Part two of our nation-wide high school fall soccer preview takes us through an incredible boys win streak in Kentucky, a girls dynasty in Maryland and the longest tenured high school coach in the country in Massachusetts.
Kansas (boys only)
Washburn Rural (Topeka) (18-2-1): It doesn't get any bigger than 6A in Kansas high schools, and it didn't get any bigger in 6A in 2012 than Washburn Rural. The Junior Blues brushed aside Wichita Northwest to win a 2-0 decision and their second state title in four years. A breakout star in that game was Tyler Burton, who completely shut down stud scorer Andres Lleras and returns for his junior year. Junior keeper Walter Farrar had 15 shutouts and didn't allow a goal in the postseason, and he's back for his senior season. The Junior Blues also welcome back a staggering 22 goals from the front line.
St. Xavier (Louisville) (27-0-2): Consistency is a way of life for St. Xavier, which was 53-0-2 in its last 55 headed into the 2013 season, a streak that was ended unceremoniously late last month. Coach Andy Schulten has averaged a KHSSA title every other year in his 16 years at the reins, which includes the last two seasons. When the Tigers edged Paul Dunbar 1-0 in the state tournament final, it was their 11th shutout in a row, a run in which they outscored opponents 41-0. The trouble this year won't be finding talent, but it'll be seasoning the inexperience on the roster. Striker Joe Workman, who had 18 goals last year, is one of the only starters back.
Tates Creek (Lexington) (23-1-4): In his five years in charge at Tates Creek, Bo Lankster has an incredible return of 73 wins in 102 games. That record wraps around a state title last year that ended a magical year in Lexington. Few state title defenders have the luxury of this much talent returning. Despite the loss of heavy goal-scorers Destinie Graves and Elaine Simpson, Tates Creek is loaded for another run at a title with contributors like Mazie Fry, Alex Tussey and Katie Workman. Tates Creek knocked off defending champ Notre Dame last year, which could signal a power shift toward Lexington.
Scarborough (16-0-2): When it comes to boys soccer in Maine, Scarborough has become the team of record in Class A over the past decade. The Storm have won four of the past eight state titles in that classification, and they returned to the pinnacle in 2012 for the first time since 2009. The school on the southeastern tip of Maine crushed Mr. Ararat 4-0 in the final last year, the largest margin of victory in the fixture in 14 years. Scarborough will hold the state's attention again this season as its reigning kings.
Bangor (16-2-0): This might as well be split between Bangor and Scarborough, since the two have won each of the past three Class A state titles. Bangor's 4-0 win in 2011 was sandwiched around wins by Scarborough in 2010 (3-0) and last year's dramatic 2-1 double overtime victory to cap a 16-1-1 season. It's that last state title game that will go down in state annals as one of the greatest ever played. Bangor is the class of eastern Maine this decade and is 49-3-2 over the past three seasons. The return of shut-down defensive anchor Tiffany Gray from injury will be a massive boost.
McDonogh (Owings Mills) (19-2-1): This part of the country is a notorious producer of some of the nation's best soccer talent, and this year McDonogh has an especially talented crop. The school's ability to retain high-level academy players is one of its secret weapons, and Maryland commits Connor Smith and George Campbell are both massive cogs in the arsenal. Smith has been involved with the U.S. U18 setup, and Campbell was named the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year last season as just a junior. After an MIAA A Conference title over Gilman last year, good money is on McDonogh for a repeat. But then again, that's most every year.
Good Counsel (Olney) (16-1-2): There are few better-known girls programs in the country than Good Counsel, which won its eighth WCAC title last fall in convincing fashion. The Falcons have gotten to their perch by not ducking other elite programs, as evidenced by the fact that they'll host California outfit Maria Carrillo, last year's NSCAA end-of-season national No. 1. Though the Falcons lose Midge Purce to Harvard after the stud forward scored 27 goals as a senior, including both tallies in a 2-0 win over Bishop O'Connell in the WCAC final, they're still loaded. Imani Dorsey (Duke) and Megan Hinz (Michigan) are two enormously touted prospects in a sea of them.
Needham (21-1-3): Don Brock started Needham's boys soccer program 46 years ago, and he's still driving the bus. There's probably not a high school soccer coach in the country tenured longer in one spot than Brock, and he earned his fourth state title in 2012. Needham dropped Amherst 1-0 in the D1 final on a stunning goal from Mac Steeves, probably the best player Brock has ever produced. Steeves, who is now at Providence, had 20 goals and 25 assists as a senior and won the Gatorade Player of the Year honor for Massachusetts. Needham's success in 2013 will hinge on finding replacements for that production, which is no easy task.
Belchertown (20-1-2): Last season, Orioles coach Chris Mogavero proudly proclaimed his 2012 team the best he's ever coached. The team made it to the Division 2 state title game before falling to Medfield 3-1. The Orioles, considered arguably the best girls program to emerge from western Massachusetts, scored 92 goals to just 18 allowed in 2012. While a stud senior class departs, another should step into place. Twins Breanne and Brittany Moreau and Jackie Soucia were Division 2 all-state selections last year, and Breanne was named to the All-New England team for the second consecutive season. All three are now seniors.
Michigan (boys only)
East Kentwood (22-1-4): East Kentwood won the D1 state title last year, and few teams boast a storyline more interesting than the one that accompanies Amuri, Semmy and Vincent Msafiri. The Congolese brothers immigrated to the United States four years ago after fleeing war-torn Congo and spending four years in a Malawian refugee camp. After an adjustment period, the three have helped make East Kenwood one of the most feared boys teams in the state. And don't forget about midfielder Erick Pizano, who may well turn out to be the best high school player in all of Michigan this year.
Rochester Lourdes (22-1-0): For the first time in 13 years, Lourdes hoisted the Class A state trophy in 2012. It was the Eagles' third state title, and none were more dramatic. Keeper Will Elder made stops on St. Paul's second and fifth attempts and the Eagles streaked home with a 4-3 edge in penalties to win the title. It was an enormous third title for a program that's only been in existence since 1997.
Lakeville North (17-1-2): In recent years, it's been a safe bet Lakeville North is coming back with a hefty amount of talent. North may be a relatively new power in Minnesota, as two of its three Class AA state tournament appearances have come in the past two years. But the Panthers have lathered it on thick in recent years, and they've gone 35-3-4 in the past two seasons. Unfortunately, both have dead-ended in the state semis. Senior captions Alexis Joyce, Sarah Fisco and Lauren Brownrigg opted to pass up playing with local ECNL club Minnesota Thunder for a final go at a state crown.