1. Newsome - The Wolves were region finalists last season and return a deep squad, including leading scorers Karina Gutsche, Jackie Simpson and Caroline Evers. The Wolves look to make some slight changes in defensive positioning to strengthen one of the area's top sides. 2. Plant - The Panthers will need to answer questions quickly as Molly Ganther will have to step up to run the midfield for Plant this season. Kaitlyn Steckel and Caroline Bado will have to lead the scoring and the Panthers lost a lot on defense with Amy Werdine, Megan Bryant, keeper Lauryn Bodden and MF Ellen Moore graduating, so there are some question marks. Plant opens the season with a huge test in 5A state finalist Seminole on Tuesday in the tournament at Wharton.
3. Steinbrenner - Steinbrenner coasted through 4A competition last season and returns a strong attacking front in junior Cici Gonzalez and sophomore Alexis Bredeau and a much improved defense. The Warriors will be tested quickly this season opening with Newsome in the Lady Wildcat Invitational tonight at Wharton. 4. Berkeley Prep - Last season's 3A state runner-up lost a lot of seniors, but returns the county's (and perhaps on of the nation's) top keepers in Bryanne Heaberline and an anywhere-on-the-field playmaker Taylor Richardson. 5. East Bay - The Indians lost a lot - their leading scorer (Brittany Cox), second-leading scorer (Delaney Poli) and starting keeper (Andrea Owens), but East Bay returns a solid defense led by senior Natalie Preston and junior Isabel Vazquez, giving the team a core while it figures the rest out.