League and team outlook
Front Range League
Teams and trends: Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview, Fort Collins, Fossil Ridge, Horizon, Legacy, Monarch, Mountain Range, Poudre and Rocky Mountain. In 2019, Broomfield won the league title with a 10-1 record and has won four of the last five FRL crowns since. Fairview took the title on the Eagles’ off year.
Coach: Carlos Real
The Scorecard: Following a missed 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boulder is looking to bounce back with its third straight playoff bid. The Panthers return a number of talented players, most notably junior forward Kaia Holicky, who netted a team-high seven goals as a freshman in 2019. They’ll look for guidance from senior keepers Marisa Weygandt and Alex Smith, junior midfielder Eve Bleam, sophomore forward Ava Werner and junior defender Katie McConnell. “I have great confidence in our team leadership, and their resilience and creativity will shine through,” Real said. “I am confident they will turn all those (COVID restriction) negatives into positive opportunities, learning lessons, and growing on and off the field.” Boulder is earning votes in CHSAA’s Class 5A preseason poll.
Coach: Jim Davidson
The Scorecard: The Eagles ended their 2019 campaign in shocking fashion after earning the No. 1 overall seed in 5A, then dropping out in the second round. Davidson had hoped that pain would fuel the girls’ fire in the 2020 season that never came to pass. Now, he’ll look to junior forward Maddie Brady, sophomore middy Bailey Giddings, junior middy Morgan Scheller, junior defender Taryn Rea, sophomore defender Nicole Choren and senior forward Bella Arreola to lead the Eagles back to the light. While Broomfield lost its most prolific scorers in 2019, Brady returns after scoring five goals that season. “We are thrilled to be back after a season in which 12 seniors lost an opportunity to play and enjoy their teammates. We have a very competitive group back and will strive for results, but it will remain a priority this spring that relationships trump all,” Davidson said. The Eagles enter the season ranked No. 2 in 5A.
Coach: Steve Griggs
The Scorecard: After at least a decade of playoff appearances, the Knights will look to their seniors, middy Blythe Sales, defender Jordan Okada, defender Imani Fernandez-Gorbea and forward Romeni Gurmendi to lead them back to the postseason. Sales and Gurmendi return the most firepower as they netted eight and six goals, respectively, two seasons ago. “After graduating 10 players last season, we will be looking to our current seniors to help lead a young and talented group through the always competitive FRL,” Griggs said. The Knights boast a No. 8 preseason ranking in Class 5A.
Coach: Heather Solar
The Scorecard: The Lightning return from 2019 after having three consecutive playoff appearances. They bring back aces in senior middy Jackie Maness, senior forward Danielle Gonzales, senior defender Jade Slayton, senior forward Ally Bunch, junior forward Paige Armstrong, sophomore forward Kendall Rippley and sophomore midfielder Kylie Hoffman. Gonzales leads that group with six sophomore-season goals. “I am super excited to watch this team play. They have really good chemistry and are just excited to play this season. There is tremendous talent on this team that is eager to play and work hard for each other,” Solar said. “With the Developmental Academy no longer in existence, we have two players that have never played high school soccer who will be big time players for us: (sophomore keeper) Shay Kercher-Pratt and (junior midfielder) Julianna Hayward.” Legacy earned votes in the preseason poll that unofficially ranked them at No. 14 in 5A.
Coach: Troy Tewalt
The Scorecard: Monarch ended its 2019 season with a first-round loss in the 5A state playoffs and a sixth-place finish in league (6-4-1). The Coyotes return a prolific scorer in senior Addie Lowrie, who tied for a team-high seven goals two years ago. Senior midfielder Brae Cole and junior center back Alisha Herremans also come back to add valuable leadership for Monarch. “We have a mix of veteran players and young players. We are very excited with our opportunity to work with these players and to have life as back to normal as it can get. The high school soccer season is a unique experience to play in front of your classmates, teachers, and soccer community,” Tewalt said. “The girls have had a lot of playing time with their clubs. … They get a lot of really high quality coaching with their clubs during the offseason and with our staff at Monarch during the high school season.”
Northern Colorado Athletic Conference
Teams and trends: Competing for 5A playoffs spots will be Skyline and Silver Creek. Spots in 4A will be contended for by Centaurus, Erie, Greeley Central, Greeley West, Holy Family, Longmont, Loveland, Mead and Windsor. Silver Creek, then a 4A team, easily won the league title in 2019 with a perfect 7-0 league record. The league has shifted around a lot since then, as it lost Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge and Thompson Valley. It also gained Skyline, Erie, Greeley West, Holy Family, Loveland, Mead and Windsor.
