NHIAA Girls' Soccer Preview: All eyes on Bedford, Exeter
Bedford's Asha Steele in action against Pinkerton last fall. (BRUCE PRESTON/UNION LEADER FILE)
The Scoop/Girls' SoccerDivision I -- 2013 champion: Bedford. Contenders: Exeter, Bedford, Pinkerton, Manchester Central, Londonderry, Bishop Guertin
Division II -- 2013 champion: Souhegan. Contenders: Souhegan, Portsmouth, Pembroke, Oyster River
Division III -- 2013 champion: Bow. Contenders: Belmont, Campbell, Hopkinton, Raymond
Division IV -- 2013 champion: Sunapee. Contenders: Woodsville, Derryfield, Wilton-Lyndeborough
Players to Watch: Casey Estey (Exeter), Katie Day (Exeter), Asha Steele (Bedford), Christina Campbell (Bedford), Alyssa Zajac (BG), Grace Tauriello (OR), Lennon Dobben-Annis (Portsmouth).
One of those eight starters back for the Bulldogs is senior midfielder Asha Steele, who scored the only goal in the win over the Blue Hawks.
Entering the season with a talented squad as well as a title will bring out the best in all of the Bulldogs’ opponents.
Exeter also returns a group that will be looking to regain its throne. Leading that list are Katie Day and All-American Casey Estey, who had 38 goals in 19 games.
The Cardinals have reloaded and are hoping to make it a little further this year. They are led by Alyssa Zajac (Senior, defense), Kiley Deignan (Junior, midfield), Marie LaPlante (junior, forward), Marissa Burns (sophomore, defense), Grace Linnehan (junior, forward), Meg Kerutis (senior, defense) and Mykalia Elliott (senior, forward).
With two seniors returning from ACL injuries and a group of seven talented sophomores, Oyster River of Durham will look to rebound from a 7-8-2 season.
The Bobcats will look to challenge the likes of defending champ Souhegan and runner-up Pembroke, as well as Seacoast rivals Portsmouth and St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover.
Just down the road from Durham, the Clippers are hoping to build off last year’s success.
They have a strong core of seniors back including Lennon Dobben-Annis (forward), Lizzy Rice (defense), Ashleigh LaPorta (midfield), Charley Prevost (forward), Marika Nawrock (midfield), Claudia Waddingham (defense), Alexx Nawrocki (defense), Maggie Getman (midfield) and Julie Mcnabb (defense).
Bow is the reigning state champ in Division III and will be one of the elite teams in the league again.
After a 20-0 season last year, the Falcons reload with a strong group looking to keep the winning ways going. Included in that group are Brie Achorn, Leeanna Cmar, Janna Corsetti, Taylor Morrison, Lilly Naimie, Maddie Preston, Lauren Scarpetti, Maddie Cheney, Julia Currier, Caitlyn Keenan, Gianna Celenza and Maggie Vogt.
In Division IV, the champion is Sunapee, which beat Woodsville on penalty kicks in the title game last year. Look for both teams to be competitive once again this year along with Derryfield of Manchester and Wilton-Lyndeborough.