The top senior veterans include goalkeeper Sam Farley, sweeper Kennedy Maker and forward Dylan Lampert . Junior midfielder Matt Ouren is also back as is freshman forward Jake Makela. Makela led the team in scoring a year ago.
"We're going to see how our depth plays out once we identify the players that won't come off the field very often," Woelfel said. "When we see who we have left to substitute in, we'll have a better idea of how deep we are."
Woelfel tabs Owatonna and Rochester Mayo as the two favorites in the Big Nine. In the section he sees a four-team race featuring the Scarlets, Mankato East, St. Peter and Willmar.
West begins the season with a key sectional match against Willmar. Starting time is 5 p.m. at Dakota Meadows field.
LOYOLA GIRLS: Second-year coach B.J. Peterson welcomed about 32 student-athletes to preseason camp, including a strong core of returning players.
The Crusaders' biggest loss to graduation was probably goalkeeper Sarah Pellar, a mainstay for three straight seasons. Peterson expects last year's JV goalie, Kim Krmpotich, to take over that role.
The freshman has grown nearly six inches from last year and is playing well in practice. Peterson is expecting good things: "She has that rock star attitude, and that's going to help her."
Loyola returns three key players in center-midifielder Aunikah Bastian, sweeper Alia Coughlan and midfielder/defender Emily Gaspar. Peterson describes them as the heart of the team.
Among the other key players returning are Lissy Ninneman, Katarina Vetter and Karla Krmpotich. Eighth-grader Elizabeth Pellar and freshman Tiara Coughlan are expected to contribute as well.
Among the team goals are to play strong defense (the Crusaders allowed just 1.9 goals per game last year) and win more games than a year. "We were 4-10 last year, and I'd like to see at least six wins this year," Peterson said.