1. Cheverus/Kennebunk: The Stags started turning heads last season (9-10) with the addition of Abby Lamontagne, who finished with 27 goals and 13 assists as a freshman. This year the team adds junior Zoe Mazur, who Coach Scott Rousseau calls one of the top defensemen in the South. Cheverus/Kennebunk also will benefit from talented freshmen Emma McCauley and Lucia Pompeo – younger sister to junior forward Sophia Pompeo – as well as a transfer from Falmouth, defenseman Sarah Noyes. Rousseau said senior Anna Smith also has developed into a solid goalkeeper.

2. Scarborough: After falling to Falmouth in the South final, the Red Storm (14-5-1) return key players and boast a lot of depth. Forwards Lucy Bogdanovich, a senior, and Taylor Veilleux, a junior, are expected to lead the offense. Defensively, the Red Storm suffered tough losses to graduation, including defenseman Lily Nygren and goalkeeper McKenzie Cormier. But they retain junior Courtney Brochu (10 assists and six goals), one of the top defensemen in the South. The Red Storm also has a new coach in Caitlin Jordan, who is replacing longtime coach Caitlin D’Amour. The Red Storm’s success likely will hinge on their goalkeeping.

3. Greely/Gray-NG: The Rangers (17-3), who lost to St. Dominic in the last two North finals, return their top playmaker in Courtney Sullivan – a senior who had 29 goals and 10 assists last year. She has 77 career goals. Coach Nate Guerin also will rely on Bridget Roberts (15 goals and 11 assists) and Molly Horton on offense. The Rangers graduated some key players but Guerin expects Sullivan to pick up any slack and “win a handful of games by herself.”

4. Falmouth: The defending Southern Maine champion (16-5) lost four seniors in Evie Clement, Devon Sarazin, Caroline Proctor and goalkeeper Ally Hurdman – all four-year varsity players. The Yachtsmen also are experiencing what Coach Rob Carrier called an “anomalous year” in that they have no freshmen, though he expects an incoming class of seven or eight next year. Carrier will rely on Kayla Sarazin (five goals and 10 assists) and Abigail Lebel (14 goals and 10 assists) to anchor the defense in front of goalkeeper Julia Bonnvie. The Carmichael sisters – Stone and Reade – will lead the offense. “Our forwards are a little bit different from years past,” Carrier said, “so we’ll have to be more of a grind-it-out offense than the skilled possession type of team we have been.”

5. Portland/Deering: Over the past three years, the Bulldogs (1-17) lost 44 of 54 games. This season likely will be much different, suggested by a 6-4 preseason win over Scarborough. Portland/Deering is experiencing a surge of new talent with seven freshmen as well as a North Yarmouth Academy transfer, Emily Demers. Demers will serve as one of the Bulldogs’ top threats, with freshman Caroline Lerch and junior Inez Braceras also likely to contribute on offense. Defensively, freshman Emma Merrill – a speedy skater – will serve as a game-changer for the up-and-coming program. Behind new coach, Tom Clifford – whose daughter, Kim, is a freshman defenseman – the Bulldogs look poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

– Taylor Vortherms

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