which included state titles in 2008, 2010, 2011). Injuries also played a part. Coach Tracy Quimby likes the idea of having a healthy Olivia Madore (mononucleosis last year) on the field with senior Kayla Rose and sophomore Juliana “Juju” Tardiff, who each had 12 goals and seven assists. Marina Poole and goalie Elizabeth Coughlin are year-round players. NYA will benefit from a tough schedule that includes several Class B schools, Class A Falmouth and a pair with hometown rival Yarmouth. 

9. Thornton Academy: Under Coach Lori Smith, the Trojans have been gradually climbing the SMAA ladder, and they return multi-year veterans in captain and play maker Lauren Russell, Morgan Dube (16 goals) and junior Dorina Sirois. Especially if senior goalie Gabrielle Capozzi plays as well as Smith expects, this could be the Trojans’ year to leap frog graduation-depleted traditional powers like Sanford, Westbrook and possibly Cheverus. 

10. Cheverus: The Stags graduated eight players who were part of their 2010 state runner-up squad and last year’s Western Maine runner-up team. That would probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 10 it not for the return of all-state center forward Elyse Caiazzo, center midfielder MaryKate Slattery and the SMAA’s top returning goalie — senior Libby DesRuisseaux. 

– Steve Craig, Staff Writer