BOYS SOCCER

JIM THORPE

Head coach Anthony Dixon (First season)

Assistant coaches none

Last year's record 2-15 overall

League Schuylkill League

Classification AA

Key losses Zach Ligenza, Dillon Smith, Kyle Bradley, John Mazella, Matt McCauley

Key returnees Mitch Franko (Sr/Mid), Corey Ligenza (So/For), Benny Mazella (So/Mid), Kyle Lawrence (So/For), Dalton Becker (So/Def), Shane Breicheotto (So/Def), Justin Kaminski (So/GK);

Others to watch Michael Principe (So/Mid), Steven Principe (Jr/Mid), Matt Rich (So/For), William Sterling (So/FB), Anthony Pavia (Fr/Mid), Caleb Heller (Fr/For), Richard Vuell (Jr/For);

Strengths Dixon is guiding what he calls, "a really good bunch of athletes that put everything into every practice session." In the early-going, the Olympians are improving their skills every week and continue to develop as a squad.

Weaknesses if there is one, JT is young and not a very physical team, but look for that aspect to improve as the season progresses.

Quoteable "I think we're going to surprise some people and they're going to improve. Ultimately, I'd like for them to enjoy the game. Hopefully, they take in the expererience and get on the level where they are competing with the other teams," Head Coach Anthony Dixon

LEHIGHTON

Head coach David Yob (First season)

Assistant coaches Nik Millen, Jon Hakim

Last year's record 1-17 overall (0-12 MVC)

League Mountain Valley Conference

Classification AA

Key losses Dan Dagorn, Shane Nothstein, Jon Beahler

Key returnees Jake Plocinik (Sr., DEF), Jason Addy (Sr., MID), Ryan Butts (Sr., DEF), Nick Kern (Sr., DEF), Luke Millen (Sr., F), Dustin Pettit (Sr., MID), Shane Fordyce (Jr., GK), DJ Rossino (Jr., MID), Josh Eckert (Jr., MID), Geoff Ebbert (So., DEF/GK)

Others to watch At this time, the first-year mentor says it is too early right now to project who among the newcomers will make significant contributions to the team. He welcomes in a total of eight freshmen, two sophomores and a junior.

Strengths The Indians' first year mentor believes the program's desire to improve upon last year's record will guide them in the right direction. Assisting in that matter will be the Indians' decent team speed and the dependibility of the Indians' team chemistry, which Yob stated has been good so far in the pre-season.

Weaknesses Yob is concerned with the varsity inexperience that lies true with half the team playing at this level this year. Plus, Yob is pushing the fact that Indians need to improve team fitness as well as their communication skills on the practice as well as competitive field.

Quoteable "So far, things have been going well for us. The guys have been working hard and have been giving me a good effort on a daily basis. In the one scrimmage we had, we played well as a team. We moved the ball well and had several good scoring chances. They worked hard during the scrimmage and everyone gave me their best effort. As long as we continue to put forth the effort, we should be competitive. How that will translate into wins and losses remains to be seen. I know we can be competitive, however, the guys need to learn that they can be successful. I believe our success during the scrimmage has pointed us in the right direction. Now, we just have to continue to build on that daily," Head coach David Yob.

PALMERTON

Head coach Steve Hicks (Second season)

Assistant coaches Ryan Sharkazy, Rocco Seiler, Lynda Hicks

Last year's record 4-14 overall

League Colonial

Classification AA

Key losses Ryan Kleintop, Brian Mendes, Zach Huber, Jesse Reis

Key returnees Kevin Seemiller (Sr/Def), David Kenion (Sr/Mid), Derek Furry (Sr/Mid), Adam Berger (Sr/For), Nathan Binder (Sr/For), Garrett Scott (Sr/M id), Trevor Sherman (Jr/Def) and Todd Reichenbach (Jr/Def);

Others to watch Brett Snyder (Jr/GK), Dylan Furry (So/Mid), Matt Leaver (So/Def), Spencer Shigo (So/For);

Strengths According to Hicks, the strength of their field lies on the defensive side of the ball and in what they've seen so far, that should be solid enough part of their team to rely on. With a four-way scrimmage coming up with Coughlin and Northwestern at Parkland, those strengths will be tested early on.

Weaknesses The weaknesses are apparent with inexperience on the field in key positions. With graduation, the right section of their midfield is gone, so with some personnel switches, Hicks sees things working out as the season goes along.

