The two big-school girl soccer programs in the area had a nice little run come to an end last season.

Mountain Pointe lost in the Class 5A Division I quarterfinal, and Desert Vista dropped out in the semifinals.

It was the first time since 2003 that at least one of these elite programs didn't qualify for the championship game.

Back to the drawing board? Not exactly.

These programs are among the best in the state every year, although Phoenix Xavier was won the last two titles, and this season shouldn't be different.

The Thunder, which won a state title in 2005 and were runners-up in 2009, 2007 and 2004, will be led by McKenzie Semerad, who coach Paul Manoogian called a player-of-the-year candidate.

The senior center midfielder scored six goals and had four assists last season and is committed to East Carolina.

She will be joined at center midfield by senior Julia Waterhouse, who played sweeper the last two seasons.

"Between those two we should be able to hold up well up front," Manoogian said. "Last year we used three forwards because we had a good back line. We could afford to not have another player back there, but this year we only need two because they are so good."

The other player the Thunder, which lost about six prominent seniors from last season's 17-win team, will rely on will be KK Tupponce, who is moving from fullback to forward, a position she has played for her club team.

"Every year it is like moving the chess pieces around to find the right fit," Manoogian said. "We have a good senior class that knows what it takes to win. We have been there before, and we have the ability to get back."

Mountain Pointe coach Mark Wilson has the first senior class that has been under his direction since they were freshmen.

"They know how I play and what I expect and vice versa," he said. "I know what they can to do and what to expect from them. It will give us a chance to really play our game, and we should be able to play at a high level from the start."

The Pride, which won the state title in 2008, shared it in 1997 and were runners-up in 2006, return a majority of last year's 16-win team.

"We lost only two really important seniors," Wilson said. "We should be a more complete team, pretty even across the board."

Wilson said the team will be strong on defense and that the group knows how to build an offensive push from the back up.

Some of the top players will be junior Kylee Kipper, freshman midfielder Ashley Mutchek, junior forward Chase Winstead, senior forward Ellie St. Aubin and junior forward Paige Johnson.

"I truly believe in running so we don't make tired mistakes," Wilson said. "Teams are going to have to work hard to beat us. We are going to apply high pressure the whole game, constantly force the tempo."

Horizon Honors, coached by Andrew Patrick, plays in the Class 2A Metro Region and hopes to build off last season's 4-6 season.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.