NHIAA Girls' Soccer Preview
Only Exeter, in Division I, is a clear-cut favorite
Bedford High goalkeeper Brooke Barrett is shown during practice on Friday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
'The Scoop": Girls' SoccerStorylines: Can Exeter make it five in a row in Division I or will Bedford, Londonderry or someone else finally knock the Blue Hawks from their perch? In Division II, how will defending champion Milford adjust to life without Gatorade Player of the Year Morgan Andrews?
Players to watch: Even coaches outside Division IV were talking about Derryfield School of Manchester freshman Gabi Brummett. She's expected to light up the scoreboard and could push the Cougars to the next level.
Teams on the rise: The aforementioned Derryfield, which will not only have Gabi Brummett as a newcomer but Bow transfer Emma Garfield as well. In Division III, Bishop Brady of Concord is generating some buzz.
Exeter went undefeated (20-0) last season and has won four consecutive Division I state championships and seven out of the last eight.
The girls' soccer schedule opens on Friday with 24 games.
So can Exeter really maintain this pace?
"With Exeter, they just keep coming and coming. It's like a machine that manufactures a ton of parts and they all look the same," said Central head coach Peter Lally. "If you're going to win a state championship, someone is going to have to beat them in order to do it."
As for Lally's Central team, the Little Green made the semifinals last year and lost to Exeter. Central lost 10 players to graduation but is not a team you should count out.
Defending champion Milford is counted among the top contenders heading into the season, but the big question for the Spartans will be how they deal with the loss of the state's best player.
Morgan Andrews was Gatorade National Girls' Soccer Player of the year and New Hampshire Union Leader 2012 Red Rolfe Female Athlete of the Year.
Runner-up Souhegan will be poised to make another run as well.
"We're looking pretty good. I'm excited by the young talent we have," Comiskey said. "We have some four-year varsity starters so we're not hurting too badly."
It's fitting that the biggest division (along with DII at 21 teams) is perhaps the most wide open.
While defending champion Hopkinton is a projected favorite, the field behind the Hawks is closing fast.
Bow lost eight players, including the four defensive starters, but coach Jay Vogt is still optimistic.
After coming up just short in the title game in 2011 and 2009, Littleton finally broke through in 2012.
Horne's development willbear watching since she may be needed to carry the load.
Newmarket should be back at the top of the heap and Sunapee will make some noise as well.