Quoteable "The coaches are happy with the energy we've seen so far in practice. They are showing a lot of enhusiasm and the we are taking the time to try and instill in them the winning attitude," Head Coach Steve Hicks.

PLEASANT VALLEY

Head coach Chris Pachuta (Second season)

Assistant coaches Derek Strohl, Alex Wunder, Matt Gould, Mike Dragota

Last year's record 11-8-1 overall

League MVC

Classification AAA

Key losses Ryan Habick, Charlie DuBois, Emiliano Furtado, Mike Cimino

Key returnees Malik Krcic (Sr/Def), Adam Werkheiser (Sr/Def), Alex Manfour (Sr/For), Ricky Forte (Sr/For), Jeremy Curatola (Sr/Mid), Travis Zilmer (Sr/Mid), Jack Wathen (So/Def);

Others to watch AJ Werkheiser (Sr/GK), Chris Skutnik (So/Def)

Strengths With the senior leadership on the Bears' roster, Pachuta says, "We basically have nine senior starters, in which most of them have played last year, as well. From back to front, and right to left, the soccer intelligence is high because many of the players are involved with high level club play."

Weaknesses PV has them with fitness and the inability to finish being the two most important, according to Pachuta.

Quoteable "We definitely should be able to compete for a league title with Stroudsburg and Pocono Mountain East. The senior class is the first class to never win an MVC title, so we're all pushing for them to get a championship," Head Coach Chris Pachuta.

NORTHERN LEHIGH

Head coach John Sitaras (Fifth season)

Assistant coaches None

Last year's record 6-11 overall (3-10 CL)

League Colonial League

Classification AA

Key losses Cory Snyder, Martin Everhart, Steve Irwin

Key returnees Channing Shiffert (Jr.), Thatcher George (Jr.), Jimmy Bilger (Jr.)

Others to watch Tyler Hopes (So.), Aaron Harding (So.), Nathaniel Czarnecki (Fr.)

Strengths The Bulldogs welcomes back an experienced core of individuals, including TIMES NEWS Player of the Year Channing Shiffert, Thatcher George and Jimmy Bilger, who were all a key component of a team that set a Northern Lehigh school record for wins in a season. Sitaris stated the Bulldogs will rely on the offensive end this season to keep them in every game played this season.

Weaknesses Sitaris is concerned about the depth on his roster as well as the inexperienced individuals that comes forth with the addition of several newcomers.

Quoteable "Our goal is definite districts. We want to take that first step forward and take our program to be at a more competitive level. I expect to play well and make every game close so we have a chance to win. It is going to be a tall order but we're willing to work hard and do whatever it takes as a team," Head coach John Sitaris.

NORTHWESTERN

Head coach Fernando Carrizo (Third season)

Assistant coaches Gene Miller

Last year's record 15-6 overall

League Colonial League, North Division

Classification Class AA

Key losses David Haaf, Tyler Harshery, Luke Stuby, Nick Millward, Nate Kester

Key returnees Jimmy Hoover (Sr., F), Austin Marich (Sr., D), Curtis Cappuccino (Sr., M)

Others to watch Matthew Koenig (Sr., D), Trevor Lear (Sr., M), Talon Williams (Jr., GK), Eric Laub (Sr., GK/F), Andrew Willis (Jr., D), Jeremy Ettl (Jr., M), Chad Horn (Jr., M), Isaiah Danner (So., F)

Strengths Northwestern has returning and players and newcomers to fill each of the holes left by graduation. Hoover is a solid player up top. Marich is a four-year starter in the backfield and Cappuccino was and All Colonial League First Team selection last year. Williams is a solid keeper and a good athlete.

Weaknesses The Tigers lost their leading scorer (Haaf), a three-year starting goal keeper (Kester) and a chunk of their backfield in Stuby, Harshey and Millward.

Quoteable "We want to stay competitive and make sure we win some games and do well for our school," Northwestern head coach Fernando Corrizo

TAMAQUA

Head coach Greg Stewart (Eighth season)

Assistant coaches Keith James, Claude Ruba, Bobby Whitley

Last year's record 7-7-1 SL, 7-10-1

League Schuylkill League, Division I

Classification AA

Key losses Davide DeFiore, Billy Breiner, Geoff Sincavage, Nate Billet

Key returnees Zack Lakitsky (Sr/GK), Eric Blachert (Sr/Mid), Cody Estremera (Sr/Mid), Jake Fegley (Jr/Mid), Lance Williams (Jr/Mid), Justin Delp (So/For), Eric Hertzog (So/Def);

Others to watch Cesare Picone (Fr/For), Caleb Leibenguth (Sr/For), Kyle Sabol (Jr/Def), Zach Ruba (So/Def);

Strengths There are about fifteen players on the varsity Tamaqua squad that will see a lot of time, according to Stewart. The Blue Raiders also have four or so guys that have the ability to play any position on the field. The team has been playing together for a while already with many pre-season training sessions at the Iron Lakes complex.