Coach: Mario Bezzina
The Scorecard: Centaurus finished the 2019 season with a 6-8-1 record and missed out on a bid to the 4A state playoffs. The Warriors return top talent in junior keeper Page Sanchez, senior defender Mikayla Kyle and junior defender Zoe Keenan. As a freshman two seasons ago, Sanchez made 66 saves while allowing just 21 goals. Bezzina hopes his 10 returning varsity players will help guide the new faces to success this year. “Our main focus is on building a solid team chemistry that will allow us to have a fun and competitive season,” Bezzina said. “The girls are all very committed to perform to the best of their abilities, both individually and as a team. Having switched to the new Northern league from this season, we are very excited to be back on the field representing our school with pride, against some familiar opponents and several new challengers.”
Coach: Jeff Vigil
The Scorecard: Erie earned a No. 17 seed in 2019’s state playoffs and bowed out in the second round. The Tigers finished fourth in the now-defunct 5A/4A Tri-Valley League, from which many teams joined the newly-revamped NCAC. The Tigers are fielding a young team this year with eight freshmen and six sophomores — none of which have seen high school varsity competition — but Vigil believes that leaders like Maddy Hays, Madison Tallman, and Katie Leach will help guide them to success. Tallman led all 2019 returners with seven goals. “Every team is in the same position, and there will be a lot of unknowns going in as games start right away,” Vigil said. “I’m just so happy that the girls get to play again! We have a lot of young players who will gain valuable experience, and really good leadership from the upperclassmen we do have to help them along the way.” Erie won a few votes in the preseason poll for Class 4A.
Holy Family Tigers
Coach: Michelle Griego Giron
The Scorecard: The Tigers finished their 2019 slate with a third-place finish in the Tri-Valley League and a 13 seed for the 4A state playoffs, where they bowed out in the second round to Wheat Ridge. The Tigers welcome back the talents of senior midfielder Lauren Clingman, senior defender Kacy Clements, junior midfielder Taylor Fox, senior midfielder Jaelen Giron, junior defender Ava Kusak, senior forward Emily Kuzik and senior defender Sarah Uhler. “I think you always enter the season a little apprehensive,” Griego Giron said. “No matter who you have coming back, you are always tasked to add new players and build chemistry. … This year, we feel very blessed that we get to play and we are going to enjoy and appreciate every minute of it.” The Tigers sit unofficially at No. 14 in the preseason poll.
Coach: Patty Wilson
The Scorecard: Longmont ended its 2019 season with just one win and returns just one starter since freshman year, junior defender Eva Holwick. Also returning are senior middy Sydney Fuller, senior defender/middy Sierra Andresen, junior middy/forward Ashtyn Waddle, junior middy/forward Evelin Moran, sophomore defender Greta Wedel and sophomore defender Emma Stasko, who may also play keeper. “The work ethic exhibited by these young ladies in our first practice was quite impressive,” Wilson said. “Not to mention they were all very receptive to critique and remarkably coachable. This positive attitude is all any coach can ask for and so the staff at Longmont High is stoked for the upcoming season!”
Coach: Shane Adler
The Scorecard: Mead earned a No. 12 seed in 2019’s 4A playoffs but ultimately didn’t make it past the first round. The Mavericks return a number of players but will mostly rely on the talents of junior forward Haley Williams, senior center middy Cora Thorndike, junior center middy Brooke Davis, senior middy Allie Seery, senior defender Bella Pfarr and senior defender Jordan Westenbroek. Williams struck fear in the hearts of her 2019 opponents as she led her team with 22 goals. The Mavericks finished second (8-1) in the 5A/4A Tri-Valley League behind Windsor (9-0). “We are very excited to get back on the pitch together as a team after having our season cut short last year,” Adler said. “We return a solid group of players and look forward to being together as a team and representing our school and community.” Mead earned votes in the preseason poll.
Coach: Luis Chavez
The Scorecard: The Falcons finished sixth in 2019’s 5A/4A Tri-Valley league with a 4-11 overall record. Although those marks ultimately weren’t enough to earn them a bid to the 4A state playoffs, they did enjoy some good production from a few ladies who may return for the 2021 season. Skyline boasts three seniors who, as sophomores, scored three goals apiece: Jaicey Stanich, Casey Erickson and Hannah Levin. Junior keeper Maya Nagell should offer some much-needed assistance in the goal, as she nabbed 28 saves as a freshman across 13 appearances.
