1. Biddeford: The Tigers aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this year. After losing only two starters off a team that lost in the regional finals a year ago, Biddeford is clearly the team to beat in Class A South. It’s an experienced, talented and athletic group that is making the move to artificial turf – which should just make the Tigers even more dangerous. They’re going to score a lot, with the likes of Paige Laverriere (heading to Assumption College), Abby Allen, Hailey Allen (Merrimack College) and Megan Mourmouras. And they can play defense, led by goalie Taylor Wildes, a four-year starter. Senior Harmonie Coolbroth and freshman Jillian McSorley should have big seasons as well.

2. Westbrook: The defending regional champs aren’t going to go away quietly. The Blazes have a lot of talent returning from last year, led by senior forward Avery Tucker, who scored a school-record 20 goals last year and has committed to Saint Anselm College, and senior goalie Kim Goddard, who is starting her fourth year. But they’re not alone. Senior midfielder Abby Symbol is a key figure in the Blazes’ transition game. Juniors Morgan LeBeau, Katie Champagne and Mary Keef were key contributors last year. The Blazes have to fill in some defensive slots, but if they can find the right combination in front of Goddard, they’ll be among the league’s best again.

3. Cheverus: The Stags, who lost in the quarterfinals a year ago, have plenty of talent. Senior center midfielder Sophia Pompeo is one of the state’s top players, heading to Providence College next year. Senior forward Bella Booth and sophomore Lucia Pompeo, who was battling a hip injury in preseason, are among the SMAA’s top forwards. And a pair of sophomores, Paige DeGeorge and Madisyn Durgin, are solid in the midfield. Senior Anna Sawicki provides a lot of versatility and will likely lead the defense in front of new goalie Hannah Woodford. If the 11 freshmen joining the program can fill in the open slots, this will be a dangerous team.

4. Scarborough: The Red Storm remain the measuring stick of all teams in Class A South, with five regional and two state titles in the last 10 years. And they’re going to be right in the mix again this year. Scarborough has a core group of four outstanding players in senior defender Anna Walker and senior center midfielder Caitlin Tyrell and junior forward Carrie Timpson and junior midfielder Hannah Dobecki. Coach Kerry Mariello spent much of the season trying to find the right combinations and build the confidence of her younger players. Do not overlook the Red Storm.

5. York: Yep, Barb Marois stepped down as coach and the Wildcats lost some pretty talented players off another regional championship team. But don’t expect York to take a step back. Nora Happny takes over a group of talented players, led by a strong defensive group. Seniors Emlyn Patry and Katie Donovan lead the team in front of returning goalie Julianna Kiklis. Junior Bailey Oliver, at center midfield, sophomore Christina Dargie, at midfield, and freshman Sage Works, on defense, will be key contributors as well. York has plenty of championship experience and that cannot be overlooked.

6. Thornton Academy: The Trojans have been one of the SMAA’s most consistent playoff contenders in recent years and they’ll be in the mix again. Senior forward Cat Henaire is a big-time scorer and was a first-team SMAA all-star last year. Senior goalie Jenica Botting is healthy and could be a huge factor on the back line. Senior Abby Pomerleau will be a leader in the midfield. Juniors Lily Stark and Jaigan Boudreau have looked good in preseason. This is a team that could make a charge at any of the top teams in Class A South.

7. Freeport: Nine seniors return from a team that advanced to the quarterfinals last fall. This year, with a move to the school’s new artificial turf field, Coach Marcia Wood is hoping for an even deeper run in the playoffs. Senior forward Alexa Koenig is one of the top players in the area, a returning all-Western Maine Conference and coaches’ all-state selection. But she’s not the only scorer on the team. Senior Natalie Anderson led Freeport with 13 goals last year. Sophomores Hannah Groves and Ally Randall each had six. The midfield is filled with players who gained a lot of varsity experience last year.

8. Mt. Ararat: The Eagles reached the Class A North quarterfinals last year, losing in overtime. There’s a good chance they’ll go even deeper this year. A key will be figuring out the defense. Coach Krista Chase has some solid forwards returning in Wyley Fitzpatrick (an all-state selection last year with 10 goals and 11 assists) and Brea Holtet and a steady center midfielder in senior Holly Temple, who keys the transition game. Sophomore midfielder Hannah Huston adds a lot of versatility. But the Eagles need to find the right combination in front of returning junior goalies Lily Schenk and Emma Lapreziosa.

9: Gorham: Here’s what one SMAA coach said about the Rams, “They’re fast. Really fast.” They play like a turf team on grass and that’s going to make Gorham really tough to beat. The Rams are led by senior midfielder Hailey Morrill, junior center-midfielder Faith Dillon, sophomore forward Lydia Gaudreau, senior defender Sarah Stevens and senior midfielder Isis Adams. Lydia McCrillis moves into the goalie spot. This team has talent, athletic ability and skills. And they could be a very dangerous opponent.

10: Marshwood: It’s easy to overlook the Hawks, tucked down in the southwest corner of York County. It would be a mistake to do that. Start with senior forward Leah Glidden, who has committed to play at Merrimack College. She’s a returning all-SMAA pick and brings a level of skill and speed to the game that is hard to cover. Sophomore Corrin Hasty joins her on the forward line, but can – and will – play anywhere on the field where she’s needed. Senior center midfielder Melanie Dube is solid as is sophomore midfielder Isabella Schultze. Goalie Sarah Arenberg returns from last year.

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