Why wait for the official coronation? Mountain Pointe girls soccer coach Mark Wilson has already proclaimed the Pride to be “the queens of the conference.” It may be a bold decree before the season has even started, but Wilson predicted that the Pride would win the state title in his first season three years ago and he was right. And there is no predecessor to the crown. The new East Valley Region is a dominion cobbled together from the Central, Pima, Southern and former East Valley regions. “We’re in a new (region) that should give us more power points this year,” Wil- son added. The Pride are also returning a majority of the team that was 13-10-1 overall and made it to the second round of the state 5A-I playoffs last season before losing to eventual champion, Phoenix Xavier.

This season’s schedule includes Tempe Marcos de Niza, a ninth seed in the 5A-II playoffs last season, and Mesa Desert Ridge, a dark horse that reached the 5A-II semifinals before losing to state champion Scottsdale Horizon. “Marcos and Desert Ridge are going to be our toughest games,” Wilson said. “I don’t know what everyone else has and we don’t care.” Senior Mary Marcoux, who also runs sprints in track, is expected to start in goal for the Pride. Injured most of last season when she was a backup to Tessa Bowie, Marcoux and Wilson worked together in club soccer six years ago. “We have a history together,” Wilson said. “Mary’s mobile and moves very quickly. Her track experience helps because those first couple of steps are important and she’s tall, so she should be able to pull a lot of those crosses that come in out of the air.” The Pride are also getting veteran players like forward/midfielder Cayla Smith, who scored 13 goals and had nine assists for the Pride last season. Among the other returnees are midfielder Gina Buschatzke, who had 11 assists, juniors defender Karen Kierstead and Morgan Walker, sophomore Alyson Coker, junior Jazmyn Ledford and senior midfielder Sara Shaffer. Mountain Pointe has also entered the annual Diablo tournament in early December at the Tempe Sports Complex and the Mesa Dobson tournament over Christmas break. “We were going to go out of town for a tournament,” Wilson said, “but with the conference changing we need to see Corona del Sol, Desert Vista and those other teams we’re not going to see during the year.” The Pride will get an opportunity to see Desert Vista early. The rivals open the regular season on Tuesday, Dec. 1 in Karl Kiefer Stadium.

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