Silver Creek Raptors
Coach: Rob Johnson
The Scorecard: The Raptors made a lot of noise in the 2019 state playoffs after making it all the way to the final four and narrowly falling to eventual champion Cheyenne Mountain, 1-0. Silver Creek easily claimed the Northern League title as it remained undefeated in league play. This year, they’ll be returning a host of talent: senior defender Annika Kassenbrock, senior striker Jillian Acosta, junior goalkeeper Kara Nelson, junior center defender Monet Becvar and sophomore central midfielders Natalia Toledo and Jada Lindquist. While the Raptors graduated much of their offensive firepower, they do return a high scorer in Acosta, who netted seven goals as a sophomore on a very goal-happy squad.
Longs Peak League
Teams and trends: Fort Morgan, Frederick, Mountain View, Niwot, Northridge, Riverdale Ridge, Roosevelt and Thompson Valley will be looking to make 4A postseason. Berthoud and Severance qualify for 3A. Frederick, Roosevelt, Fort Morgan and Berthoud all made the move to a new league from the former 5A/4A Tri-Valley League. Frederick didn’t fare nearly as well in league, finishing 2-7 during the 2019 season. Niwot made the move over from the 4A Northern League.
Coach: J Shannon Doehring
The Scorecard: The Warriors finished the 2019 season with a 6-9-0 record and return just eight players this year. They’ll rely on the talents of senior middy/forward Asia Paluda, junior defender Tia Mocelin, senior middy/defender Macenzie Stevens and junior midfielder Jullye Melendez to guide them this season. Of the key returners, Paluda led the way with two goals. “We are overly excited to get the girls back,” Doehring said. “With the way last year ended for them, we couldn’t wait to get started. Most of our girls do play club soccer and we have done as much as was permitted throughout the year. Just the chance for them to return and represent their school, I think they are excited.” The Warriors earned four votes in the Class 4A poll.
Coach: Jenna Machado
The Scorecard: Niwot ended its 2019 campaign with a 5-9-1 record, which was good for fourth in the 4A Northern League. The Cougars return a number of key athletes: senior attackers Maddie Borncamp and Kiera Flanagan, senior defender Nora Hayden, senior middy/defender Kayla Osegueda, junior keeper Carly Toothaker, junior defender Avery Verbeck and sophomore middy Tiffany Yie. Flanagan, Niwot’s sharpshooter, scored a team-high 12 goals as a sophomore and Toothaker made 22 saves in the goal box. “Our main goal for this season is to make playoffs,” Machado said. “We have a young team — with over half the team as sophomores and freshmen — and we expect to grow throughout the season. I am extremely excited and grateful to have another season to work with these talented, intelligent and committed players.” Niwot just narrowly missed a top-12 ranking, sitting at 13th.
Teams and trends: Bishop Machebeuf, Colorado Academy, Faith Christian, Jefferson Academy, Kent Denver, Lutheran, Manual, Peak to Peak, Prospect Ridge Academy, SkyView Academy, Stargate and St. Mary’s Academy. Jefferson Academy, Kent Denver and Colorado Academy all tied for first place in the Metro League in 2019, based purely on league records. This incredibly talented league sent 10 teams to the 2019 state playoffs and won both the state title (Colorado Academy) and state runner-up (Jefferson Academy).
Jefferson Academy Jaguars
Coaches: Denise Sutton and Hannah Wilson
The Scorecard: The Jaguars made quite the splash in the 2019 Class 3A state playoffs by forging their path all the way to the state title game, where they ultimately lost 3-0 to league rival Colorado Academy. Jefferson Academy finished an impressive campaign with a 17-2-1 record. The team graduated 12 players over the last two years but return key talent in senior midfielder Maggie Hirsch and junior defender Morgan Potts. Junior defender Sydney Spitz led all those coming back with six goals as Hirsch and Taylor Franco added five more apiece. “Each game is going to be a battle,” Wilson said. “Since we have limited games this season, we will only play a league schedule, which means we will face some of the top teams in the state. The last four 3A champions have come out of the Metro League.” The Jaguars enter the 2021 season ranked third in the CHSAA poll.
Peak to Peak Pumas
Coach: Mark Schieffer
The Scorecard: Peak to Peak may have finished sixth in league two years ago, but that mark hardly proves the team’s talent on the pitch. The Pumas (5-5 Metro League, 12-6 overall) made a name for themselves in the state playoffs as they forged a path to the quarterfinals, where they ultimately lost to Kent Denver, 2-0. Their top returners include senior keeper Karinne Walther, sophomore middy Piper Chen, junior middy Hadley Olsen, junior forward Lauren Hudson, senior defender Sophie Graham and sophomore defender Natalie Farhar. Hudson and Olsen led that crew with seven and six goals in 2019, respectively. “The Metro League has the best set of teams in Colorado at the 3A classification,” Schieffer said. “At Peak to Peak, our goal this year is to compete for the top three to four places in the league and try to make it into the playoffs. With only three at-large bids this season, it’s a big challenge.” CHSAA ranks the Pumas at No. 4 heading into the season.
