Cheverus’ Lucy Johnson gets past Windham players during the Class A South championship game last November. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

1. Cheverus: The defending Class A South champs aren’t quite as loaded as last year. Taylor Tory, one of the best scorers in state history has graduated, as have Olivia McCartney and defensive leaders Elle Cooney and Madeline Fowler. Few teams, however, can match Cheverus’ firepower. Lucy Johnson is the best offensive player in the state, Boston University-bound Lily Johnson is among Maine’s best midfielders and sophomore midfielder Joey Pompeo is ready for a big year. Freshman Sydney Brunelle also brings an impressive offensive game and could be a contributor right away. All the Stags need is for a rebuilt defense to click, and they’ll be formidable once again.

2. Freeport: No one expected big things from the freshman-heavy Falcons last year. Then it became clear that those freshmen, led by forward Emily Groves (24 goals), could play. Midfielder Lizalyn Boudreau and forwards Reed Proscia, Liza Flower and Lilliana Larochelle are also standouts from that group that have formed the core for the defending Class B South champions. Juniors Anna Maschino and Sydney Gelhar also played key roles last year. A key question: After sneaking up on teams last year, are the Falcons ready to wear the target?

3. Biddeford: The Tigers have some key holes to fill, starting with Varsity Maine All-State midfielder Kiki Jackson and prolific scorer Cece Keller, but they offset that with players who impressed as underclassmen last year. Junior Ayla Lagasse is one of the region’s top offensive players and scorers, and junior Eliza Doyon and sophomore Kayla Magnant, a natural playmaker, should ensure Biddeford remains one of the better offensive and defensive teams in the SMAA. The Tigers do, though, need a top scorer to emerge alongside Lagasse. Corinne Ramunno, a sophomore forward, could be that player.

Gorham players celebrate a goal by Hannah Bickford (No. 1, center). Now a senior, Bickford has 13 career goals and 21 assists for a program that upset Biddeford in the playoffs last fall. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

4. Gorham: The Rams stunned Biddeford in the A South playoffs before losing to an equally surprising Windham team, but they should be in play for a high seed this season. Midfielder and top playmaker Hannah Bickford returns after earning first-team all-SMAA status, and forward Brooke Farquhar (12 goals last season) and midfielder Annabelle Collier will give Gorham a lot of punch on offense. On the other end, defenders Julia Wareham, Ella Downing and Kayla McLean return to starting roles. This team is poised for a run.

5. Noble: An also-ran for years, Noble rose to contention with a 10-4 record last year and looks to continue its surge. Ella Anania, a two-time first-team SMAA selection, has 13 career goals, and senior Malia Petelo brings a gritty presence at midfield. Trinity Valle returns in goal, where she had nine shutouts last season. Defense is a strength for this squad. The question is offense, as Sacred Heart-commit Jenna Baxter is out of the lineup indefinitely because of an injury. If Noble finds scorers, it’ll be a major threat.

6. York: The Wildcats lost seven seniors to graduation, including four Western Maine Conference all-stars, but rebuilding never seems to happen on Coach Barb Marois’ watch. You’d have to go back to 2007 to find the last season York failed to win at least 10 games. While there are holes to fill for the Wildcats, few teams have proven more adept at filling them. Seniors Ava Brent and Olivia Coite will be the leaders for York this season, and juniors Sophia Luchette and Emma Joyce should step into larger roles. Natalie Dickson returns in goal.


Maggie Pendergast of Scarborough passes the ball to teammate Sabrina Ocampo during a Class A South field hockey quarterfinal last October. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

7. Scarborough: The Red Storm have graduated 19 players over the last two years, but Coach Kerry Mariello’s team always manages to keep the wins coming. Scarborough will be strong in the midfield, where Maggie Pendergast is an experienced and skilled player and Caroline Hartley is a captain. The Red Storm also have returning contributors at forward in Emma Lally and in goal with Jamila Mohamed, who will lead an otherwise new defense. Sophomores Sabrina Ocampo (midfield) and Laine Niles (forward) should be impact players, and there are impressive freshmen coming up as well.

8. Cape Elizabeth: The Capers went 13-3 last season and reached the B South semifinals, but will need to replace a lot of scoring, including 40 combined goals from Grace Gray and Kaitlyn McIntyre. Should they find it, everything else shakes out pretty well for the Capers. Four-year starter Zoe Burgard is back in goal, the entire defense of Jenna Tuttle, Piper Rickman and Abby Marks returns in front of her. Midfielders Sophia Chung and Lulu Stoecklein are back after impressive seasons. They might not score as much, but the Capers should be tough.

9. Thornton Academy: Even after losing the SMAA’s player of the year in Zoey Pennell, the Trojans should still be one of the conference’s best defensive teams. Center back Julia Elie takes Pennell’s place as the defensive anchor and is good at keeping her backfield mates in sync, a group that includes skilled players in Jordan Dube, Ella Riley and Ava Libby. Offense is a little more of a question mark, but Thornton will have a strong center midfielder in Danica Hebert. Cora Bolduc and Olivia Dube could emerge as scorers.

10. Windham: Last year, Windham shook off a slow start to reach the A South final. The Eagles will have their work cut out for them this fall; eight starters graduated, including the entire defensive backfield. This year, offense will be a strength for Windham. Zoe Dries (12 goals) and Grace Joly (six goals) were two of the Eagles’ three top scorers, and Dries in particular brings a versatile game and good defensive anticipation to the forward position. Abby Trainor is another potential standout at forward. If a rebuilt defense led by junior and converted midfielder Ava Gerrity clicks, Windham could again be a tough out.

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