Weaknesses According to Stewart, "There is a lot of balance between defense and offense; we just need to get more playing time together, which will come as the season progresses."

Quoteable "I think if we learn to play together a a team, we should be league contenders for a title this year," Head Coach Greg Stewart

GIRLS SOCCER

JIM THORPE

Head Coach Rich Emmert (Third season)

Assistant Coaches Wendy Smelas

Last year's record 2-14 overall

League Schuylkill League

Classification AAA

Key losses Ja Page, Lauren DeLeon

Key returnees Brittney McAteer (Sr., MID), Dana Duncan (Sr., MID), Chelsea Smelas (Jr, F), Kristin Lawrence (Jr, F), Jen Rusbarsky (Jr., MID), Caitlin Liscinski (Jr., F), Erica Smith (Jr., DEF/MID), Monica Eckley (Jr., DEF), Jeanna McElmoyle (Jr., MID/DEF), Sam Hughes (Jr., DEF), Alyssa Dachowicz (So., MID/F)

Others to watch Amber Castillo (Fr., F/DEF), Cat Coldly (Fr., F/GK), Celeste Meriano (Jr., DEF/GK), Mylena Gilkes (Sr., MID/F)

Strengths This will be the third year of varsity play for the majority of the returning starters. In addition to the returning experience, the Olympians are adding a true work ethic as Emmert says his players are very hard workers who are dedicated to the teams success. With both to their benefit, the Olympians have their eyes set on districts.

Weaknesses With all of the new talent coming into the program, Emmert has the challenge of having his freshmen players fit in as a whole unit with the rest of the experienced players. With the loss of seasoned goalkeeper in Ja Page, the Olympians objective for the up-coming season is to train a new goalie.

Quoteable "I feel we will have a very successful season. We are still a very young team the team is dedicated and striving to be a successful. This is our first year since the teams inception three years ago to field a junior varsity team. So, we are excited to see what they can do too," Head coach Rich Emmert.

TAMAQUA

Head Coach Clem McCarroll (Seventh season)

Assistant Coaches Eric Nunamacher, Ken Mateyak, Courtney McCarroll, Rick Morgans, Donna Kohut

Last year's record 19-2 overall (14-1 SL Div I)

League Schuylkill League Division I

Classification AA

Key losses Katie Hummel (First Team All-State), Jackie Stewart, Eden Helfrich, Brooke Gursky, Brittany Hill, Shelby Hankins, Sam Digilio, Schuyler Schmidt

Key returnees Ali Updike (Sr., F), Lauren Mateyak (Sr., F), Kayla Hope (Jr., MID), Kailee Rottet (So., MID), Chey Bates (Jr., GK), Carl O'Malley (Jr., MID)

Others to watch Alex Wagner (So., MID), Cady O'Malley (Jr., F), Maria Streisel (So., DEF), Caitlen Trainer (Jr., DEF), Natalie Davison (Sr., DEF)

Strengths The Raiders are blessed to have the team's top-four scorers Ali Updike (22 goals, a school record of 63 career goals), Kailee Rottet (14 goals), Kayla Hope (13 goals) and Lauren Mateyak (10 goals) back from last year's team. They also have the key component on the defensive side back in tact. Junior Chey Bates is back in front of the Raiders' net for a second year. The Raiders are looking to Bates to have another stellar season after recording 14 shutouts a year ago, which tied a school record.

Weaknesses McCarroll is concerned about his younger girls stepping up and adjusting to the varsity level after attaining an undefeated season as JV players. That's including those individuals

Quoteable "With the loss of so many graduates (nine total), we're going to take it one day at a time. We're focusing on the defensive attack right now. Once all things click, we will be a much better team. Everybody will probably expect us to win alot, but we got to focus on one game at a time. We have to make sure our younger players don't get too overwhelmed with the level of play in the early going," Head coach Clem McCarroll.