Prospect Ridge Academy Miners
Coach: Rod Muir
The Scorecard: The Miners finished near the middle of the pack of the stellar Metro League with a 4-6 league record but boasted a 12-7 overall mark. Those numbers earned them a No. 13 seed to the 3A state playoffs, where they tore through the competition until finally meeting their match with eventual-champion Colorado Academy in the final four. In 2021, Prospect Ridge will look for guidance from 10 varsity players, namely junior forward Ainsley Macdonald, senior defender Colleen Carrasco, senior midfielder Reilly Bayliss and junior midfielder Bella Rueda. Macdonald led the entire team with 10 goals in 2019. “I am very excited to get out and play again at the high school level,” Muir said. “These girls work so hard to play for their school, and last year was tough on them. With a short season and so many outside factors that can play a role in the season, I will be happy to play and compete every day.” The Miners earned a No. 12 recognition in the 3A poll.
Mile High West League
Teams and trends: Clear Creek, Campion Academy, Dawson, Loveland Classical, Nederland, Twin Peaks and Union Colony. Dawson won the 2019 2A Region 5 League with a perfect 4-0 record. The now-defunct league featured Clear Creek, Dawson, Denver Christian, Front Range Christian and Nederland. Some teams formerly didn’t belong to a league and others didn’t exist two years ago as CHSAA has created the brand-new Mile High West League to accommodate every new addition.
Coach: David Criswell
The Scorecard: Criswell enters his final season at Dawson with an incredibly tough squad after his 2019 Mustangs finished runner-up in the Class 2A state playoffs. They fell to former league rival Denver Christian in a shootout in the title game. Dawson returns 10 ladies from that dangerous team, most notably senior forward Degen Miller, senior midfielder Maddy Timms, senior defender Elise Freedman and junior midfielder Helen Leon. Freedman and Timms combined for 13 goals two seasons back as Miller dominated with 31. “We’ve been running pickup games since late last summer, masks and all, so the team has had a good amount of contact with each other,” Criswell said. “That being said, the team’s energy has been great over the first couple of days of our official CHSAA season because we’re excited to be together as a full team again.” Dawson earned the top preseason ranking in CHSAA’s poll.
Coach: Mark Mabbett
The Scorecard: Nederland girls soccer finished the 2019 season without earning a win but will look for more cohesive play this season. The Panthers scored just five goals, two of which were netted by now-senior Dante Lanthier. They graduated seven of their 12 players from two years ago, meaning the Panthers will be fielding a fairly new team this season.
Twin Peaks Timberwolves
Coach: Stephen Wanninger
The Scorecard: The Timberwolves boast a brand-new soccer squad, which was brought into existence in 2020, but never got the chance to compete. In its de facto inaugural season, Twin Peaks will rely most on senior defender Grace Ary, sophomore middy Sarah Martinez and junior middy/defender Elyse Hughes to lead the way. The Timberwolves also boast a strong freshman class that Wanninger believes will be a huge asset for years to come. “ The coaches and the athletes are excited to be playing at this level. I am very thankful for my assistant coaches, Scott and Hernán, for helping me out this season,” he said. “We have a team of hard-working athletes, most of whom stayed fit in the winter months. I am confident that we will have a good season. As far as coaching those that need more coaching, that is a challenge that myself and the coaching staff are ready and excited to handle.”
Bringing it home: recent state champions
2020 — No championships awarded (COVID-19 pandemic cancellation)
2019 — Grandview (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Colorado Academy (3A), Denver Christian (2A)
2018 — Grandview (5A), Windsor (4A), Jefferson Academy (3A), Dawson School (2A)
2017 — Mountain Vista (5A), D’Evelyn (4A), The Academy (3A), Denver Christian (2A)
2016 — Grandview (5A), Lewis-Palmer (4A), Kent Denver (3A), Vail Mountain (2A)
2015 — Grandview (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Colorado Academy (3A), Vail Mountain (2A)
Point me to the postseason
RPI will determine seedings for all four state postseason brackets from 2A up through 5A (league champions will get favorable seeding), and June 12 is the final day of regular season competition. Just 16 teams qualify for the each of the 2A through 5A brackets (Championship date of June 26 for all four classifications).